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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

Lakeside Lab as seen from Doulas Lake.

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.

Molecular Lab

We have a complete genetics laboratory designed for basic DNA extraction, agarose gel electrophoresis and quantitative PCR. Other instruments include

  • benchtop centrifuge
  • benchtop autoclave
  • digital scale
  • constant temperature bath
  • microwave
  • MultiDoc-it UV mini-darkroom (UVP)
  • gel casters
  • Stratagene Robocycler gradient 96 PCR machine
  • UV Crosslinker (UVP CL-1000)
  • Class II biosafety cabinet (Labconco)

Equipment Stockroom

Laboratory and field equipment and supplies may be checked out from the Stockroom in Stockard Lakeside Lab. A list of the more major pieces of equipment is available here. To inquire about a specific piece of equipment, e-mail the stockroom or call 231-539-8407.

Atmospheric Research Towers

An atmospheric research tower at UMBS.Photo by Bob Berg, Michigan Creative

The Biological Station is home to three atmospheric research towers:

  • The AmeriFlux tower is a 46-meter, self-supporting structure with an associated lab building, power, and wireless communication. It was added in 1998 to study the movement of carbon dioxide and water in a forested ecosystem with continuous measurements of CO2 and many environmental parameters. 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.
  • The FASET tower is a 34-meter tower built in 2007 to follow the results of the Forest Accelerated Succession ExperimenT (FASET) project. 

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.

The Stream Lab Research Facility at UMBS shown during the summer 2017 season.

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

Researchers Leslie Decker (left) and Abby Potts evaluate milkweed plants grown in the elevated CO2 chambers at UMBS.

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; 
  • 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 underground soil biotron at UMBS.

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 UMBS Greenhouse located in the old ball field.

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.