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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 Saint-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 Saint-Hilaire.

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

The exceptional nature of the mountain, its rich scientific history, its proximity to Montreal, its accommodations, as well as 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.

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

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

Marie-Pier Hébert, Ph.D.

Supervisor: Professor Gregor Fussmann
Affiliation: McGill University
Start date: 2016
Research area: Lac Hertel

As climate warms, mice morph

Professor Virginie Millien

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

Bibliography of past research

Courses available

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.

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.


The Gault Nature Reserve depends on the work of the next generations to fulfill its mission. We, therefore, welcome several students at the Reserve through our internship program every summer. This internship is an opportunity for these interns to develop conservation, research, public management, and natural habitat management skills.

Savannah Bissegger O'Connor

McGill University Student
Intern in 2021

"My summer at Gault Nature Reserve was an immersive and well-rounded experience that allowed me to spend time in nature while surrounded by kind and knowledgeable people."

Egor Katkov

McGill University Student
Intern in 2014

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

McGill University Student
Intern in 2019

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 McGill University’s Gault Nature Reserve.



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