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Research and Education

A living laboratory

Teaching and research are essential activities at the Gault Nature Reserve. The first scientific studies at the site date back to 1859. Famous scientists such as Sir John W. Dawson, T. Sterry Hunt and Brother Marie-Victorin have explored the vast forests of Mont St. Hilaire. Today there are over 400 scientific articles, nearly 100 graduate and postgraduate theses, more than 50 reports and approximately 30 chapters or books that have focused on Mont St. Hilaire.

Mont St. Hilaire has a worldwide reputation for the diversity of its minerals as well as its flora and fauna. The mountain is also covered by an old-growth forest that has never been cut since colonization.

The special nature of the mountain, its rich scientific history, its proximity to Montreal, its accommodations and its teaching and research facilities make it an exceptional venue for academic and scientific activities.

Current research projects

The Gault Nature Reserve provides a living laboratory for university students. Field studies are a rewarding experience in the academic process and an essential complement to the classroom.

As climate warms, mice morph

Virginie Millien, PhD
McGill University
Start date: 2007
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

Ecological and evolutionary response of phytoplankton to rising CO2

Étienne Low-Decarie, PhD
Supervisor: Prof. Gregor Fussmann McGill University
Start date: 2012
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

Interactive impacts of global change on freshwater plankton: implications for lake food web structure and function

Marie-Pier Hébert, PhD candidate
Supervisor: Prof. Gregor Fussmann
McGill University
Start date: 2016
Research area: Gault Nature Reserve

Bibliography of past research

Courses at the Reserve

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

Biodiversity Science

Biodiversity Science

BIO860X — 3

Biology (Sci): Concepts, methods and questions related to the different aspects of biodiversity science, including discovering biodiversity; biodiversity change and ecosystem services; management and adaptation to biodiversity changes.

Field Studies-Physical Geog

GEOG 495 — 3

Geography: Field research projects in physical geography. Held locally in Monteregian or Eastern Township regions. The course is organised around field projects designed to formulate and test scientific hypotheses in a physical geography discipline. May Summer session.

Monteregian Flora

BIOL 240 — 3

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

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 row boat, pontoon and other facilities:

Réserve naturelle Gault - Étudiants

An experimental dock used for the study of phytoplankton communities, it provides a link between observational field studies and controlled laboratory experiments. It can contain up to 32 replicas (mesocosms) enabling manipulation of environmental conditions without adverse impacts to the natural ecosystem.

Réserve naturelle Gault - Étudiants

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.

Réserve naturelle Gault - Recherche

This lab 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 Lake Hertel.

Réserve naturelle Gault - Ruisseau

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 the information.


This lab was once the old Stearn Lithological Library, used to preserve rock samples collected by McGill University researchers. Marc-André Langlois, infrastructure manager for the Gault Nature Reserve initiated and supervised the conversion of this space into a teaching lab.



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