M.S. in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science

Information for students--TCBES Handbook

On this page:

TCBES Handbook

Everything you need to know about the when, what and where of the M.S. TCBES program is in the TCBES Survival Guide!


TCBES Professional Conduct Policy


Need help finding funding for your graduate career? View compiled lists of funding opportunities put together by previous Cohorts.

Graduate Assistantships and Fellowships are available, please check back for the new application deadlines in mid-November 2020.

Fellowships are available with the Hau'oli Mau Loa Foundation for TCBES students.

Graduate Assistantships within Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science (TCBES) at UH Hilo.

  • Please visit our funding opportunities page for additional information on our Graduate Assistantships for the 2021-2022 academic year

Class Preparation: Topics

MS TCBES Students are required to take a total of 8 credits in core courses. Some topics to become familiar with that will prepare you the for core courses CBES 600 Conservatn Biol & Environ Sci (3) and CBES 601 CBES Field & Laboratory Method (4) are listed below.

Environment and Environmental Science

  • Environment, habitat, ecosystem
  • Energy, matter, thermodynamics
  • Atmosphere, soil, water, marine composition and chemistry
  • Sustainability, stewardship, ethics
  • Stability, resilience, persistence, recovery, restoration, uncertainty


  • Biomes, ecoregions, life zones
  • Climatic indices, such as potential evapo-transpiration, to designate life zones

Populations, Communities, and Ecosystems

  • Populations, meta-populations, assemblages, and ecotones
  • Logistic growth and density-dependent population regulation
  • Keystone and dominant species
  • Ecosystem structure and ecosystem function
  • Community interactions, especially inter- and intraspecific competition and predation
  • Habitat, niche, and range
  • Biogeochemical (nutrient) cycles and productivity

Spatial and Temporal Variation or Heterogeneity

  • Microhabitats, habitats, and landscapes
  • Temporal cycles, fluctuations, and disturbances or perturbations
  • Primary and secondary succession


  • Individualistic vs. super-organismic model of communities
  • Equilibrium vs. non-equilibrium models

Anthropogenic Pollution

  • Anthropogenic
  • Accumulation and bio-magnification of pollutants
  • Cultural eutrophication
  • Relationships among major biogeochemical cycles (especially carbon and other greenhouse gases) and climate change

Genetics and Evolution

  • Mitosis and meiosis
  • Genome, chromosome, haploidy, and diploidy
  • Mendelian genetics
  • Gene expression, transcription, and translation
  • Allele, gene, and locus
  • Hardy-Weinberg equation, including its utility and assumptions
  • Species concepts
  • Natural selection, random genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow

Research Design

  • Be familiar with the following terms used in data analysis: sample size, normal distribution, mean, median, variance, standard error, standard deviation, histogram, test statistic, parametric vs. non-parametric statistics, descriptive statistics, power, and power analysis.
  • Be familiar with basic statistical tests (regression, t-tests, analysis of variance, chi-square).
  • Be comfortable with data manipulation, making tables and graphs, and writing papers in scientific writing style similar to what is published in a journal such as Conservation Biology.
  • Be comfortable with giving oral presentations on scientific topics.