Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 46:56–57; 2014


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Iowa Lakeside Laboratory (a.k.a. Lakeside Lab) is one of several biological field stations that were established in the early 1900s and that have active educational and research programs today. Michael Lannoo’s account of the history of Lakeside Lab was initiated at the centennial celebration of the lab in 2009. Lannoo’s own connection with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory began as a student at Iowa State University and continues today as a member of the Lakeside Lab summer faculty and as Associate Director of Academics and Research. In his book, Lannoo describes field stations, and Lakeside Lab in particular, as educational institutions that will produce students and knowledge that will be influential in solving the environmental problems that have been caused by humans. This is a bold suggestion, but one that Lannoo convincingly addresses.

The book contains 13 chapters and four appendices. Most chapters are 2–6 pages in length, but two are longer 18-page chapters. It is nicely illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs. In the first and last chapters, Lannoo presents his argument and philosophical perspective on the importance of natural history and biological field stations for addressing the decline in biodiversity. The book begins with a contextual description of the nature of biology in the 1900s, with information about naturalists such as Aldo Leopold, Paul Errington, Edward Ricketts, and Adolph and Olaus Murie. Most of these naturalists had roots in or connections to the Midwest; several of the biological field stations that began at that time still persist today, including Lake Itasca (University of Minnesota), Douglas Lake (University of Michigan), and Iowa Lakeside Lab (state universities of Iowa). A brief history of biological field stations sets Lakeside Lab in perspective with similar field stations throughout the world. For this section, Lannoo draws on several articles that have appeared in BioScience, especially those written by Wyman et al. (2009), Hodder (2009) and Janovy and Major (2009), as well as earlier accounts of Lakeside Lab’s history by Zieglowsky (1985) and by Richard Bovbjerg and colleagues in two unpublished reports in 1974 and 1988.