Biological Stations

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Biological Stations


scientific research facilities established to make a thorough long-term study of plants and animals under natural conditions and to conduct experiments. They also work on problems of great practical importance (acclimatization, fishing, fish breeding, reclamation of deserts and mountainous regions, enhancement of the biological productivity of natural complexes, and so on). The stations are located in regions with specific natural conditions (for example, marine, freshwater, forest, steppe, desert, mountain, tropical, and arctic stations) and in regions inhabited by unusual live organisms.

The first biological stations were marine stations that came into being with the extension of biologists’ interests beyond classification and morphology and with the intensified study of physiology and embryology (during the 1830’s and 1840’s). The development of general biological problems (phylogeny, connection between ontogeny and phylogeny, interrelations of the organism with the environment, and so on) stimulated by Darwin’s theory increased this interest even more. The attempts of the German naturalist K. Vogt to organize a stationary marine laboratory were unsuccessful. The first small laboratory for marine zoology and physiology was established in 1859 in Concarneau (France). However, it took the brilliant discoveries of the Russian scientists A. O. Kovalevskii and I. I. Mechnikov (during the 1860’s) in the embryology of Mediterranean marine animals to demonstrate the need to organize large biological stations. On the initiative of N. N. Miklukho-Maklai, the Second Congress of Russian Naturalists decided in 1869 to organize a biological station on the Black Sea. The task was entrusted to the Novorossiisk (Odessa) Society of Naturalists, which established a biological station in Sevastopol’ in 1871. In 1892 this station was placed under the jurisdiction of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. A. O. Kovalevskii became the director of the station, which he enlarged and reequipped into the largest Russian biological station. On the initiative of A. Dorn, and largely with his own funds and those of the world’s scientists plus grants from several countries (including Russia), the Naples Zoological Station was organized in 1874. French biological stations were organized in Roscoff (1872), Wimereux (1874), Banyuls-sur-Mer, and Iles d’Endoume (near Marseille). In 1881, N. N. Miklukho-Maklai succeeded in organizing a biological station near Sydney (Australia). Professor A. Korotnev of the University of Kiev organized a Russian biological station (1886) in Vil-lefranche (France). In the United States, the largest marine biological station was established in Woods Hole (Massachusetts) in 1888. The largest biological station in England—Plymouth—was established in 1888. In Russia, the Solovetskaia Biological Station of the St. Petersburg Society of Naturalists was established on the White Sea in 1881 and was later (1899) moved to the Murmansk coast of Kola Gulf, where thanks to the warm Atlantic current the fauna is abundant and varied. The distribution of animals in the Bay of Sevastopol’ and Kola Gulf was studied at the Sevastopol’ and Murmansk biological stations. The Astrakhan (1898) and Baku (1912) biological stations engaged chiefly in fishery investigations. There are now (1970) about 200 marine biological stations all over the world.

The organization of freshwater biological stations was associated with the development of limnology and hydrobiology and with the study of the biological productivity of bodies of water. A station was set up on the Počernický pond in Bohemia in 1888. The Plón Hydrobiological Station (Germany) was founded in 1890, and the first Russian freshwater station was established on Lake Glubokoe (near Moscow) in 1891. Stations organized in Russia later on included: a station on Bologoe Lake (1896, subsequently moved to Lake Seliger and called the Borodin Biological Station in honor of its founder I. P. Borodin), the Volga station in Saratov (1900), the Kosino station near Moscow (1908–40), the Dnieper station in Kiev (1908), and the Zvenigorod station (1910).

Biological stations for the study of terrestrial fauna and flora came into being later in the 20th century as a result of advances in ecological research. A number of biological stations investigate living conditions in forests, steppes, deserts, tropical regions, mountainous regions, and polar regions. A few are situated along the routes of migratory birds (for example, on Helgoland Island), which are studied by banding large numbers of them. Preserves are special kinds of biological stations.

After the October Revolution the network of biological stations in the USSR began to grow rapidly. The Academy of Sciences of the USSR and the academies of sciences of the Union republics, as well as the leading universities of the USSR, have their own stations. In the case of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, for example, they include the Murmansk Biological Station (moved in 1936 to Dal’nie Zelentsy Bay and reorganized in 1958 into the Murmansk Marine Biological Institute of the Kola Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR), the Baikal Limnological Station (1928, reorganized in 1961 into the Limnological Institute), the N. A. Morozov Borok Station (reorganized in 1962 into the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters based in the Rybinsk Reservoir), and others. Under the jurisdiction of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR are the Sevastopol’ Biological Station (reorganized in 1963 into the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas), the experimental biological station in the Komi ASSR, the biological station in Kaliningrad Oblast, the Kuibyshev Biological Station, the Karadag Biological Station on the Black Sea (1914), the Kherson Hydrobiological Facility, the Aleksandriia Experimental Facility, and others. The Academy of Sciences of the Armenian SSR has the Sevan Hydrobiological Station. The Academy of Sciences of the Kirghiz SSR has a biological station on Lake Issyk-Kul’, and Moscow State University has a biological station on the White Sea (1938). The activities of the biological stations became specialized during the Soviet regime, especially in fishery matters. The All-Union Scientific-Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography, the State Scientific-Research Institute of Lake and River Fisheries, and the All-Russian Scientific-Research Institute of Pond Fisheries have an extensive network of biological stations where research is carried out on the biological basis for the rational use and reproduction of fish and other (animal and plant) resources of the seas and inland waters. The Varzob Mountain Botanical Station, the Pamir facility of the Academy of Sciences of the Tadzhik SSR, the V. L. Komarov Mountain-Taiga Station (Primor’e Krai) of the Far Eastern branch of the Siberian Division of the USSR Academy of Sciences, and other stations are working on matters relating to the development of the natural resources of mountainous regions. The development of deserts is the concern, for example, of the Repetek Sand and Desert Station (1912) of the Academy of Sciences of the Turkmen SSR, the Nebit-Dag Agrosylvicultural Station, and the Aral region and Turkmen experimental stations of plant growing. A special network of agricultural and zootechnical stations work on practical aspects of plant growing and livestock raising. Many biological stations do more than research. They provide summer courses and opportunities for students of institutions of higher learning to gain practical experience. The requirements of secondary school students are satisfied by special school biological stations for young naturalists.


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Zernov, S. A. Obshchaia gidrobiologiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1949.
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Zenkevich, L. A. Biologiia morei SSSR. Moscow, 1963.
Kofoid, C. A. The Biological Stations of Europe. Washington, 1910.
Lenz, F. “Limnologische Laboratorien.” In Handbuch der biologischen Arbeitsmethoden. Edited by E. Abderhalden. Section 9, part 2, issue 232. Berlin-Vienna, 1927.
Vaughan, T. W. International Aspects of Oceanography. Washington, 1937.
Lillie, F. K. The Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Chicago, 1944.
Jack, H. A. “Biological Field Stations of the World.” Chronica Botanica, 1945, vol. 9, no. 1.
Hiatt, R. W., ed. World Directory of Hydrobiological and Fisheries Institutions. Washington, 1963.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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