Statisticians have a background in Mathematics and Statistics which they use to calculate probabilities. When they combine this with knowledge of ecology and biodiversity, they can specialise in calculating useful probabilities in the behaviour of whole populations of plant and animal species.
A key advantage of this career is that it plays an important role in helping to deal with some of the key issues that face our society and our planet, such as climate change, flooding and the loss of biodiversity.
An environmental statistician’s job inherently cuts across different areas of expertise (hydrology, ecology, climate science) so there is the opportunity for having a varied workload.
Environmental and ecological data present many challenging statistical problems and new issues are constantly arising as new data collection technologies are developed (satellite imaging, electronic tagging, gene sequencing) – environmental statistics can, therefore, be an exciting and intellectually stimulating field in which to work.
Statisticians working in this sector may tackle problems in areas such as the following:
Schooling & School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.
Degree: follow a BSc degree in Ecology or related subject at any university, making sure that Statistics is part of the course.
Post-graduate study: For optimum career opportunities this degree should be followed by a MSc or PhD in Biostatistics, as most demand is for statisticians who can work with scientists from other disciplines, have a wide knowledge of available statistical methods and the confidence to provide the necessary statistical quality control on their work without day-to-day supervision.
Possible Career Paths
Resource statisticians should specialise in a particular field. Expertise in a particular area of methodology can bring you into contact with many different fields of application, and open up new opportunities in your career.
Rapid career advancement is most likely for those who can provide innovative, practical solutions to applied problems, who have the ability to engage in and contribute to multidisciplinary projects. Senior positions will often involve the management of staff and will typically involve some degree of responsibility for seeking and securing new funding.
• research institutes such as SAIAB, SANBI and SAEON
• universities, where they also teach
Animal Demography Unit
University of Cape Town
South African Statistical Association
P O Box 27321
Tel: (012) 997-0653
South African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)
Building C, Ground Floor
41 De Havilland Crescent
Tel: (012) 349-7722
The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)
2 Cussonia Ave
Tel: (012) 843-5000
South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)
Private Bag 1015
Tel: (046) 603-5800
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