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Research and Academic use at Lacawac

Student reading data in field course study at Lacawac

Lake study on Lake Lacawac

Teaching space at Lacawac.

Lacawac is a center for research on important contemporary environmental issues and threats

Lacawac is a GLEON ecological research site.

In 1955, Dr. Ruth Patrick, then head of the limnology department at The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, visited the pristine glacial lake at Lacawac and recognized its research potential. Shortly thereafter, she began studying diatoms in the lake and influenced her colleagues to work at Lacawac.

 One of those colleagues was Dr. Clyde Goulden, who began studying Lake Lacawac in the early 1960s and continued to work on the lake through 1995. Research efforts began at the lake, but scientists were also interested in the surrounding woodlands and during the 1960s a small but growing number of scientific publications came from field work at Lacawac.

Through the early years no institutions formed an official affiliation with Lacawac, but researchers from schools such as The University of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Lehigh University, Muhlenburg, Franklin and Marshall, Temple,  Scranton and Marywood College.

Laboratory Space

     In the early days of research, Lacawac's existing buildings did not lend themselves to laboratory work. Hence, in the late 1960s , the academy set up a trailer near the Lodge to provide laboratory space for researchers. That trailer continues to be used today for some research activities as it contains very specialized equipment, 

      Lydia Coulter, a former board member, suggested that research and class space could be provided in the century-old Carriage House. With the help of the US Navy Seabees, Friends of Lacawac and other volunteers, the Sanctuary constructed two new research spaces on the second floor, including an air-conditioned computer room and a wet-capacity classroom/laboratory. Two large walk-in climate-controlled chambers were installed on the ground floor for use in experiments on aquatic organisms.

Living Classroom

      The potential to use Lacawac as a living classroom was realized in the 1960s, when Pennsylvania State University offered two courses under the direction of Dr. Matt Brennan. The courses were geared for teachers. In 1971, the University of Pennsylvania offered a six-week ecological field methods course taught by Dr. Goulden and two other scientists from the Academy: Drs. Frank Gill and John Hendrickson. During the 1970s, Dr Susan Joshi of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science conducted several high-quality summer courses at Lacawac. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Carl Oplinger, of Muhlenburg College, taught part of his ecology course at Lacawac. In 1976, Wilkes College conducted a two-week course in animal behavior.

Academic Partners

       While the Academy of Natural Science was a major user of Lacawac through the 1970s, it was unable to maintain a well-funded research presence. In 1986, Dr. Goulden invited Dr. Craig Williamson, a faculty member at Lehigh University, to visit Lacawac. Dr. Williamson recognized the tremendous potential of Lacawac as a venue of research and education in aquatic ecology.

In October 1986, a group of two dozen scientists met at Lacawac to discuss interests in lake research, the first of a series of annual fall research meetings that continue to this day. Dr. Williamson's visits would eventually grow to form the first formal relationship between Lacawac and and academic institution. In October 1987, the Lacawac Board and Lehigh scientists and administrators met to exchange priorities and interests, and agreed upon a relationship in which Lehigh University provided funding, faculty and students, and Lacawac provided the facility and 'in kind' costs.

     The first summer undergraduate student internship was instituted in 1988, and has been continuous since. The interns live at Lacawac, along with graduate students and faculty. The core of the research program centers around characterising three lakes: one oligotropic, one mesotropic and one eutrophic.

The Pocono Comparative Lakes Program (PCLP) was born with Craig Williamson as its first director. The four goals of the program were undergraduate student instruction, graduate student research training, sophisticated research in aquatic ecology, and outreach to scientists at other institutions. The program received grant funding from sources such as the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Sordoni Foundation and the Scranton Area Foundation.

    In the early 1990s, Lehigh led a consortium that gained funding for "The Pocono Comparative Lakes Study" - a significant regional project. It also installed a weather station at the lake to gather information about precipitation, air temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity and, crucially, solar radiation. The array of sensors was later expanded to include barometric pressure, water temperature and water level.This database is available on line too all researchers and investigators.

On Shore

     Research has not been limited to the lake at Lacawac. Significant research has been conducted in surrounding swamps, woods, grasslands and rocky ledge environments. An example is the work of Dr. Dan Townsend of the University of Scranton. In 1994 and 1995, Dr. Townsend led a team of volunteers, including the Ledgedale Hunting Club, the Navy Seabees and the Friends of Lacawac, in the construction of two sizable deer exclosures. The experiment is designed to compare relative growth of forest floor plants subjected to or protected from deer browse. Funded by the Pennsylvania Wild Resources Conservation Fund, the research is primarily conducted by undergraduate students working with Dr. Townsend. These exclosures are still maintained and may be visited and viewed by the public.

For the Record

     Research conducted at Lacawac has been reported in a broad spectrum of refereed scientific journals over the years. As of 2010 we have more than 100 published papers that use or cite Lacawac and at least 70 that were conducted here on site.  With future foundation funding we hope to dgitize, index and publish all of those scientific documents here on this site.

Member - Organization of Biological Field Stations - OBFS

Member - Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network - GLEON

We thank PME for their kind donation of a miniDOT dissolved oxygen temperature logger in 2013. The miniDOT is now part of our lake monitoring station and the data are available upon request (lesley.knoll@lacawac.org).

Our thanks to Turner Designs, Inc. for their 2011 donation of an Aquafluor® field fluorometer for use by researchers working out of Lacawac BFS in measuring colored DOM in surface waters. www.turnerdesigns.com/donations