Wildlife, Sustainability and Ecosystem Sciences

The Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences offers a Master of Science in Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences with two tracks:  Research and Professional.  The purposes of these tracks differ somewhat according to the objectives, plans, and employment interests of individual students. The following provides general information concerning the two tracks. For more specific information contact the Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences.

All students are required to demonstrate to departmental graduate faculty acceptable proficiency in both oral and written English prior to preparation of a degree plan. Successful completion of remedial English courses may be required in instances of insufficient proficiency.

The MS research track involves an original research project under the direction of a graduate faculty member and the preparation of a thesis in addition to prescribed course work. Generally, successful pursuit of this degree necessitates full-time and uninterrupted graduate enrollment. The degree may be considered terminal in individual cases, but a major advantage is the preparation and background provided to pursue further graduate study at the PhD level. Also, for certain types of employment with agencies and corporations, the experience gained in research methodology and technical writing is invaluable in enhancing and broadening employment and advancement opportunities.  General requirements include 36 semester hours of advanced course work in agriculture, natural resource sciences, and supporting fields above the bachelor's degree, of which up to six semester credit hours can be thesis hours.

The MS professional track may be attractive to certain students who desire advanced course work to further qualify for certain types of public or agency employment or to enhance advancement opportunities in their present employment.  Students are held to the same academic standards as research track students, but take additional course-work in lieu of an original research project.  Experiential learning activities such as an internship or teaching practicum may be required.  General requirements include 36 semester hours of advanced course work in agriculture, natural resource sciences, and supporting fields above the bachelor's degree.

Admission Requirements

In general, students interested in pursuing an MS in a particular field (e.g., wildlife science, soil science) should hold a BS degree in that field or have taken equivalent undergraduate coursework.  Otherwise, substantial undergraduate leveling courses may be required prior to admission into an MS program.  Students must also have acceptable scores on the GRE.  Admission to the MS in Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences program is contingent upon application to and acceptance by the College of Graduate Studies, acceptance by the Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences, and agreement by a faculty member to serve as the student's adviser and chair of the student's graduate committee. 

Advisement and Committee's Role

MS Research Track

Prior to acceptance for graduate study by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and the student's declaration of intent to pursue an MS (thesis) program, the student must consult with his or her major department's graduate faculty concerning potential research projects and thesis topics.  Because of the close interaction and cooperation required between the student and the graduate faculty adviser, pursuit of the MS (thesis) degree must be arranged in advance.  If a student is unable to secure a faculty member as graduate adviser, he/she will not be allowed to begin an MS (thesis program).  Upon agreement between the student and his/her major adviser, a research topic is selected and determinations are made as to a program of study, background courses, and the composition and appointment of the advisory committee. During the first semester of enrollment, a formal degree plan and thesis proposal are submitted to the advisory committee for approval and submission through appropriate channels to the Graduate Dean.

MS Professional Track

Upon approval for admission by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, the major department notifies the student of assignment to an "interim adviser" who counsels the student in early course work and tentative program direction. During the first semester in the program, the student selects, with assistance of the interim advisor, a permanent adviser and advisory committee, which then assumes the advisory role.  Under the direction of the advisory committee, the student is responsible for preparing and securing committee approval of a formal degree plan and submitting the degree plan with an application for candidacy for the master's degree to the Graduate Dean.

