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Ichthyology and physiology laboratory

Head of the Department Ph.D. (Biology) Oleg V. Karamushko
Brief History

Ichthyological work was commenced practically right after the foundation of the marine biological station in Dalnie Zelentsy Settlement. In 1936-1938 the main and the only research objective was to clarify species composition of fish met in the intertidal and subtidal zones closest to the MBS neighborhoods. In 1939-1941 ichthyologists have tackled the only problem:”Food webs and food resources of valuable commercial fish species in the Barents Sea”. The first research theme called “Food composition and diet of cod, flatfish and herring fish in the Barents Sea”. In September 1941, the staff was evacuated to Udmurtia, where scientists began to study fish and non-fish stocks of the Kama River and nearby lakes. In autumn 1942, the staff was evacuated to Tajikistan. It was assumed that the main task would be to make fisheries valuation of Pamir basins, but due to the circumstances, the study area was limited by the upper and the middle flows of Kafirnigan River, a tributary of the Amu Darya River. Since 1946, the main research theme was titled “Shifts in fish fauna in the littoral zone of the Barents Sea due to climatic changes”, and in late 1952 the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences has decided to involve employees to the development of general academic issues “Exploration of biological productivity of marine water basins and the study of their fisheries resources”. Therefore, since 1953, major studies were carried out on the multidisciplinary subject “Patterns of assemblages and migration of commercial fish in the coastal zone of the eastern Murman and its dependence on biological and hydrological processes”. In 1958 the Laboratory of ichthyology was established as independent structural unit. During this period, together with other institutes of the Academy of Sciences, a new research topic was under investigation "Biological basis for the rational use and reproduction of fish resources regarding conditions of existence”. Alongside field studies, scientists conducted research on fish under experimental conditions. In 1957 the aquaria room was opened in MMBI. Research on reproduction, nutrition and behavior of important commercial species was carried out there. Findings enhanced understanding of mechanisms of biological processes and significantly added knowledge on cause -effect relationships in the dynamics of fish populations. In the 70’s, the ichthyology laboratory staff was mainly engaged in research of aquaculture and issues of adaptation of anadromous and marine fish species under different environmental conditions. Since 1981, the intensity of marine research has significantly risen, which was associated with the tool up of the Institute with a well-equipped stern trawling vessel - RV “Dalnie Zelentsy”. Therefore scientists got the opportunity to fulfill targeted faunistic research of fish in previously inaccessible parts of the Barents Sea, the Norwegian Sea and the Kara Sea.
A huge water area was covered by expeditions during which a unique material was collected. All that provided new data on the fish fauna of the Kara Sea and other areas, especially on ichthyoplankton distribution in the Arctic region. It also became possible to verify systematics of snailfishes in the western part of the Russian Arctic, to clarify distribution area of some species. Scientists also studied a life period of Atlantic salmon in water area near Iceland, in the Norwegian and the Barents Seas. At the same time the study on adaptive possibilities of the juvenile humpback salmon introduced in the Kola Peninsula was carried out in the MMBI aquaria room along with the developing of the Atlantic salmon cultivation technology in the Eastern Murman. Since 1983, after a long break field and experimental studies on nutrition and food relationships of fish at different stages of ontogeny were initiated. First of all, those were quantitative aspects of food consumption in different seasons and calculation of rations, and since 1984 - fish bioenergy in the North Sea. In the 80’s, an important part of the research in the ichthyology laboratory was the development of the polar mariculture of marine and anadromous fish species. On the basis of numerous experiments on keeping, feeding and reproduction of Atlantic cod, plaice and flounder, catfish, Atlantic salmon, individual elements of the technologies on their production have been developed. Since 1992, the main directions of the laboratory studies were focused on elucidating the structure and functional characteristics of fishing communities of the Barents, Norwegian, and Greenland Seas, bioenergy of the northern seas, biology and behavior of salmon in small rivers north of the Kola Peninsula. Since 1993, during 9 years intensive field studies on ships working in scientific and fishing mode were conducted. It allowed collecting data on the population structure of the main commercial species of fish in the Barents Sea, on their distribution and migration trends in this period. There were also studies on the potential for fishery species in the Barents Sea. In the 90’s, experimental work on bioenergy of boreal and arctic fish species from the northern seas was fulfilled in the framework of international cooperation.


Main research areas
In recent years (2010-2014), investigations in the ichthyology and physiology laboratory are mostly directed towards the following: determination of the species composition and structure of the fish communities of the Russian Arctic seas and adjacent waters (Norwegian and Greenland Seas); determination of the status of fish fauna communities from intertidal and subtidal zones in the Barents Sea; factor analysis of habitats of Arctic fish species and various aspects of the biology of fishes and fish-like vertebrates; study of the growth, production, metabolism and adaptation of the Arctic marine fish species; determination of ecological, morpho-physiological and cytological characteristics of the cultured juveniles of marine fish; study of physiological mechanisms of electromagnetic fields effect on aquatic organisms. Each year, the laboratory staff is involved in coastal and marine expeditions on board ships of MMBI RAS and other organizations, both in Russia and abroad, and in the framework of international cooperation they carry out experimental work in specialized departments of the University of Tromsø and Bodø (Norway).
In the past decade, a high importance of the laboratory staff findings was repeatedly highlighted by the RAS.


The ichthyology and physiology laboratory employees: