About the Cornell Biological Field Station

Our mission

To conduct research in fisheries and aquatic ecology in New York State with a focus on Oneida Lake, the Great Lakes and other NYS inland lakes. To support the educational, outreach and extension programs of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment (DNRE), the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell University.


Cornell alumnus Charles S. Brown bequeathed his Shackelton Point property to the University upon his death. In 1955, Brown’s wife, Iola Warrior Brown, turned the property over to Cornell.  Professor Gustav Swanson, an ornithologist and head of Cornell’s Department of Conservation, proposed that the unique property at Shackelton Point be de­veloped as a biological field station, with a resident director and a vessel for lake sampling.


With over six decades of research on Oneida Lake, New York State’s largest interior lake has produced a unique long-term ecosystem study, begun by John Forney in 1956, which has become a model for other fresh water lakes around the world. Also unique is the continuous long-term collaboration and support of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. 

In more recent years, national and international collaborations on the Great Lakes have resulted in a more in-depth understanding of those lakes’ food webs and the effects of invasive species.

Oneida Lake profile

Scientists from Cornell and Syracuse Universities have investigated Oneida Lake's ecology since the early 1900s and their research has amassed a notable reservoir of knowledge and understanding. Read full Oneida Lake Profile.

Oneida Lake: Long-term Dynamics of a Managed Ecosystem and Its Fishery

Studies on the fish populations, fisheries, and limnology of Oneida Lake, NY started in the late 1950s at the Cornell University Biological Field Station. Early research concentrated on Walleye, Yellow Perch, and their interactions but was soon expanded to include interactions with the lake ecosystem, an early example of the ecosystem approach. Research on Oneida Lake has continued for 60 years and the resulting data series that couples fish ecology and limnology is one of the best available anywhere.

In this book, collaborators worldwide have contributed insights into the functioning of the lake’s ecology and fisheries, and by extension to the functioning of similar freshwater lakes elsewhere.  The book is divided in three sections. The first set of chapters provides an historical and landscape context to the studies, the second set analyzes the long-term data, and the third set uses those data in modeling analyses.