Research Facilities

UMBS invites researchers interested in either collaborative research or individual projects using these facilities to contact us.  We can help you ascertain the feasibility of specific research projects, the availability of a summer fellowship supporting initial research, available equipment, and user fees.

Alfred H. Stockard Lakeside Laboratory

Alfred H. Stockard Lakeside Laboratory is a modern research building situated immediately adjacent to Douglas Lake. This 50-room, 24,000-square-foot, year-around facility is centrally heated and ventilated. Its laboratories contain compressed air, gas, well and lake water, fume hoods, refrigerators and ethernet connectivity. 

In addition to laboratory, office and classroom space, and a computer laboratory, Lakeside Laboratory houses many special research facilities.  These include a molecular laboratory, an analytical chemistry laboratory, a water chemistry laboratory with a segmented flow analyzer, and an elemental analyzer.  It also has a stockroom where students and researchers can check out equipment for use in the field or lab and large boat well for the Station's watercraft.

The building was dedicated in honor of former UMBS Director, Alfred H. Stockard, who secured NSF Funding for its construction in the mid-1960s.

Atmospheric Research Towers

The Biological Station is home to two atmospheric research towers.  The PROPHET  (Program for Research on Oxidants: PHochemistry, Emissions and Transport) tower was constructed in 1996 to study atmospheric chemical and meteorological processes linked to tropospheric ozone and oxidant formation. In 1998, the AmeriFlux tower was added to study the movement of carbon dioxide and water in a forested ecosystem with continuous measurements of CO2 and many environmental parameters.

The PROPHET Laboratory is located in a recently undisturbed and well-characterized mixed deciduous/coniferous forest. The lab has been working to understand the role of biogenic hydrocarbon emissions on the distribution of nitrogen containing compounds since the inception of PROPHET. Descriptions of these efforts can be found at the lab's website.

As a result of the lab’s work to date, attention has turned to a focus on biosphere-atmosphere interactions. While it is well known that nitrogen is a critically important nutrient to plants, the relative role of atmospheric deposition as a source of this nitrogen, and the importance of the nature of atmospheric nitrogen, is much less well defined. 

The AmeriFlux Tower is a 46-meter, self-supporting structure with an associated lab building, power, and wireless communication. The AmeriFlux Network is a network of ~100 meteorological towers located across the Americas that measure the movement of carbon dioxide, or the flux of carbon dioxide, into and out of ecosystems using a technique called eddy correlation. 

By mounting instruments above the forest canopy that measure three-dimensional wind speed and direction, carbon dioxide concentration, and a number of other climatic variables such as rainfall, light intensity, and temperature, the eddy correlation technique can be used to calculate the flow of carbon dioxide through ecosystems from hourly to yearly time scales. 

To date, researchers working at the site have observed large year-to-year variation in the net amount of carbon the UMBS forest takes up (net carbon uptake = forest growth) that is positively correlated with the total amount of solar radiation the forest “sees” during the growing season and the length of the growing season. Ameriflux researchers have also found that tree growth and fluxes measured from the tower do not necessarily match up within a given year, but that tree growth is better correlated with the previous year’s net carbon uptake by the forest.

The UMBS AmeriFlux investigators also measure a number of “on-the-ground” processes such as soil carbon dioxide flux, tree leaf, stem and root respiration, leaf level physiology as well as automated measures of soil temperature, heat flux and moisture. These data not only allow for the development of site-specific carbon cycling models, but also for more comprehensive across-site modeling efforts given the wide variety of other AmeriFlux sites where similar measurements are made.  The latest information on this research is available here.

Stream Research Facility

The Stream Research Facility is designed for conducting experimental and manipulative studies on stream organisms and stream processes. Researchers have used it to study stream ecology, algal ecology, fish ecology, and the structure and function of communities of various aquatic organisms. It is equipped with outdoor artificial stream channels of various dimensions that permit simulation of most of the stream habitats of the region.

Water for the facility is pumped from the East Branch of the Maple River and from a groundwater well.  It is then distributed throughout the experimental area by PVC pipes and valves. After use in the facility, water is collected and discharged back to the river.