Master of Science in Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

Required Courses
MS Non-Thesis Track
Of the 36-hour MS (non-thesis) requirement, a minimum of 18 hours of courses offered by the above departments is required for a major in Agriculture. A 12-hour minor may be chosen in another field but is not required. Two-thirds (24 hours) of the total 36 hours must be 5000-level courses. At least one-half of all hours in a 12-hour minor must be 5000-level. A rigid, standard curriculum required of all students is not imposed; instead, the graduate curriculum is individually planned within certain guidelines by each student and approved by the advisory committee and the Dean of the College of Graduate Students.
All candidates are required to take a graduate-level research course selected from a discipline area most appropriate to their interest and approved by the committee.
A curriculum summary and guideline for the MS in Agriculture (non-thesis) includes the following: 1
Agriculture Sciences (major)18-30
Supporting Fields (may include a 12-hour minor)0-12
Required Research Course (May be a part of a major or support field depending upon discipline emphasized in MS program)3
AGRI 5380Research Writing for Agricultural and Environmental Science3
Total Hours24-48
MS Thesis Track
Minimum requirements for this track are 36 hours above the BS, excluding any required leveling or background courses. The thesis and associated research may be counted as six hours toward the total. Of the remaining 30 hours, a minimum of 18 hours must be in the major. No more than one-third of the major hours may be approved upper-level undergraduate courses. A 12-hour minor in another field may be chosen but is not required. If a minor is declared, no more than one-half of the hours may be approved upper-level undergraduate courses. Of the total 36-hour minimum requirement, no more than one-third may be undergraduate level.
Because of the diversity of agricultural specialties, the student and advisory committee are given discretionary latitude in developing the specific course of study to allow desired specialization in major and minor courses. A typical program of study is as follows: 1
Agriculture Sciences14-16
AGRI 5385Graduate Seminar for Agriculture and Environmental Science1-3
AGRI 5688Thesis1-6
Supporting Fields (may include a 12-hour minor)0-12
Approved Research Course (Selected from discipline most appropriate to research)3
Total Hours19-50
Accelerated (4+1) Option
Dual Credit coursework (counted toward both the BS and MS degree)
AGRI 5385Graduate Seminar for Agriculture and Environmental Science1-3
AGRI 5360Research Methods for Agricultural and Natural Resource Scientist3
AGRI 5380Research Writing for Agricultural and Environmental Science3
AGRI 5390Special Topics3
One graduate course as approved3
Total Dual Credit Hours13
_
Other Program Hours:
18-24 hrs in major as approved by committee
0-6 hrs as advised from supporting fields
Total Hours31-43
1

 36 hour minimum

Comprehensive Examinations

The comprehensive examination for the MS (professional) consists of a written examination.  An oral examination may be required of any candidate with a marginal performance on the written examination.  Instructors of degree plan courses and committee members are invited to submit questions for these examinations.  Upon admission to candidacy, the student and committee schedule the examinations in order that they will be completed at least 20 class days prior to final exams during the long semesters or at least 10 days prior to final exams in summer sessions.  Students must be enrolled during the semester in which the examinations are taken.

For the MS (Research) candidate, upon completion and acceptance of the thesis, a final oral or written examination is scheduled with the advisory committee.  Major emphasis will be directed toward defense of the thesis, course work materials, and other areas of competency identified by the advisory committee.

The comprehensive examination may be attempted once per regular semester or summer.  If the examination performance is not acceptable on first attempt, the specific area(s) of weakness will be identified to the candidate so that corrective action (additional review or required course work) may be taken before the next attempt. If a second attempt is unsuccessful, the candidate is required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of specified course work with a B average before scheduling a third attempt.  A maximum of three attempts is allowed.

Courses

WSES 5084. Professional Practice. 1-6 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-6 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

This supervised professional practice will involve the student in practical activities in the agricultural or natural resource sciences. The experience is tailored to the to the student's interests, and academic and career goals. Experience may include teaching, independent research, internship, or other applied learning experience. May be repeated once for credit. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

WSES 5085. Seminar. 1-3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

A graduate seminar with content varying according to the needs and experiences of students and the instructor of record. May be repeated as content varies. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.

WSES 5086. Problems in Natural Resource Sciences. 1-6 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-6 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Advanced studies in wildlife, sustainability, ecosystem sciences, and the natural resources. Problems assigned according to experience, interest, and needs of the individual student. May be repeated for credit as topics vary.

WSES 5087. Research. 1-6 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-6 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Graduate students conduct original research on a variety of topics in the natural resource sciences toward a graduate thesis. Designed for students who will be conducting field research away from the Stephenville campus. Prerequisites: Graduate standing.

WSES 5088. Thesis. 1-6 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-6 Hours, Lab: 1-6 Hours).

Scheduled when the student is ready to begin the thesis. No credit until the thesis is completed. Prerequisites: Approved research methodology course and approval of instructor of record.

WSES 5090. Special Topics in the Natural Resource Sciences. 1-3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 1-3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Selected topics in wildlife, sustainability, ecosystem science, or the natural resources as needed and dependent upon department, faculty, and student interests. May be repeated as topics vary. Prerequisite: Approval of the instructor.

