History of the Institute

Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences (complete official name: Federal State-Funded Budget Institution the Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences; brief name ZIN RAS) was established in 1832 as the Zoological museum of the Emperor Academy of sciences. This museum, in its turn, was formed on the basis of zoological collections of the Chamber of Curiosities (Kunstkammer), the first Russian museum, founded by Peter I in 1714.

At present, July 4 (17), 1832, is considered to be the foundation date of the Institute. At this date, F.F. Brandt has demonstrated the first halls of the museum in a new building, known as the “Museum Annex of the Academy of Sciences”.

In 1931, during large reformation of the Academy of Sciences, the Museum that since 1896 was situated in the building where it is situated nowadays was renamed into the Zoological Institute, and the museum, that had got the name “the Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute RAS”, became its exhibition department on the rights of a subdivision of the Institute.

The main building of the Institute is situated in the center of St. Petersburg at the Spit of Vasilyevsky Island, Island (Universitetskaya nab. 1); several laboratories are located in a building at Angliisky pr., 32; storage facilities are situated in Shuvalovo.

Zoological Institute RAS is the leading zoological institution of Russia, according to the results of activity included into the first category of scientific organizations of RAS. The main directions of its studies are the following: studies of biodiversity; studies of marine, fresh-water, and terrestrial ecosystems; elaboration of scientific basis of rational usage of the fauna and protection and reconstruction of ecosystems.

The largest in Russia and one of the largest in the world collection, comprising about 60 million samples, serves as the basis for the study of Russian and world fauna, and also for basic research in fields of taxonomy and phylogeny of animals, their morphology, ecology, speciation, and macroevolution. About 260 thousand animal species are represented in the collection, comprising about one-fourth of the world fauna and also tens of thousands type specimens.

The largest in Russia zoological library with about 6000 thousand storage units is also situated in the Institute; this library is a department of the library of RAS. The Institute is furnished with necessary equipment for performing of studies at the modern level; it forms databases on its collections.

In different years, many most prominent Russian biologists worked at the Institute, e.g., A.P. Andriyashev, F.F. Brandt, L.S. Berg, K.M. Ber, Yu.S. Balashov, B.E. Bykhovsky, A.A. Byalynitsky-Birula, N.K. Vereshchagin, G.G. Vinberg, A.N. Golikov, E.G. Guryanova, V.A. Dogel, I.S. Darevsky, S.A. Zernov, N.V. Nasonov, G.S. Medvedev, P.P. Sushkin, A.V. Ivanov, I.M. Kerzhner, N.M. Knipovich, G.U. Lindberg, E.N. Pavlovsky, O.A. Skarlato, Ya.I. Starobogatov, I.I. Shmalgausen, A.A. Shtakelberg, P.V. Ushakov, and many others.

During the museum period, the Institute (Zoological Museum at that time) was headed by academicians F.F. Brandt (in 1831-1879), А.А. Shtraukh (1879-1893), F.D. Pleske (1893-1896), V.V. Zalensky (1897-1906), N.V. Nasonov (1906-1921), А.А. Byalynitsky-Birula (1921-1929; till 1927, there was an acting director and the Institute was headed by s Council). After renaming of the museum, the Institute was headed by academicians S.A. Zernov (in 1931-1942), E.N. Pavlovsky (1942-1962), B.E. Bykhovsky (1962-1974), O.A. Skarlato (1974-1994), A.F. Alimov (1994-2005) and O.N. Pugachev (in 2005-2018).

The main results of the research (up to 2018) are reflected in 176 volumes of “Fauna of Russia and adjacent countries”, being published since 1911 (in 1929-1992 – “Fauna of USSR”) and 179 volumes of “Keys to fauna of the USSR”, published since 1927 (since 1992 – “Keys to fauna of Russia and adjacent countries”, and also in periodicals. The latter include “Yearbook of the Zoological Museum” (1896-1931, a total of 32 volumes were published), “Proceedings of the Zoological Institute” (322 volumes published since 1932), “Studies of Marine Fauna” (84 volumes published since 1941), “Parasitological Collection” (37 volumes published in 1930-1993), magazine “Zoosystematica Rossica” (26 volumes published since 1993), and also hundreds of monographs and collections of papers. The most important achievements of the scientists of the Institute include the theory of a natural focality of transmissive diseases, elaboration of quantitative approach to the study of biological production in aquatic ecosystems, theory of reticular evolution, etc.

The Institute includes 16 scientific subdivisions — 13 laboratories, Zoological museum, White Sea Biological Station (Cape Kartesh, Karelia), and Biological station “Rybachy” (Kalinigrad oblast), and Department of technical support of scientific research (information section, editorial and publishing section, scientific archive).

Two councils for defense of dissertations function in the Institute: council for dissertations on parasitology and entomology and council for dissertations on zoology, hydrobiology, and biological sciences. A.N. Nikolsky Herpetological Society, Hydrobiological Society, Parasitological Society, and Russian Entomological Society act in the Institute. Staff of the Institute (for the beginning of 2018) includes about 400 persons.

In 1982, Zoological Institute was decorated with the Order of the Red Banner of Labor for its merits in the development of biological science and training of scientists.