The Queen's University Biological Station is comprised of two centres of operation: the primary research and teaching facility centred on the shores of Lake Opinicon, one of the lakes of the Rideau Canal (approximately 50 km north of Kingston, Ontario, Canada), and the Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre on Elbow Lake just 25 minutes north of Kingston.
The main facility consists of some 32 buildings, including the Raleigh J. Robertson Biodiversity Centre, a library, conference rooms, 12 separate laboratory areas, a workshop, a boat house (pictured at left), an aquarium building, and a variety of accommodation - ranging from one-person sleeping cabins to large cottages and dormitory space. The Raleigh J. Robertson Biodiversity Centre includes year-round kitchen and dining room, washrooms, conference room/classroom, administrative offices, computer rooms, a technical lab, storage areas, laundry and an interpretive area. Although several of the Station's buildings are original, dating back to the late 1940's, others have been added to provide comfortable accommodations for up to 80 people. The Station boasts a fleet of boats, reference collections, audiovisual equipment, computer rooms, and optical and electronic equipment, including a network automated weather stations.
Astride the Frontenac Axis (an extension of the Canadian Shield into the sedimentary rocks that surround the Great Lakes Basin), QUBS provides access to a wide variety of habitats. Lakes of various types and sizes are close by. So, too, are landscapes with a range of human influence and alteration, a varied topography, specialized environments, and high biodiversity. The area offers a fascinating juxtaposition of northern and southern flora and fauna.
A series of land purchases, gifts to Queen's, and agreements with conservancies have expanded the landbase to more than 3200 hectares, including eight small lakes and extensive shoreline on Lake Opinicon and Hart Lake, and habitats ranging from abandoned farmland to mature second-growth forest. In the face of continuing development, these additions have provided crucial long-term security for study sites. For many species of plants and animals, especially those with large home ranges or particular requirements, the conservation value of the QUBS property is substantial.
From the beginning the station has had multiple mandates -- teaching, research, and public outreach. Students may conduct field work as part of the requirements for an advanced degree -- an Honours BSc, Master's, or Doctorate. For these students, the distinction between research, teaching, and training often becomes fuzzy. Research at QUBS has produced more than 800 peer-reviewed research papers and over 250 undergraduate and graduate theses.
Part of the success of QUBS is the mixture of researchers from a variety of institutions. On a regular basis, the field station hosts researchers from a spectrum of universities including Queen's, Carleton U. (Ottawa), U. Ottawa, U. of Toronto, Illinois Natural History Survey (Champaign, Ill.), Ithaca College (Ithaca, N.Y.), University of Western Ontario (UWO), and the University of Windsor. International researchers also make use of QUBS and we have had many visiting researchers from Asia, Europe, the USA and Latin America. The interaction among scientists from various universities, pursuing myriad research questions, makes the field station a lively, challenging and interesting place to conduct field work.
For 69 years, the Queen's University Biological Station has drawn energy and motivation from generations of youthful, creative, inquisitive students. Whether enrolled in field courses, pursuing their own research initiatives, assisting with established studies or on short-term outings as part of regular curriculum courses, their field experience is the measure of success of the Biological Station. The continued and increasing importance of hands-on exposure to biological principles sets the course of the field station for the future.