Various sizes of artificial stream channels may be used, from 13-cm.-wide vinyl gutters to wooden channels 30 cm. wide. These channels allow manipulation of water temperature and water chemistry, substrates, groups of organisms, and other experimental conditions. 

The experimental area is designed for easy access and observation of the channels, and even video analysis where necessary. 

An 8.5 m x 7 m laboratory building stands next to the concrete pads holding the artificial streams. This on-site building enables immediate preparation and analysis of samples and solutions for manipulations, instrument space for monitoring conditions in the experimental streams, equipment maintenance and repair, and storage. An overhead door on one side of the building facilitates movement of large equipment.

The East Branch of the Maple River is a typical boreal stream and the closest big stream to the UMBS campus. Its source is an alkaline glacial lake (Douglas Lake) and it eventually empties into another glacial lake (Burt Lake). The mix of ground and surface water supplies to the Maple River make it a hydrologically interesting system to study. The specific site chosen provides excellent access to pools, riffles, and runs and has a diverse assemblage of substrate types. Finally, from its source at Douglas Lake to well downstream of the lab site, the Maple River is entirely on UMBS property and subject to minimal human disturbance. 

Elevated Carbon Dioxide Facility

The elevated carbon dioxide facility has arrays of both large and small open-top chambers to study the responses of plants and other organisms to rising atmospheric CO2. Enough carbon dioxide can be delivered to the experimental chambers to double the ambient concentration (control chambers).

Several investigators have studied the effects of elevated CO2 on the above- and below-ground responses of native deciduous trees such as bigtooth and trembling aspen, sugar maple, and hemlock, and on herbaceous species including crucifers, legumes, C3 and C4 grasses, and several invasive species including cattails and spotted knapweed. 

Soil Biotron

The underground soil biological laboratory ("Biotron") is modeled after the successful East Malling Laboratory. It construction was funded by the National Science Foundation to facilitate manipulative experiments with roots, mycorrhizae, microbes, and invertebrates.

The Soil Biotron differs from most lysimeter-rhizotrons in having removable windows for access to soil biota. Tree species surrounding the facility include big-tooth aspen, white birch, red oak, red maple, beech, red pine, and small white pines. Soil temperature is currently being recorded and photographs showing the initial condition of each window (544 total) have been taken. Nearly 500 trees adjacent to the Biotron have been permanently tagged and their diameters recorded. 

Photographic documentation can be accomplished by either still 35 mm macro-photography, photo microphotography (650x), or time-lapse video recording. Support facilities available in the nearby Lakeside Laboratory include a culture room with laminar flow hood, darkrooms, chemical analysis laboratory, computer facilities, and a computer link to practically anywhere.

Zero Emissions Canopy Access Vehicle (ZECAV)

The Zero Emission Canopy Access Vehicle (ZECAV or "Zeke") serves a critical need for extending measurements made at our fixed atmospheric towers to wider ranges of canopy habitats. Much of our field research focuses on canopy processes. Exchanges of various greenhouse and reactive gases (CO2, water vapor, O3, N oxides, volatile organic compounds) and energy balances are measured using sensors mounted on permanently located towers (Carbon Flux Project and PROPHET).

A ZECAV is well suited for our forests, where canopy heights are typically 16 to 18m. The narrow wheelbase and tailswing width (1.2m) allows canopy access from seasonal roads and foot trails within UMBS forests. Off trail access is manageable in forest stands where tree densities are <300/hectare. A critical feature of this vehicle is its ability to operate continuously in ‘lift mode’ for 2 days on rechargeable batteries. This allows for zero emissions of CO2, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and other gases when the vehicle is being used to measure gas fluxes. This feature is ideal in research environments where trace gas fluxes are the object of study.


The greenhouse is approximately 40-feet wide by 80-feet long and has five rooms. The three front rooms are the work space room, the office, and the small restroom. The two largest rooms of the greenhouse are available for research activities. These rooms have automatic ventilation controls, misting benches, and considerable table space.

The greenhouse is located close to the elevated CO2 research area.