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The Biological Station was established in 1909 simultaneously with the Engineering camp, Camp Davis, along the southern shore of Douglas Lake in Cheboygan County, Michigan. When the civil engineers moved Camp Davis to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1929 the biologists relocated their station on the former Camp Davis site.

Dr. George R. LaRue, Director, 1917-39, was largely responsible for a faculty of great reputation and the establishment of a modern physical plant. Dr. Alfred H. Stockard, who had been Secretary to the Director since 1931, assumed the position. The faculty in 1940 was distinguished and nearly all had an international reputation. He served as director until his death in 1966. Frederick K. Sparrow, Professor of Botany at the University became Acting Director for 1967-68 and Director from 1969 through 1971. While Dr. Sparrow was on leave in 1968, Alexander H. Smith, Professor of Botany, served as Deputy Acting Director. Dr. David M. Gates, Director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, became Professor of Botany in Ann Arbor and Director of the Station in September 1971. The increasing complexity of the Station's operation and many deferred activities suggested that a full-time Administrative Manager position be established the year around. Mark W. Paddock assumed this position. During summer sessions there was additional administrative assistance and a social director, a position previously designated Dean of Women. Clem Bur retired in 1972 after being associated with the Station for over fifty years and as caretaker since 1940.

World War II interrupted golden years of Station growth and achievement. Some of the professors were involved in the war effort teaching elsewhere or exploring jungles for new sources of quinine or rubber. Student enrollment fell to the lowest in decades, but following the war enrollments jumped to all-time highs.

During the years 1940 through 1975 the Station acquired 5,691 additional acres, bringing the total ownership to 9,615 acres. In 1975 the Chase S. Osborn tract of 3,000 acres on Sugar Island near Sault Ste. Marie was transferred from the Graduate School to the Station.

A couple of toilet-shower buildings were built in the late 1940s, the library in 1949, and Cort Laboratory about 1952. The Superintendent's house was built in 1967. The university administration realized in the 1960s that if the station was to have a year-round research program it would need winterized facilities. The old boathouse was torn down and with funds from the National Science Foundation the Alfred H. Stockard Lakeside Laboratory was built in 1966. A dormitory to provide winterized housing was also completed in 1966. Faculty cabin 48 was built in 1971. A large bequest, $97,000, left to the Station by Professor and Mrs. Charles W. Creaser, became available in 1971 and made it possible among other things to build a resident scientist cabin near the Lakeside Laboratory and winterize cabins 25, 27, 29, and D-1 during 1972-73. Student housing was overcrowded. Two winterized quadruplexes were built on the hilltop during 1974-75. A new Director's cottage, fully winterized was completed in June 1974. The dining hall built in 1930 was outmoded and replaced by a new building in time for the 1976 summer session at a cost of $347,000 from private funds. Faculty cabin 46 was renovated in 1975 and all others scheduled for renovation soon thereafter.

Student enrollment varied considerably over the years from 107 in 1940 to lows of 51 in 1943, 75 in 1954, and 86 in 1972 to highs of 137 in 1949, 133 in 1961, and 136 in 1975. Some of the enrollment trends are tied to availability of grant-in-aid support to students. The National Science Foundation provided modest but steady support for students at the Station from $6,000 for 26 students in 1955 to $10,350 for 29 students in 1971. NSF discontinued all support and this had catastrophic consequences in 1972. During 1973, 1974, and 1975 we had mixed sources of funding for students including the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and the Rockefeller and Scaife Foundations for a total of $26,650 to $34,600.

Courses and Faculty

All courses taught at the Station, the faculty and the years offered are given in Table I. Some courses have had high stability over time and some have been quite variable. It is important to have the same person teach a given course over a period of several years and thereby become thoroughly familiar with the region. There is also stimulus to be gained by having different people teach courses in alternate years.


The Wilson Society held its national meeting at Douglas Lake in 1952 and again in 1974. A symposium on biophysical ecology was held at the Station in August 1973 and resulted in a book (D.M. Gates and R. B. Schmerl, eds., Perspectives of Biophysical Ecology, Springer-Verlag). The National Science Board, the policy board for the National Science Foundation, and the NSF administration met at the Station in 1974. In August 1975 an Ecology-Meteorology Workshop sponsored by DOE was held and the Executive Committee of the American Institute of Biological Sciences met at the Station.


During the years 1940-75 a total of more than 917 papers were published from research done at the Station. Almost all research at the Station was done only in warmer months until 1972 when a new, year-round research program was begun. A series of large grants from the National Science foundation program "Research Applied to National Needs" enabled the development of a resident research staff at the Station including a full-time resident limnologist Dr. John E. Gannon and a support staff of four to six. NSF, under their facilities support program established a resident technician-biologist responsible for equipment and supplies on a year-round basis.

This new research program concentrated upon northern Michigan environmental programs, in particular, the study of water quality/land use relationships. Scientists from the School of Natural Resources and the Institute of Social Research participated with the Station on this effort. There was extensive interaction with northern Michigan Lake associations and resource management agencies. Great Lakes research by the resident staff was carried out through financial support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Park Service funded several biological surveys in the new Sleeping Bear and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshores.

The University of Michigan, An Encyclopedic Survey Supplement, pages 1-4

History of the University of Michigan

Biological Station