Reelfoot Lake Environmental Field Station

Research Opportunities Directions Links

About Us

Reelfoot Lake Environmental Field Station (RLEFS) is located in Samburg, TN and is operated through the College of Engineering and Natural Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Martin. Its proximity to Reelfoot Lake (the state's largest natural lake) and surrounding wetland and upland habitats allows a variety of unique teaching, research, and outreach opportunities. The shallow nature of the lake and its ill-defined shoreline result in extensive areas of submerged and emergent vegetation as well as periodically and permanently flooded forested habitats. The bluffs along the eastern portion of the Reelfoot Lake watershed include upland terrestrial habitat and several small, higher-gradient streams. The field station is a ten-fifteen minute drive from the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Isom National Wildlife Refuge, and the Mississippi River.

Of geological significance, Reelfoot Lake had a cataclysmic birth due to the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12, filled from the ensuring floodwaters of the Mississippi River, and still retains the shape of ancient river meander oxbows. Even today, most of the silt filling in the basins is of Pleistocene glacial origin from the surrounding loess hills that still entomb mastodon remains.

The facilities include housing accommodations for 22 people, two laboratories, and basic laboratory and field equipment. RLEFS regularly offers summer college courses including, Aquatic Macroinvertebrates, Field Ornithology, Freshwater Algae, Aquatic Plants, and Field Herpetology. Professional and K-12 workshops are also periodically offered.

Reelfoot Lake Environmental Field Station
Dr. Tom Blanchard, Director
254 Second Avenue
The University of Tennessee at Martin
Samburg, TN 38254