Welcome to the Home Page of the

Hope College Biology Nature Preserve


Administered by the Department of Biology, Hope College maintains a 55-acre nature preserve approximately five miles from the main campus.  Located approximately 1/4 mile from the Lake Michigan Shoreline in Laketown Township, Allegan County, the preserve is primarily dominated by a "Mesic Northern Forest" (Michigan Natural Features Inventory) or "Northern Hardwoods" community type.

The students and faculty of the Department of Biology take very seriously our responsibility to protect and manage the property wisely, both for the sake of the college's academic program and because even such small parcels of natural habitat are important repositories of biological diversity.  Our current lists for the property (see below) include over 40 species of plants, 14 species of mammals, 40 species of birds, and hundreds of species of arthropods, and the lists grow yearly as we explore the property more fully.  It is clear that this property already suffers from many threats (see below), and that these will become more severe as suburban development increasingly isolates the site from larger parcels of natural habitat in the future.  One of our most important long-term goals is to use the nature preserve to understand how such small parcels of land can best be managed for the maintenance of their biological diversity and the ecosystem services they provide.

Visitation and Use Policy:  The primary use of the nature preserve property is for teaching and research by Hope College students and faculty.  Several hundred Hope College students use the site for class projects every year, and several faculty members maintain long-term research projects that are sensitive to disturbance.  As such, other uses such as hunting, camping, horseback riding, off-road vehicle use, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing are incompatible and are strictly prohibited.  Similarly, any collecting of plants, timber (previously fallen or otherwise) or animals (including insects) is strictly forbidden.  Violators of these policies have been and will continue to be prosecuted for trespassing.

Birdwatching and other non-destructive nature study by persons other than Hope College faculty and students is permitted, however, with the written permission of the biology department.  Any dogs accompanying visitors to the preserve must be on a leash.  Persons interested in access to the property for such purposes should contact Dr. K. Greg Murray at (616) 395-7716, or via email (gmurray@hope.edu).

  Aerial photograph of the preserve 

Species Lists: Click on the links below for lists of species known to occur on the Hope College Biology Nature Preserve.  Other species are undoubtedly present as well, and will be added to these lists as they are catalogued.  Clicking on species names highlighted in blue will take you to more detailed information about the species on the property.

Trees Amphibians
Shrubs Reptiles
Herbs and non-vascular plants Mammals
Invertebrates (insects, mollusks, annelids, etc.) Birds

Threats: Because of its small size, relative isolation from larger parcels of natural habitat, and close proximity to human dwellings, the nature preserve property faces a number of threats.  Managing (and, hopefully, reducing) the impacts of these threats on the preserve's biological diversity and the normal functioning of its communities is one of our major long-term goals.  Clicking on any of the categories below will take you to specific information on those threats and what we're trying to do to minimize them.

Invasive plants Timber salvaging
Horses Human disturbance
Other domestic animals