Snowshoeing for credit
Thus far my postings have largely revolved around the research activities at QUBS. In doing so, I have neglected to mention one of the station's main functions - to serve as a teaching facility. Each year a handful of field courses are held at QUBS. Most occur in early May and late August, sidestepping the period of high demand by researchers (late May through July).
The most recent field course took place from 16-25 February. With the appropriate theme "Winter Ecology and Conservation Biology," Raleigh Robertson led 16 well-bundled students around QUBS to discuss the ways in which organisms survive the (typically) harsh Ontario winter. They spent the first few days exploring a variety of habitats in and around QUBS, as well as the popular "Owl Woods" on Amherst Island. Birders in the group were pleased to see eagles, hawks, harriers, shrikes, owls, and ravens. Those interested in organisms of the aquatic variety got a taste of the Warner Lake Ecological Observatory, a hydrophone array equipped to track the year-round movements of largemouth bass, while the insect-lovers among them could marvel at the freeze-tolerance capacity of invertebrates like the goldenrod gall fly. Regardless of their taxonomic preference, all could enjoy making their way through the woods via a good ol' fashioned pair of snowshoes.
Raleigh's field course was the first, but it certainly won't be the last to make use of QUBS' facilities in the coming year. Out of 37 field courses offered through the Ontario Universities Program in Field Biology, nearly a quarter (9) will be held at QUBS, with topics ranging from the ecology of reptiles and amphibians to the systematics of flowering plants. Students and professors alike will enjoy plenty of land for hiking, lakes for canoeing, cottages for sleeping, and cooks for meal preparation. With facilities such as these, QUBS provides the necessary ingredients with which to immerse glossy-eyed undergraduates in the fascinating world of field biology!