Scientific Achievements

Conducting and holding of basic research, and also of pioneer and applied investigations in the field of zoology are main trends in the work of the Zoological Institute, being performed in the following directions: taxonomy, faunistics, biogeography, evolutionary morphology, paleozoology and animal phylogeny; biological basis of parasitism, ecology and behavior of animals; functioning of aquatic ecosystems; control and rational use of the animal world.

In 2010–2020, major regional faunas of the globe, and also taxonomic revisions and keys to animals of different taxonomic groups were published by Institute specialists. The main attention was paid to the Eurasian fauna, first of all, to the Russian fauna, and also to regions of the world ocean, including Arctic and Antarctic regions; at the same time, a significant contribution was made into the study of some tropical faunas, especially in the Southeast Asia. Recent years were distinguished by the use of not only classic methods of comparative and evolutionary morphology, including studies of cellular fine structure with the use of modern methods of microscopy, but also by a wide use of the most modern methods of molecular taxonomy. The use of the mentioned methods allowed revealing of 200–250 new animal species annually, making a significant contribution to our knowledge on biodiversity.

Zoological Institute continues a tradition of different “host-parasite” studies gained already in the first half of the 20th century. These studies are conducted in different laboratories of the Institute. Many parasitic animal groups are examined in the Institute, including animal, human, and plant parasites and their vectors. These studies are very important for health care, agriculture, and forestry.

A separate scientific trend is the study of animal migrations, including physiological and behavioral basis of this adaptation. New data on navigation abilities of migratory birds were obtained, in particular, the use of the magnetic “road map” during goal search was demonstrated.

Studies of aquatic ecosystems, including freshwater, marine, and brackish water reservoirs occupy an important place in Institute activities. The stuff of different laboratories examines energy and matter flows in aquatic ecosystems; the objects of studies includes zoobenthos of Arctic, Antarctic, and Pacific Oceans, and regularities of functioning of unstable reservoirs with volatile salinity. Monitoring of seasonal and long-term dynamics of aquatic ecosystems and influence of climatic changes on the state of marine biota is performed.

One more significant direction in studies includes examination of unicellular eukaryotes; for this purpose, a new laboratory was established in 2018 within the frames of the national “Nauka” project. Establishment of other new laboratories is also planned; these laboratories will study actual problems of zoology.

In relation to changes in species ranges and appearance of alien invasive species and also to constantly increasing anthropogenic influence on the environment, new scientific problems and practical tasks appear constantly; specialists of the Institute successfully solve these problems, also elaborating methods of control of population density in animal species undesirable for humans.

Paleozoological studies conducted in the Institute include as descriptions of new for science fossil species (mollusks, insects, vertebrates), so projects on the complex study of ancient faunas of late Mesozoic and Cenozoic.

Great attention is constantly paid to the information provision of zoological studies, creation of specialized taxonomic, faunistic, bibliographical, and collection computer databases. Recently, a new basis of information retrieval system on unique type (standard) specimens of the basic collection of the Institute, containing data on more than 35000 specimens and about 13500 images. Part of this information is exhibited in the international platform.

The staff of the Institute directly participate in realization of a series of federal and regional scientific programs and projects, financially supported by state scientific foundations of the Russian Federation and foreign and international organizations, in elaboration of scientific forecasts and conducting of scientific-technical expertises, in organization of scientific expeditions aimed to collection of zoological subjects in different regions of our planet.

The main results of the conducted studies are reflected in fundamental monographs of series “Fauna of Russia”, “Keys to Species of the Fauna of Russia”, published by the Zoological Institute RAS, catalogues, guidebooks, and analogical publications, and also in numerous papers in leading Russian and foreign magazines. On the whole, more than 140 scientific and popular-scientific books were published by specialists of the Institute, and annual number of published scientific papers exceeds 350.

Internet portal of the Institute in 2019 was visited by more than 3.5 million internet users. Zoological Museum is annually visited by 230 thousands visitors; recently a virtual tour of the Museum has been created.