Ecosystem Preserve / About Us / Research

We are dedicated to protecting and caring for our lands through restoration, field research, education, and community engagement. We invite you to learn more below about the ecological features of our preserves, as well as our field research and land management activities. You can contribute to the care of and ever-expanding knowledge about these lands by conducting field research and/or becoming a volunteer.

Read the Research Protocols  

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Download Research Summary Form  

  • Field research at the Ecosystem Preserve

    Since 1985, scientific research has been conducted at the Ecosystem Preserve, in both the Buiten Wildlife Sanctuary and the public area of the preserve. Research of various topics is conducted by Calvin professors and their students during classes and as summer research projects. It is also conducted by Calvin student employees under the direction of Dr. James Skillen as they study the ecology of the preserve.

    Current and past research projects at the Ecosystem Preserve include:

    • Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Study (1988-present)
    • Archeological Survey (2009)
    • Breeding Bird Inventory (1986-present)
    • Eastern Box Turtle Study (1986-present)
    • Fossil Pollen Study
    • Geographic Information System (GIS) Database (2009)
    • Small Mammals Survey (1988-present)
    • Trail Camera Study (2009-present)
    • Tree Census Study (1974-present)

    For more information about a specific project, research methodology, or data obtained, contact Dr. James Skillen.

  • Field research at Flat Iron Lake

    Since 2007, Calvin students have conducted research at Flat Iron Lake Preserve during the summer. These students spend the summer living at the preserve doing research under the direction of Dr. Will Miller and Dr. Dave Warners. Dr. Miller's students will be studying the distribution and abundance of ticks in West Michigan. Dr. Warners' students have been developing a floristic description of the terrestrial and shallow water systems of the preserve. Preserve Senior Fellow Dr. Randy Van Dragt's former students studied the ecology of the lake, and conducted small mammal, invertebrate and breeding bird inventories. Calvin students interested in assisting with research should visit the biology department's summer research page for more details, and speak directly with the professor leading the investigation.

    Current and past research projects at the Flat Iron Lake Preserve include:

    • Bathymetric Map of Flat Iron Lake (2008)
    • Benthic Invertebrate Survey (2012)
    • Effect of Prairie Burns on Insect Populations (2013- present)
    • Fish and Plankton Inventory (2010)
    • Floral Inventory & Phenology (2008- present)
    • Role of Invertebrates in the Food Web of Flat Iron Lake (2009)
    • Small Mammal & Breeding Bird Inventory (2011)

    For more information about a specific project, research methodology, or data obtained, contact Dr. James Skillen.


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