McMaster University recognizes that the University and surrounding Hamilton area, including their nature spaces, are situated on traditional territories shared between the Haudenosaunee confederacy and Anishnaabe nations. These lands are protected by the Dish with One Spoon Wampum belt. The wampum uses the symbolism of a dish to represent the territory, and one spoon to represent that the people are to share the resources of the land and only take what they need.
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McMaster Forest provides endless research opportunities. Primary researchers include students and professors from the McMaster Department of Biology, and members of The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club.

Each year, McMaster Forest is the site of several undergraduate and graduate research projects. Past and current projects include; a natural selection study of garlic mustard, a tracing of the history of the land, a study of hawthorn on the property, bee monitoring, and more.

Ongoing Research Projects

Smithsonian Dynamic Tree Plot

In 2013, a team from McMasters Department of Biology led by Dr. Susan Dudley and Dr. Chad Harvey, established a Smithsonian Dynamic Tree Plot to measure forest health over time.
The teams of students and volunteers used equipment generously lent by Civil Engineering to precisely impose a grid onto the property.  The grid is a 500m X 400m square, with stakes every 20m (to create 20m x 20m quadrats).

By identifying, locating, and measuring every tree in the forest, the team was able to establish a baseline and track how the forest changes over time.  This data can be used to better understand invasive species, species at risk, forest growth, and the local effects of climate change.

Over 22, 000 trees have been surveyed to date.

Bird Audio Recorders

As part of their bird study projects, The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, has multiple bird audio recorders placed around the property. The bird audio recorders serve to record bird species diversity and presence on the property.

Bobolink and Meadowlark Solar Panel Audio Playback

In the tallgrass prairie and adjacent old field meadow, there are two sets of solar panel powered audio playback devices that play the calls of Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark.

Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark are two threatened species at risk ground nesting grassland birds. The project is led by Dr. Jim Quinn, from McMaster’s Department of Biology and aims to encourage Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark to nest at McMaster Forests grasslands.

Deer Exclosure Fencing

Undergraduate and graduate researchers from Dr. Susan Dudley’s lab, from McMasters Biology Department are conducting a study on the effects of deer browsing on sapling growth in forests. Several deer exclosure fences are set up in the forest in an effort to monitor and compare sapling growth with and without deer browsing.

Blue Bird Boxes

Within the tallgrass prairie and adjacent old field, you may spot several blue bird boxes. This is a project led by The Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, and helps to encourage blue birds to nest on the property. Most blue bird hatchlings are tagged and nesting pairs are recorded and monitored. There are currently 7 sets of two blue bird boxes located in the area.

Bee Monitoring

It’s a buzzin’! Each year since 2014 undergraduate and graduate students from Dr. Susan Dudley’s lab, from McMasters Biology Department survey the bee populations at McMaster Forest using a variety of methods, including pan traps, vane traps, and sweep netting. This project is expanding the current bee research in Hamilton and Ontario.

Research Works