A window into our changing environment

A window into our changing environment

The Queen’s University Biological Station shares more than seven decades of field research.

By Communications Staff

October 3, 2019


Research vessel at Queen's University Biological Station
A research vessel at the Queen's University Biological Station

For over 70 years, the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) has been fertile ground for researchers studying the environment, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Experts in fields as diverse as limnology, ecotoxicology, invasive species biology, conservation biology, remote sensing, and pollination ecology have all come to QUBS from a variety of Ontario universities, and institutions from across Canada and around the globe to study the myriad plant and animal species and the heterogeneous landscape that define the station.

Now, this research has been assembled and made available to anyone in the new searchable QUBS research projects portal. This archive assembles over 1,000 peer-reviewed journal articles that were published between 1952 and 2019, and it will be continually updated as new articles are published. Users can find a rich diversity of topics in the archive, ranging from the ecological impacts of invasive species to caterpillar communication to the causes and consequences of declining animal populations.

The breadth and depth of research featured in this archive can provide insights into the ways that habitats and species in Eastern Ontario have changed since the 1950s in response to shifting environments. This makes the Research Projects online archive an important resource for researchers who are investigating the effects of climate change on Ontario over that timeframe.

Long-term data collected at QUBS can provide pivotal insights into the consequences of environmental changes on local species. For instance, Dr. Frances Bonier, Associate Professor in the Department of Biology, along with MSc student Amelia Cox, Queen’s Professor Emeritus Raleigh Robertson, and collaborators, recently used egg laying and fledgling data that they gathered at QUBS from 1975 to 2017 to evaluate the effects of climate change on a local population of tree swallows. With the launch of this new online archive, this type of research will be more accessible to anyone interested in studying our changing environment.

“For decades QUBS has been fortunate to host incredible researchers from many universities” says QUBS Director Dr. Stephen Lougheed. “This online portal brings all of this amazing research together within a single searchable archive, making it more accessible to professors, students, and the public.”

Situated about 35 km north of Kingston within the Frontenac Arch UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, QUBS encompasses over 3,400 hectares of land and provides access to a wide variety of habitats, including nine small lakes, extensive shoreline on Lake Opinicon and Hart Lake, abandoned farmland, and mature second-growth forest. These habitats feature remarkable biodiversity with a wonderful juxtaposition of northern and southern flora and fauna. For many species there, QUBS also serves an important role in their conservation. 

Researchers have come to QUBS from many institutions, including Tongji University, Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Virginia Tech, Ithaca College, and Western University. The interactions among researchers and students at QUBS contribute to its reputation as a vibrant and stimulating place to conduct fieldwork.

Beyond hosting researchers, QUBS has provided terrific experiential learning opportunities for generations of students. Every year, many students from the undergraduate to doctoral levels use QUBS for their own research projects. Many students also work as research assistants or in science outreach. The station also welcomes doctoral students from universities across Ontario each July for The Lake Shift, a week-long writing retreat. Earlier this year, it also hosted the 2019 Summer Institute for the Indigenous Mentorship Network of Ontario.

The vital work done by Queen’s researchers at QUBS is a part of the university’s broader commitment to research on the environment and sustainability. Learn more about the discoveries Queen’s researchers are making to help protect our planet on the new Queen’s research website.

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