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Zoologists study animals. They examine such subjects as the animal’s behavior, origins, life processes or diseases. Zoologists are usually identified by the group of animals they specialize in. For example, ichthyologists study fish, and mammalogists study mammals. These biologists may dissect dead animals in laboratories, observe wild animals in their natural habitat or study captive animals in zoos and aquariums. Zoologists use a wide variety of tools to collect and analyze data such as population growth, migration patterns or behavior.
Binoculars or Magnifying Glass
Zoologists study animals in their natural habitats. They observe the animals from a distance and rarely interact with them. Zoologists use binoculars to watch larger animals, such as lions or gorillas. Binoculars allow researchers to keep a safe distance from dangerous animals and ensure that their human presence does not disrupt the animal’s natural environment. Entomologists are zoologists who study insects. They often need magnifying glasses to see small creatures such as ants.
Electronic equipment is used to help document field observations. Video recorders allow zoologists to make visual tapes of animal behavior on both land and water. They use audio recorders to document sounds within animal societies. For example, marine biologists use such equipment to capture whales' mating calls. This visual and audio documentation helps support a zoologist’s written notes.
Global Positioning System (GPS)
Many zoologists use a GPS to record their location in the field. This gives them the exact location of a specific animal or group of animals. They can use this data later to find these animals again or to trace their migratory patterns. GPS also allows these scientists to journey into more remote areas of the globe, such as the rain forest, without the fear of losing their way.
Zoologists who study the anatomy of animals need laboratory equipment such as scalpels, scissors, tweezers and microscopes. They use scalpels to dissect dead animals and scissors or tweezers to take cells and tissues from specimens. Microscopes allow researchers to view and analyze these cultures.
Computers are essential tools of the trade for most scientists. They allow zoologists to create and maintain databases of information for different types of animals. Zoologists enter their field notes into data sets and use statistical software programs such as SPSS or STATA to analyze this data and test hypotheses.
Zoologists must constantly perform research to keep up with developments within their specializations. They read books and periodicals to find information about the animals they study. When they go into the field, zoologists can utilize this knowledge to help them identify unusual behavior patterns.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Biological Scientists
- “Biology: Concepts and Connections"; Neil A. Campbell, et al.; 2008
- “Great Jobs for Biology Majors”; Blythe Camenson and Josephine Scanlon; 2004
Marci Sothern has written as a tutor in the academic field since 1999. She holds a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in political science from the University of Texas at Tyler. Her main areas of expertise include American history, comparative politics, international relations and political theory.