Someone who studies nature, and the organisms within nature, is called an ecologist. Generally speaking, they are people who care about the Earth and try to find ways to preserve it. Most have at least a bachelor's degree, either in ecology or some related field, such as biology or life sciences, and many have advanced graduate degrees as well.
The main job of an ecologist is to perform research, and many prepare field studies based on concerns about the environment. For example, one may study the environmental impact, or consequences, of building a dam near a largely forested area. He or she would consider how this change in the environment would affect individual species of trees, plants and wildlife, as well as how the change would affect the ecosystem as a whole. The information gathered would then be typed up with a recommendation and presented to the government, local environmental organizations, and anyone else who may have a hand in building the dam.
Ecologists don't do all of their studies in the field. They typically read and analyze research by other ecologists, use computer simulations, and perform laboratory studies of animals and plants. These professionals use the data from their studies to create reports and to make recommendations. They also supervise and advise any actions that may change the environment, such as a new factory being built or turning a previously occupied area back into a habitat that will be suitable for wildlife.
A large part of being an ecologist is education, both for the individual and for the community. This person needs to be constantly learning, keeping up to date on current research and trends. Ecologists also spend a lot of time educating others, sometimes as teachers or university professors. Others work with the community, speaking at seminars and other events about the importance of preserving the Earth. They may also work as advisers, consultants or advocates, helping local companies or governments operate in a way that will not harm the environment.
Ecologists spend most of their time doing research, analyzing data and preparing reports. They also work within their communities, encouraging others to help them with their goal of protecting the environment. Some choose to specialize in a particular aspect of ecology, such as wetlands, tropical or even urban areas. There are dozens of different career possibilities that someone can pursue in this field, all with the main goal of conservation.