About Us

The Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (FWCB) comprises a multidisciplinary group of scholars working on applied and fundamental problems related to the ecology of free-ranging wild animals, management of harvested and invasive species, and documentation and conservation of biodiversity. The mission of FWCB is to foster a high-quality natural environment by contributing to the management, protection, and sustainable use of fisheries and wildlife resources through teaching, research, and outreach. Our goals are to respond to societal needs for information and education pertaining to the conservation of our natural resources and to ensure excellent teaching, research, and outreach programs. 

The University of Minnesota campus is located in the heart of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area, which is at the confluence of two major rivers (the Mississippi and Minnesota) and at the transition of the Great Plains grasslands and Great Lakes forests. FWCB is one of 12 academic departments in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) at the University of Minnesota. The department is home to the Minnesota Cooperative Fisheries and Wildlife Research Unit (MCFWRU), a partnership of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Wildlife Management Institute.

Our research is responsive. Most of the research we pursue is intended to fill a critical gap in knowledge that will improve conservation and natural resource decisions. Our work contributes to advancing understanding of the biology, ecology, and evolution of species or groups of species, and the ecosystems in which they live. We provide guidance for planning, management, or restoration of populations, ecosystems, and landscapes, and seek effective ways to engage people in natural resource conservation. For example, managing fish and wildlife populations effectively depends on being able to accurately evaluate the status of populations, diagnose why some species thrive in some places but not others, and identify and adapt policies based on their effectiveness. FWCB has nation-leading faculty expertise in quantitative methods, which is at the core of advancing new decision-making approaches for managing fish and wildlife.

FWCB has a long tradition of public engagement. Our science—from waterfowl ecology to large mammal conservation, from invasive species biology to ecological restoration -- is connected to Minnesota and the other locations in which we work around the world. FWCB is a hub of innovation for citizen science, which empowers people to formally contribute to conservation problem-solving. Our key citizen science programs, such as Minnesota Master Naturalists and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Detectors, have statewide reach and impact. Our partnership with the Bell Museum of Natural History allows us to integrate research and conservation education.

Expand all

Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

The Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit emphasizes research on impacts of human activities on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems that are of state, regional, and national significance. The research program addresses not only the biological, but also social and economic aspects of both game and nongame fisheries and wildlife management in the context of maintenance of biological diversity, and integrity and sustainability of ecosystems. 

Unit Leader: Dr. David E. Andersen

Assistant Leader-Wildlife: Dr. David C. Fulton

Assistant Leader-Fish: Dr. Lynn Waterhouse

Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center

The Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center's mission is to develop research-based solutions that can reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species in Minnesota by preventing spread, controlling populations, and managing ecosystems; and to advance knowledge to inspire action by others. MAISRC's vision is to be a vibrant and durable research enterprise that advances the knowledge and builds the capacity that Minnesota needs in order to reduce the impacts of aquatic invasive species on our cherished lakes, rivers, and wetlands.

MAISRC Director: Dr. Nick Phelps

Minnesota Master Naturalist Program

The mission of the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program is to promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of Minnesota’s natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities. Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteers are a motivated group of fun and interesting people: teachers, retired professionals, nature guides, hunters, eco-tour operators, farmers, and...YOU!

Ecological Restoration Training Cooperative

The Ecological Restoration certificate is a 150-hour program of five required courses, offered twice per year. The program provides early-career professionals with the practical skills and knowledge necessary to undertake the most common kinds of Midwestern restorations including revegetation of prairies, wetlands, lakeshores, forests and savannas.

These courses were developed in partnership with staff from several Minnesota state agencies who identified a critical need to train more restoration professionals to meet the growing demand for these skills. 

Minnesota Native Mussel Project

The Minnesota Native Mussel Project highlights the activities of several organizations working to manage mussel communities and conserve rare species. The United States holds the greatest diversity of freshwater mussels on the planet; a significant portion of which live in upper midwest rivers and streams.

Bell Museum Scientific Research & Collections

FWCB faculty work in collaboration with the Bell Museum to research and curate Amphibians & Reptiles (15,000+ specimens), Fish (41,000+ specimens) and Bird Collections (45,000+).