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Research and Education

A living laboratory

The Gault Nature Reserve provides a living laboratory for university students.

Field learning is a rewarding experience within the academic journey, serving as a necessary complement to the classroom and laboratory.

Research projects

Every year, numerous scientists explore the forests of Mont Saint-Hilaire and use our laboratories.

Impacts of white-tailed deer browsing on white trillium

Long-term project of the Gault Nature Reserve

Affiliation: McGill University
Start date: 2006
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

As climate warms, mice morph

Researcher: Prof. Virginie Millien

Affiliation: McGill University
Start date: 2007
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

Finding Common Ground: How Hikers Influence White-Tailed Deer Space-Use Patterns in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Frédérique Truchon, M.Sc.

Supervisors: Prof. Virginie Millien and Prof. Martin-Hugues Saint-Laurent
Affiliation: McGill University and Université du Québec à Rimouski
Start date: 2018
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

Field courses

Teaching thrives at the Gault Nature Reserve. Classes are lively and students can acquire practical and theoretical skills in various fields of study.

Ecology and Behaviour

Ecology and Behaviour

BIOL 331 — 3

Biology (Sci): Field course in methods of sampling natural populations.Testing hypotheses in nature.

Physical Geography

GEOG 495 — 3

Geography (Sci): Field research projects in physical geography.

Monteregian Flora

BIOL 240 — 3

Biology (Sci): Field studies of ferns, fern allies, conifers, and flowering plants; the use of keys for plant identification.


The first scientific studies on Mont Saint-Hilaire date back to 1859, with pioneers such as Sir John W. Dawson, T. Sterry Hunt, and Brother Marie-Victorin exploring its vast forests.

Complete bibliography

The wealth of studies on Mont Saint-Hilaire is reflected in over 400 scientific articles, nearly 100 master's and doctoral theses, more than 50 reports, and approximately 30 chapters or books dedicated to its exploration.

Research equipment

The Gault Nature Reserve has a lot to offer to researchers and students. In addition to our wet lab and our classroom, you can also use our rowboat, pontoon, and the following facilities :

Four researchers are manipulating scientific equipment on the Lac Hertel mesocosms

Lac Hertel Mesocosms

An experimental dock used to study phytoplankton communities links observational field studies and controlled laboratory experiments. It can contain up to 32 replicates (mesocosms), enabling environmental conditions manipulation without adverse impacts on the natural ecosystem.

A glass dome with a door


Experimental pond (6.5 m in diameter and 2 m deep) covered by a geodesic dome for environmental control. This infrastructure enhances the ecological realism of our experiments while retaining very high levels of control and replication.

A wooden laboratory is situated along a stream in a forest in winter.

Hydrology lab

This laboratory was the old chlorination station for the RIEVR (Régie Intermunicipale de l'Eau de la Vallée du Richelieu). It provides direct access to water from Lac Hertel.

Two people are fixing equipment in a white box wearing warm clothing

Weather stations

The Gault Nature Reserve contains a network of autonomous weather stations that continuously monitor environmental conditions in the forest ecosystem. These weather stations are linked via radio to a central server that records and stores the information.

A laboratory interior featuring lab benches and stools

Stearn teaching laboratory

This laboratory was once the old Stearn Lithological Library, used to preserve rock samples collected by McGill University researchers.Today this space is a teaching lab.

Summer work experience

The Gault Nature Reserve hosts McGill University students every summer for a paid fieldwork experience. This opportunity allows them to cultivate skills and gain diverse knowledge in conservation, research, natural habitat management, and customer service.

Niamh Stafford

Intern in 2023

When asked to describe her internship experience in one word, Niamh answered:

"Productive. Our tasks were different daily, and we accomplished so much in so little time. It's been incredibly rewarding to be a part of this team and see our work's impact."

Egor Katkov


Nature, human connection and science: these are the words Egor Katkov used to describe his internship at McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve.

Ellen Bidulka


I learned that I really love working in conservation."

If you want to inspire future scientists and help other students have a rewarding experience, you can support the Gault Nature Reserve.



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