Biological Field Station

BFS Lake View
Dan Stich standing in an electrofishing boat.

News & Events

In 2022, Otsego Lake experienced cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Bloom conditions from abundant growth of the cyanobacteria Microcystis aeruginosa. This cyanobacteria can produce algal toxins known as Microcystins, and so is a public health concern.

To answer questions and concerns from the Otsego Lake community, we are providing links to information about HABs from the Department of Environmental Conservation and Department of Health. Shoreline conditions can change quickly. Avoid contact with cloudy or discolored water and surface scums. Pets are especially vulnerable. Water supply questions are addressed on the NYS Dept. of Health Harmful Algal Bloom Information Page. Additional information on the conditions in Otsego Lake will be included as the summer progresses.

From the DEC:
"Avoid contact with HABs. HABs in large lakes or rivers may be limited to specific shorelines or confined bays. Portions of any of these waterbodies may be clear and fully support recreational uses.

The public should use the information on the NYS DEC Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) Notifications Page to help them make informed decisions about where and when to recreate, particularly outside of designated swimming areas. Swimmers and recreational users should remember that health and safety cannot be assured outside of designated swimming areas - for more swimming information, visit DEC's swimming webpage."

2023 sample collection will focus on developing a better understanding of the variation in temperature, nutrients, algal and cyanobacterial abundance, and toxin concentration along depth gradients in Otsego Lake's north end and Hyde Bay, which are subject to prevailing winds in summer. A combination of open water and shoreline sampling will be conducted as summarized below. Microcystis aeruginosa was the main cyanobacteria contributing to Otsego Lake's 2022 Harmful Algal Bloom conditions (CyanoHABs) and is the reason behind this intensive research and monitoring effort. In addition to the work described below, BFS has increased monitoring of the streams, NYS DEC is conducting lake and watershed sampling, and the Otsego Lake Association will be sampling as part of the NYS Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program. A map showing the sample locations will be posted after the June 1st sampling event.

In 2022, we learned that toxin concentrations were at a level of concern anytime there were visible cyanoHAB accumulations at the water surface or along the shoreline. Individual lake users MUST use caution and assess the conditions prior to engaging in lake activities. Conditions change quickly. That said, at this time of year (late May - early June) large amounts of pollen can be seen on the lake surface - we have confirmed that Microcystis is not currently part of these pollen masses.

Open Water Sampling

10-12 sites will be included for 2023. Eight sites are located along two main transects; A North-South transect in the North End (sites 5EC, 6C, 7C) and an West-East transect mid-lake into Hyde Bay (5W, 5E, 5EC, 5E, 5HB). The two remaining sites are near the mid-lake Buoy (4C) and South End off Fairy Springs (1C). 

Open water collection sites will be visited every other week beginning June 1st, with water quality measurements and water samples taken from the surface to bottom at each site. Samples collected at open water sites will be analyzed for nitrogen compounds, total phosphorus, total microcystins, and measurements of basic water quality parameters will be recorded from surface to bottom (temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, Sp. Conductance). Equipment has been ordered that will also allow for estimates of algal community composition (based on pigments) and colony counts.

Shoreline Water Sampling

Shoreline stations will be sampled at least weekly, based on Microcystis abundance. Shoreline stations will include those sampled in 2022, with the addition of a site at the Lakefront, west of the Village docks. These samples will be analyzed for Total Microcystins and results posted on the Biological Field Station website.  We are expecting delivery of the CAAS Cube (automated cyanotoxin analysis system) in late June. In the interim, total microcystins can be processed manually. 

    For More Information

    Lake Management Graduate Program

    Based at the Biological Field Station, SUNY Oneonta's Lake Management graduate program trains students to become effective water resource management professionals. Our innovative program blends scientific training in aquatic biology, limnology and quantitative skills with professional training in project design, management, and reporting in a real-life setting, working with lake stakeholders directly or with established lake management professionals. For program requirements and application materials, visit SUNY Oneonta's Biology Department Graduate Programs page

    About the Field Station

    The Biological Field Station is a facility of SUNY Oneonta consisting of 2,600 acres with 12 major buildings that house laboratories, classrooms, conference spaces, offices and equipment for research support.

    The Main Laboratory serves as a focus for analytical procedures essential for research activities in both aquatic and terrestrial environments. There is a large greenhouse, aquarium room, a unique multipurpose laboratory, four analytical laboratories, offices and conference spaces creating a compact and versatile research complex. Its location on Otsego Lake just north of the Farmer’s Museum in Cooperstown, NY, at the headwaters of the Susquehanna River is uniquely situated, and has the capacity to provide excellent opportunities for field studies by advanced undergraduate and graduate students.

    The Thayer Farm, with access to the north end of Otsego Lake, contains the Hop House with three classrooms/laboratories, and office and conference spaces. The Upland Interpretive Center provides access to the farm and Rum Hill trails, maintains curated collections, serves as a trailhead shelter and includes a conference center/classroom, offices and additional space for research support. There is also a residential building, workshop, equipment bays and storage including space for more than 12 powerboats. The boathouse contains workspace, a laboratory/classroom, offices and a diving locker.

    A new laboratory dedicated primarily to ornithology is located above Moe Pond on the Upper Research Site, the oldest of our research areas, serving since 1967. Greenwoods Conservancy and Cranberry Bog and its watershed are our most remote areas with resident populations of fisher and otter, endangered plants with few nuisance exotics present. A conference center/classroom, wet laboratory and residence provide excellent summer access.

    Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary, at the north end of Otsego Lake, has historically been open to the public with trails and raised walkways; the boardwalk is currently closed to the public until further notice, as major repairs are needed. Funding for this work has been secured through a combination of generous donations, including a match by the Scriven Foundation, and a successful collaborative grant application with the Otsego County Conservation Association. Work is anticipated in 2022.


    Main Laboratory
    5838 State Hwy 80
    Cooperstown, NY 13326
    Phone: 607-547-8778
    Fax: 607-547-5114

    Lakeside Farm &
    Upland Interpretive Center
    7027 State Hwy 80
    Springfield, NY
    (physical address)

    Thayer Boathouse
    7016 State Hwy 80
    Springfield, NY

    Rum Hill
    Thurston Hill Rd.
    Springfield, NY

    Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary
    7290 State Hwy 80
    Springfield, NY

    Greenwoods Conservancy
    824 Zachow Rd.
    Hartwick, NY 13348

    Upper Research Site
    Averill Rd.
    Cooperstown, NY

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