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Department of Biology
258 Science Building
Cheney, WA 99004
phone: 509.359.2339

Turnbull Laboratory for Ecological Studies

Turnbull Laboratory for Ecological Studies (TLES) is an ecological field station located on the 15,500-acre Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. Located in the heart of Eastern Washington's channeled scablands, TLES is a research and educational facility established in 1976 as a cooperative effort between Eastern Washington University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Its goal is to further our understanding of the biological processes shaping populations, ecological communities, and ecosystems of the Inland Northwest.
  • It offers educators a unique opportunity to explore the ecology of the channeled scablands within the boundaries of the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
  • The facility is a 4600 sq. ft. building which includes an eighteen-student capacity classroom, three research laboratories, a library, animal holding facilities and offices.
  • Both educators and researchers may use TLES facilities. The researcher should make a brief description of the project to be carried out as well as describe space, supplies, and equipment needed. Researchers will also be required to obtain a sampling permit from Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

Turnbull        Turnbull Classroom

For further information, contact Dr. Camille McNeely, 509.359.7049,,Dr. Suzan Schwab, 509.359.4727, or Dr. Krisztian Magori, 509.359.2868,

For information about Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, contact the refuge office at 509.235.4723

Directions to Turnbull NWR
Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is approximately a 40-minute drive from Spokane, Washington. From Spokane, take I-90 west to the Cheney/Four Lakes Exit (exit 270). This will put you on Highway 904, which continues approximately 5 miles into the city of Cheney, home of the Eastern Washington University.

When you get to Cheney continue west through 3 traffic lights. After you pass the third light proceed for one half mile to Cheney-Plaza Road. There, on your left you will see a brown and white sign that reads "Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge 4.5 miles." Make the left turn on to Cheney-Plaza Road and drive south for 2.5 miles where you will come to a gated entrance with a sign "Turnbull Laboratory for Ecological Studies, Eastern Washington University." Turn left into the entrance and proceed to the parking area.

Turnbull Map

Information on The Channeled Scablands
The unusual belt of channeled scablands that crosses the Palouse in Southeastern Washington was formed by a series of late Pleistocene floods resulting from the abrupt drainage of Lake Missoula.

The channeled scablands biome includes numerous wetlands, ephemeral ponds and lakes surrounded by Pinus ponderosa forest and savannah. Lakes and ponds in the region are largely confined to coulees formed during the late Pleistocene floods. Because the bedrock is relatively impermeable, spring flooding occurs regularly, resulting in the formation of temporary bodies of water and recharging of the permanent lakes and ponds.

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