International Biological Program


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International Biological Program

 

(IBP), a long-term study on a worldwide scale of the biological productivity of natural plant and animal communities and those developed by man. It was organized in 1964.

The ultimate objective of the IBP is to discover the basic regularities of distribution and reproduction of organic substances in the interests of their most rational utilization by man and the reception of maximum productivity per area unit under natural conditions or during cultivation. In accordance with this, the IBP includes the study of all natural factors which determine biological productivity of plant and animal organisms and their communities. The IBP also studies the adaptability of man to different living conditions (the extreme north, alpine regions, and other areas). The IBP motto is “The biological principles of productivity of the biosphere and the well-being of man.” The organization of the IBP was necessitated by the rapid growth of world population and by food shortages. The increase in population requires a significant increase in food production and a rational utilization of natural resources, which may be achieved only upon the basis of a scientific approach to agriculture within the limits of the biosphere as a whole. The realization of the IBP should lead to the evaluation of the entire planet as a system capable of supporting life.

The idea of conducting the IBP originated with a group of biologists (including Soviet biologists) in connection with the successful completion of the International Geophysical Year. The preliminary program of biological research was worked out by the International Union of Biological Sciences and the International Council of Scientific Unions in 1960. It was reviewed in 1961 at the general assembly of the International Congress of Biological Sciences in Amsterdam, after which a committee for setting up the IBP was established. This committee included representatives of international organizations in the fields of biology, biochemistry, physiology, and geography. In 1964 in Paris the general assembly of the IBP confirmed the charter of the IBP and the principal aspects of its activity. The participants in the IBP are national academies of the sciences and other analogous national institutions. The International Council of Scientific Unions, the International Union of Biological Sciences, the International Union of Biochemistry, the International Union of Physiological Sciences, and the International Geographical Union also participate in the work of the IBP. The administrative agencies of the IBP consist of a special committee for conducting the IBP and its bureau, accountable to the general assembly. The special committee includes a president, four vice-presidents, a scientific director, representatives of unions, leaders (convenors) of sectional committees, a chairman of the finance committee, and regional chairmen of a group of countries. J. Baer (Switzerland) served as president until 1969, and F. Bourlière (France) has held the office since that time. Each participating country establishes a national committee for conducting IBP. Academician B. E. Bykhovskii directs the Soviet national committee.

The work of the IBP is carried out in seven sections, which are designated by Latin letters: PT, productivity of terrestrial communities; PP, production processes; CT, conservation of terrestrial communities; PF, productivity of freshwater communities; PM, productivity of marine communities; HA, human adaptability; and UM, use and management of biological resources. Special projects are also undertaken: Aqua, for the preservation of internal reservoirs of scientific importance and Telma, for the study and preservation of swamps and peat bogs. The IBP has established a commission for globally based biological stations, which is preparing a project of permanent worldwide networks of biological stations for the study of tendencies toward change of the biological environment, with the aim of timely preventing irreversible changes. The IBP has been conducting research for eight years, with an organizational period from 1964 to 1967 and an operational period from 1967 to 1972. Information concerning the group’s activity is disseminated by a special committee which has published the bulletin IBPNews since 1964 and the information sheet The Biosphere since 1967. The general assembly convenes every other year, the special committee meets once a year, and its bureau meets twice a year.

O. N. BAUER

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