The Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens and Flat Iron Lake Preserves are living laboratories for Calvin faculty and students to conduct field research. The data gained from a multitude of long-term field studies has greatly enhanced our knowledge about the preserve lands as a whole, as well as the species that live in each habitat. At the same time, it provides Calvin students with important, practical experience in scientific research.

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 and Jennifer Howell, 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 (1886-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.

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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