The University of Virginia’s Mountain Lake Biological Station, located on a remote and nearly pristine mountaintop in Southwest Virginia, is the summer home to students and faculty members dedicated to understanding evolution, the social behaviors of species and changes to the natural environment.
The research facility is a mini-Academical Village with its own lawn – at 3,800 feet in elevation. Its setting is natural, and some of the housing rustic – bark-shingled cabins under the hardwood forest canopy lining a long open lawn, often semi-obscured in cool fog. There also are more modern cabins and small apartments, classrooms, an auditorium, laboratories, an herbarium, insect collections and a dining hall with an outdoor dining porch.
It’s a casual, informal environment where students come to know their professors on a first-name basis – and they come not just from UVA, but from around the country (and sometimes the world) to interact and learn together.
In the surrounding woods are numerous field sites where the budding and lifelong researchers conduct studies in ecology, population biology, evolutionary genetics, behavior and the effects of climate change on birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, fish, herbs and trees.
“The studies are designed to give us better insight into how the world around us works and what changes take place through the evolutionary process,” said the station’s director, Butch Brodie, a chaired UVA professor of biology.
Video by Mitch Powers.