Immersion in protected natural areas is a key appeal of MLBS for both research and training. The station sits on a remote wooded ridge at an elevation of 1,160m precisely on the divide between the Atlantic and Mississippi drainage basins in the Appalachian Mountains of southwestern Virginia. The station consists of a forested reserve of 259ha on which UVA holds a renewable 50-year lease. Adjoining the station is the Jefferson National Forest, where over 40,470ha of woodland are available for study. Of this, 4,250ha adjacent to MLBS are designated as NFS Wilderness. The private Wilderness Conservancy at Mountain Lake owns another 1,012ha bordering MLBS, and welcomes our use for teaching and research. Mountain Lake itself, which is in walking distance from the station, is the only natural lake in the unglaciated Appalachians and is of great biological and geological interest. The variety of rich and diverse habitats near MLBS have provided excellent opportunities for studies in terrestrial and aquatic field biology. Mixed deciduous forests, mountain streams, successional meadows, a large natural lake, ponds, rocky ridges, sphagnum bogs, stands of red spruce, Canadian hemlock, white pine, and both disturbed and virgin habitats are all within walking distance of the station. Because the station is located on the eastern continental divide and is surrounded by strong elevational and environmental gradients, it is uniquely situated to provide abundant opportunities for observational and experimental studies on scales relevant to the ecology and evolution of many plant and animal populations.