Bio 44 Students Conduct Research on the Bernard Field Station

By Nancy Herrera '15, Design Editor

The Bernard Field Station, now in its 36th year, continues to provide students the opportunity to conduct field research as part of their introductory biology classes.

Located north of Harvey Mudd College, the Bernard Field Station is a natural wildlife preserve, which is home to several endangered species, including Nevin’s Barberry and the coastal sage scrub, a native species. Said Biology Lab Instructor Ed Pearson, “This place looks mostly how California would have looked like if it hadn’t been developed.”

In July 2011, Claremont approved the division of the Bernard Field Station into four pieces bought by CGU, HMC, Pitzer and Scripps. Pitzer has promised to use its share of land to build a learning institute and to preserve the rest of its land. However, the remaining three quarters of the land are not secure. The field station’s newsletter, The BFS: Frequently asked Questions states: “HMC and CGU plan to build on the western part, and there are plans to divide and sell (to whom it is not clear) the eastern part.” As a result of a 2001 lawsuit, about 40 out of the current 85 acres of the field station are protected from development.

As of now, though, the entire field station remains open for student use. Biology 44 students have researched ant behavior and aquatic organisms; they will complete original projects relating to pollination by the end of the semester. Biology 44 student Jennifer Arias (’15) said, “I have enjoyed going to the [Bernard Field Station] because it is a chance to get out of the Claremont Colleges bubble and into a natural habitat that is peaceful and beautiful.” Pearson voiced agreement with Arias, saying that the field station provides “a unique educational opportunity for students to be able to find a place that is preserved and yet so close to a semi- urban area.”

For many students, their favorite place in the Bernard Field Station is the artificial lake, named “pHake Lake.” Students are able to row out in a boat and gather water samples to measure photosynthesis rates. Said Arias, “It was great to look at the environment in and around the lake.”

Angie Aguilar (’15) said that beyond the scientific purposes of the Bernard Field Station, she has “gained a greater appreciation for plant life.” Aguilar called her overall experience at the Bernard Field Station “amazing.”

If you want to visit the Bernard Field Station, you don’t have to be part of a class. Group tours can be arranged by contacting Interim Director Jennifer Gee at bfsfriends@earthlink.net.