WSES 5301. Principles of Research in the Natural Resource Sciences. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

This course is a thorough treatment of the philosophy of science as it applies to the ecological, environmental, and natural resource sciences. Starting from the historical foundations of science, students will become familiar with the logical underpinnings of ecological research, including epistemology, the nature of theory, hypothesis testing, and the logic of study design. This course will provide students with a logical understanding of the scientific process, prior to enrollment in more quantitative treatments of study design and data analysis. Students will be required to prepare a complete research proposal in the course. Prerequisite: graduate classification.

WSES 5302. Natural Resource Ecology. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Expanding upon a firm understanding of basic ecology, this course explores the relationship of ecological principles to natural resource, wildlife, and range conservation and management. Topics include ecology’s historical context, evolution, the niche, intraspecific and interspecific competition, succession, predator-prey dynamics, and spatial ecology. Emphasis will be placed on the application of these principles to natural resource issues. The course will include a review of classical and contemporary ecological literature. Prerequisites: graduate classification and BIOL 4401 (or equivalent) or approval of the instructor.

WSES 5303. Graduate Field Studies in Ecology. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Students explore various facets of ecology during extended field trips to various locations in Texas and the other United States. Topics may vary depending upon location. May be repeated for credit when topics vary. This course requires an extended field trip at the student’s expense (in addition to the field experience fee). Prerequisite: graduate classification, and enrollment by permit only and with approval of the instructor.

WSES 5304. Wildlife-Habitat Relationships. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

An advanced study of habitat and wildlife-habitat interactions. This is a graduate level class for individuals with a basic understanding of ecological and wildlife management concepts. Involves review and discussion of important articles on this subject. Includes advanced discussion of concepts such as plant succession, niche, carrying capacity, habitat measurements, and habitat management. Students will learn how habitat and succession may be manipulated to best manage wildlife populations; also how browsers and grazers may affect their habitats. Prerequisites: graduate standing.

WSES 5306. Fire Ecology. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 2 Hours, Lab: 2 Hours).

This course will address the ecological role of fire in natural systems, rangelands, including grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, and forests; adaptations of plants and animals to fire; long-term controls on wild fire; use of fire as an ecosystem management tool, with aspects of wildland firefighting; and prescribed burning, including fire behavior, fuels, weather, politics and policy. Students will gain hands-on prescribed burning experiences as circumstances and weather permit. Lab fee: $2.

WSES 5308. Measuring Animal Behavior. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

An advanced course in the principles and methods of quantitative studies of behavior, with an emphasis on techniques of observation, recording, and analysis.

WSES 5309. Plant-Animal Interactions. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Plant-animal and animal-plant interactions are the basis for many ecosystem functions. This course tailors the study of those interactions to student interests from insects to ungulates, aquatic to terrestrial, managed to natural systems, and individual species to ecosystems. Prerequisite: Graduate classification.

WSES 5310. Presentation of Scientific Findings. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

This course is designed to teach graduate students in the natural resource sciences and allied fields the principles and practices of presenting the results of scientific research. Course focus will be on preparing and delivering oral research presentations and research posters; and the preparation, submission, and publication of scientific journal articles, technical bulletins, and research reports. Prerequisite: Admission into the Research Track of the MS Program in Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and a grade of B or better in BIOL 5380, or approval of the Department Head.

WSES 5311. Integrated Pest Management. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

An advanced study of the principles of integrated pest management emphasizing the ecologically sound use of chemical, biological, cultural, and physical control tactics to manage pests. Students will concentrate on one or few commodities, of their choice, and develop a detailed best management plan. Prerequisites: Graduate standing or approval of the instructor.

WSES 5312. Pesticides. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

A survey of chemical pesticides. Emphasis will be on the chemistry, mode of action, and safe use of insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides. Less common pesticides (rodenticides, piscicides, avicides, etc.) are also reviewed. The use of the products as a part of an integrated pest management program will be discussed. Prerequisites: Graduate classification or approval of the instructor.

WSES 5314. Veterinary Entomology. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Advanced studies in the classification, biology, and management of arthropods associated with livestock and wildlife systems. Emphasis will be placed on arthropod vectors of pathogens and their role in the epidemiology and management of disease. Prerequisites: Graduate classification or approval of the instructor.

