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The Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

A Century of Discovering the Nature of Nature

Michael J. Lannoo

Publication Year: 2012

Imagine a place dedicated to the long-term study of nature in nature, a permanent biological field station, a teaching and research laboratory that promotes complete immersion in the natural world. Lakeside Laboratory, founded on the shore of Lake Okoboji in northwestern Iowa in 1909, is just such a place. In this remarkable and insightful book, Michael Lannoo sets the story of Lakeside Lab within the larger story of the primacy of fieldwork, the emergence of conservation biology, and the ability of field stations to address such growing problems as pollution, disease, habitat loss, invasive species, and climate change.
At the intersection of major ecosystems with distinct plant and animal communities and surrounded by what, ironically, may be the most intensely cultivated landscape on earth, Lakeside has a long history of rubber-boot biologists saturated in the spirit that grounds the new discipline of conservation biology, and Lannoo brings this history to life with his descriptions of the people and ideas that shaped it. Lakeside’s continuing commitment to bringing the laboratory to the field rather than bringing the field to the lab has supported a focus on mammalogy, ornithology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate biology, parasitology, limnology, and algology, subjects rarely taught now on university campuses but crucial to the planet’s health.

Today’s huge array of environmental problems can best be solved by people who have learned about nature within nature at a place with a long history of research and observation, people who thoroughly understand and appreciate nature’s cogs and wheels. Lakeside Lab and biological research stations like it have never been more relevant to science and to society at large than they are today. Michael Lannoo convinces us that while Lakeside’s past is commendable, its future, grounded in ecological principles, will help shape a more sustainable society. 

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Frontispiece, Quotes

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pp. 2-9


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pp. 10-13

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The Spirit

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pp. 1-3

What is it about these old stone labs? Massive glacial erratics arranged using some form of lost art to frame the narrow doors and large banks of windows and to support...

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Something Heavy in the Midwestern Air

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pp. 4-7

During the last quarter or so of the nineteenth century, the upper Midwest produced some of the world’s best naturalists cum ecologists. This was at the same...

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An Opportunity of Magnifi cent Possibilities

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pp. 8-10

In 1909 when Thomas Huston Macbride founded the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, the United States was on the brink of becoming great. Teddy Roosevelt had been...

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A Brief History of Field Stations

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pp. 11-13

Biological fied stations are generally land-based operations with an infrastructure that supports teaching and/or research programs. Field stations originated...

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The Factors of Ecology Are All Here

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pp. 14-19

Thomas Macbride (1909, reprinted in Lannoo 1996, 27) wanted a field station where students could study nature in nature. For his site, he chose Okoboji...

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The Iowa Lakeside Laboratory as a Student Sees It

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pp. 20-22

Okoboji—“Place of Rest. ” What! A school? The best school ever conducted was held beneath the plane trees where the students walked and talked with the master...

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The Victorians, 1909–1932

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pp. 23-40

Soon after W. L. Hinds purchased the E. B. Smith acreage on January 11, 1909, the State University of Iowa (SUI, later the University of Iowa) printed and distributed...

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Hard Times and Stone Labs, 1932–1947

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pp. 41-46

In 1932 with the founders deceased or having otherwise moved on, the Lakeside Laboratory Association, consisting of faculty and supporters, reorganized, amended...

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Classical State Universities versus Land-grant Institutions

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pp. 47-48

As the cultura a of modern universities blend to produce a more homogeneous experience for all, it is easy to forget that there was once a deep division at the collegiate level between the teaching of basic knowledge and instruction in technical knowhow...

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A Regents Institution, 1947–2007

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pp. 49-66

After war world II two events changed the course of Lakeside, giving it both breadth and power. The first was a reorganization of the administrative structure...

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The Friends of Lakeside Lab

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pp. 67-69

In December 1991 the three Regents University presidents recommended that the research and education programs at Iowa Lakeside Lab be discontinued. This recommendation...

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A Regents Resource Center, 2007–Present

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pp. 70-74

While most of the traditions inherited from the early days or originating in the past half century have carried through to today, several important administrative changes occurred recently to produce the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory that celebrated its centennial...

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Resurrecting Natural History

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pp. 75-80

As lakeside contemplates its future, it only needs to look for guidance into its past. The spirit of natural history has always been the strength of both the teaching and the research programs at the Station. And a quick look at the history of course...

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pp. 81-82

So many people at Lakeside have influenced me that it is impractical to list them here, so instead I offer my grateful thanks (you know who you are). As for this project, Chet Rzonca...


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pp. 83-92


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pp. 93-94


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pp. 95-98

Further Reading

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pp. 99-100

Back Cover

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p. 101-101

E-ISBN-13: 9781609381394
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609381219

Page Count: 108
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Iowa Lakeside Laboratory -- History.
  • Ecology -- Research -- Iowa -- History.
  • Natural history -- Research -- Iowa -- History.
  • Conservation biology -- Research -- Iowa -- History.
  • Nature study -- Iowa -- History.
  • Naturalists -- Iowa -- Biography.
  • Iowa Lakeside Laboratory -- Biography.
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