ALMA COLLEGE ECOLOGICAL STATION
Location and Description
The Alma College Ecological Station, situated in the northeast corner of Montcalm County, lies within an ecological tension zone between the presettlement northern coniferous forests and the southern deciduous forests. It is approximately 16 miles directly west of Alma and covers almost 200 acres of mixed hardwood forest, open woodland, a willow marsh, and a relic sphagnum-black spruce-tamarack, boreal bog.
Located on the property is a 1600-square-foot research facility. This two-story building has a classroom, full kitchen and bath, sleeping quarters and office. Additionally, there is a 70-foot observation tower located in the forest for sampling strata from the understory to the canopy. The four acre Davis Lake, located in the bog, is a classic glacial kettle lake. It has a 75-foot boardwalk that crosses all the zones of the bog and ends at a floating dock for launching boats. There is a 1.5-mile interpretive trail that circumnavigates the bog and another 1-mile trail that samples all the major habitats of the property.
The ecological station, casually referred to as "the Bog" or "the Station" is used by the biology department for lab field trips for the general biology courses (for both majors and non-majors), ecology, animal behavior and many of the spring term courses. Over the years, numerous students have chosen to conduct independent research projects that have looked at a wide range of topics from ecology to paleontology.
Finally, the Alma College Bird Observatory (ACBO) is also located on the property. ACBO conducts research on the station's breeding birds, its winter bird populations, and birds' migratory uses of the property. The majority of the research is via the capture (in mist nets), marking (with numbered aluminum bands), and release of birds found on the property.