WSES 5315. Taxonomy of Veterinary Arthropods. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Advance study of the taxonomy and identification of arthropods affecting wildlife and domesticate animals. Students will utilize various collecting techniques and dichotomous keys to obtain and identify arthropods associated with wildlife and domesticated animals.

WSES 5316. Grant Writing and Funding Aquisition. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

A course in terminology and processes associated with grant writing and the acquisitions of research funds.

WSES 5320. Advanced Topics in Ecosystem Biogeochemistry. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Multidisciplinary analysis of energy and nutrient transfers within terrestrial ecosystems. Examination of processes system interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere.

WSES 5331. Professional Communication. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Advanced discussion of techniques for communicating technical information to diverse audiences. Topics covered will include written and oral communication, using numerous formats. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

WSES 5341. Graduate Study Abroad in Natural Resource Conservation. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

This course will be conducted at various sites outside the United States. The goal of this course will be to introduce students to the natural resources of other countries, with a focus on wildlife and ecosystem management and conservation in the context of continued development. We will address issues such as human-wildlife conflicts, the role of wildlife in ecotourism activities, the provision of ecosystem services by wild animals, and the management of wildlife on both public and private lands. Enrollment in this course requires a significant study abroad program fee. May be repeated for credits when topics vary. Prerequisite: Approval of the instructor.

WSES 5342. Graduate Field Study Abroad in Natural Resource Conservation. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

This is the field component to WSES 5341, where students will engage in hands-on activities geared toward understanding the biology of local wildlife populations and associated management issues. Enrollment in this course requires a significant study abroad program fee. May be repeated for credits when topics vary. Requires concurrent enrollment in the relevant section of WSES 5341. Prerequisite: approval of the instructor.

WSES 5350. Pedology. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Topics selected from studies of soil-forming processes, soil-geomorphic relations, mineral weathering, new developments in soil classification, and development of pedologic theory. Topics vary from year to year. May be repeated one time for credit.

WSES 5360. Research Methods for Agricultural and Natural Resource Scientists. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 1 Hour).

The application of sampling and experimental designs to laboratory and field research for agricultural sciences. Data collection protocols, statistical analyses, instrumentation, computer applications, data presentation, and technical writing associated with plant and animal research. Students are required to design and complete an independent research project or complete components of a thesis.

WSES 5380. Research Writing for Agricultural and Environmental Science. 3 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 0 Hours).

Preparation of writing samples, technical reviews, and/or professional manuscripts related to various topics in agriculture or environmental sciences. Prerequisites: Approved research methodology course and approval of instructor of record. Credit for 2 or more classes of ANSC 5380, AGRI 5380 or ENVS 5380 will not be awarded. Cross-listed with ENVS 5380.

WSES 5405. Ecological Modeling for Natural Resource Management. 4 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 3 Hours).

An advanced course in the use of computer simulations to model and analyze ecological systems. Based on a firm foundation of system theory, the course addresses the conceptual design, building, evaluation, and testing of simulation models; and the use of models to answer ecological questions. Prerequisites: graduate classification.

WSES 5410. Genomics. 4 Credit Hours (Lecture: 3 Hours, Lab: 3 Hours).

Technological advancements in DNA sequencing are producing a much more complete picture of how diverse, ubiquitous, and important microbes are in all living systems. This course will provide students with an overview of the roles that microbes play in human health, agricultural production, and ecosystem functionality. A laboratory component will include massively parallel DNA sequencing and microbial community analysis of niche environments utilizing millions of DNA sequence tags. Prerequisite: BIOL 3407 or equivalent. Lab fee: $2.

Dr. T. Wayne Schwertner, Assistant Department Head
Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences
Joe W. Autry Agriculture Building, Room 201
Box T-0050
Stephenville, Texas USA 76402
(254) 968-9221
(254) 968-9228
schwertner@tarleton.edu

Professors

  • Cawthon, Don
  • Dottavio, F. Dominic
  • Kattes, David
  • Muir, James
  • Wittie, Roger Dr.

Associate professors

  • Breeden, Jeff
  • Cummings, Hennen
  • Lambert, Barry
  • McGregor, Kyle

Assistant professors

  • Brady, Jeff
  • McGahan, Donald
  • McKeehan, Paula
  • Schwertner, T. Wayne

Senior Research Scientist

  • McFarland, Anne