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Trip to Flathead Lake Bio Station

By Doug MacCarter.

Field Trip Participants – Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

On a beautiful June 19th, fifteen scientifically curious folks met at the Flathead Lake Biological Station to learn about birds and research conducted at the University of Montana’s field station at Yellow Bay. The group was met first by field trip leader Doug MacCarter, and later by the Station Assistant Director Tom Bansak.

 

Tom Bansek talking to participants – Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

Participants enjoyed an overview discussion of the Station at the dock on the shore. We learned that besides a resident staff, there are visiting graduate students from the University of Montana and other institutions. During the summer there is a summer session when students take courses at the Station. As it happened Dave and Naomi Manuwal, new members of FAS, had met at the Station 50 years ago this month. They enjoyed seeing the seeing the Station again, although it has changed with new labs, including one that measures low levels of nitrogen and phosphorus in relatively undisturbed lakes such as Flathead Lake.

Tom Bansak took us on a tour of the facility where we saw several of the laboratories where research is being conducted. Some of the focal research includes: Flathead Lake water quality and lake ecology; lake trophic cascade (especially the impact of introduced organisms on native lake animals and plants); physical limnology, river flood plain biocomplexity; and satellite and aerial imagery which allows a view of interrelated ecosystems.

During the facilities tour, several birds were observed including the Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warbler, American Robin, Tree Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, Swainson’s Thrush, Cassin’s Vireo, and Western Tanager.

Boat tour on Flathead Lake – Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

After the facilities tour we put on life jackets and went on a boat trip on Flathead Lake where we learned about some of the long-term research on the physical and biological characteristics of Flathead Lake. We traveled to the south end of the lake where Doug MacCarter helped find nesting Bald Eagles and Ospreys. Doug commented on the increased number of ospreys since he and his brother studied them here from 1966 to 1976. He is involved in a new study to re-survey the earlier areas for comparison.

 

It was a great day on the water. We returned to the Station where we ate lunch at picnic tables near the beach. We had a great experience and have a new appreciation for the valuable research and education that occurs at the Station.

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