About the Biological Station

From the beginning the Queen's University Biological Station has had a dual mandate of teaching and research. In the early years, students often served as research assistants, and received training in field biology while working for various professors on established studies. While this continues, most students now work on their own projects as part of their degrees — Honours BSc, Master's, or Doctorate. Research spans many disciplines including limnology (and paleolimnology), ecotoxicology, fisheries, conservation biology, GIS, ecology and evolutionary biology.

The main facility at Opinicon consists of some 32 buildings, including the Raleigh J. Robertson Biodiversity Centre, a library, conference rooms, 12 separate laboratories for research, a workshop, an aquarium building, and a variety of accommodations, ranging from one-person sleeping cabins to large cottages and dormitory space. The Biodiversity Centre includes year-round kitchen and dining room, washrooms, conference room/classroom, administrative offices, computer rooms, a technical lab, storage areas, laundry and an interpretive area. Although several of the Station's buildings are original, dating back to the late 1940's, others have been added more recently to provide comfortable accommodations for up to 80 people. Opinicon boasts a fleet of boats, reference collections including a herbarium and other natural history collections, a GIS lab and data archive, and a network of satellite-linked climate stations that track water, soil and air temperatures, relative humidity, precipitation, wind speed and direction, and solar irradiance.

Our Elbow Lake Environmental Education Centre campus has 14 core buildings including a central pavilion and 10 hexagonal 2-bedroom cabins. Together, these buildings can accommodate groups of 30-40 people comfortably for meetings, small conferences and public outreach events. Elbow Lake is the outreach arm of QUBS offering outreach programs in environmental and conservation science and natural history to school groups and the public.

Situated within the Frontenac Axis (an extension of the Canadian Shield into the sedimentary rocks that surround the Great Lakes Basin), QUBS provides access to a wide variety of habitats. Lakes of various types and sizes are close by. So, too, are landscapes with a range of human influence and alteration, a varied topography, specialized environments, and high biodiversity. The area offers a fascinating juxtaposition of northern and southern flora and fauna.

A series of property additions via donations and partnerships have expanded the facility to more than 3400 hectares, including nine small lakes plus extensive shoreline on Lake Opinicon and Hart Lake, and habitats ranging from abandoned farmland to mature second-growth forest. In the face of continuing development, these additions have provided crucial long-term security for study sites. For many species of plants and animals, especially those with large home ranges or particular requirements, the conservation value of the QUBS property is substantial.

Part of the success of QUBS is the unique mix of researchers and students from many institutions from Ontario, across Canada and many other countries. The field station often hosts researchers from Queen's, Carleton University (Ottawa), University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, Illinois Natural History Survey (Champaign, Ill.), Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA), Ithaca College (Ithaca, NY), Western University (London), and the University of Windsor. Many international researchers also make use of QUBS from institutions in Western Europe, China and Latin America. The interaction among researchers from many universities, pursuing myriad research questions, makes the field station a lively, challenging and interesting place to conduct fieldwork.

For over 75 years, the Queen's University Biological Station has drawn energy and motivation from generations of youthful, creative, inquisitive students. Whether enrolled in field courses, pursuing their own research initiatives, assisting with established studies or on short-term outings as part of regular curriculum courses, their field experience is the measure of success of the Biological Station. The continued and increasing importance of hands-on exposure to biological principles will set the course of the field station for the future.

I've spent more time than many will believe [making microscopic observations], but I've done them with joy, and I've taken no notice those who have said why take so much trouble and what good is it?

Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

It's a parts list... If I gave you the parts list for the Boeing 777 and it had 100,000 parts, I don't think you could screw it together and you certainly wouldn't understand why it flew

Eric Lander

What is true for E. coli is also true for the elephant

Jacques Monod

The world becomes full of organisms that have what it takes to become ancestors. That, in a sentence, is Darwinism

Richard Dawkins

Shall we conjecture that one and the same kind of living filaments is and has been the cause of all organic life?

Erasmus Darwin

Nature proceeds little by little from things lifeless to animal life in such a way that it's impossible to determine the line of demarcation


Cells let us walk, talk, think, make love, and realize the bath water is cold

Lorraine Lee Cudmore

In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history

Charles Darwin

It is my belief that the basic knowledge that we're providing to the world will have a profound impact on the human condition and the treatments for disease and our view of our place on the biological continuum

J. Craig Venter

Imagine a house coming together spontaneously from all the information contained in the bricks: that is how animal bodies are made

Neil Shubin

A grain in the balance will determine which individual shall live and which shall die - which variety or species shall increase in number, and which shall decrease, or finally become extinct

Charles Darwin

The stuff of life turned out to be not a quivering, glowing, wondrous gel but a contraption of tiny jigs, springs, hinges, rods, sheets, magnets, zippers, and trapdoors, assembled by a data tape whose information is copied, downloaded and scanned

Steven Pinker

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biologic interest

Rosalind Franklin

We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget

Mary Roach

The systems approach to biology will be the dominant theme in medicine

Leroy Hood

I've always been interested in animal behavior, and I keep reading about it because it's so surprising all the time - so many things are happening around us that we neglect to look at. Part of the passion I have for biology is based on this wonderment"

Isabella Rossellini

Because all of biology is connected, one can often make a breakthrough with an organism that exaggerates a particular phenomenon, and later explore the generality

Thomas Cech

Nothing in Biology makes sense except in the light of evolution

Theodosius Dobzhansky

Biology is now bigger than physics, as measured by the size of budgets, by the size of the workforce, or by the output of major discoveries; and biology is likely to remain the biggest part of science through the twenty-first century

- Freeman Dyson

Nothing can be more incorrect than the assumption one sometimes meets with, that physics has one method, chemistry another, and biology a third

- Thomas Huxley