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the study of the physiology, history, economic importance, etc., of fishes



a branch of vertebrate zoology that studies fish and their structure, the functioning of their organs, their life habits in all stages of development, and their distribution in time and space, classification, and evolution. Ichthyological research encourages the efficient management of the fishing industry, promoting the development of fishing and fish culture. The many-sided study of fish has led to a number of important biological generalizations on the question of species, variation and evolution, distribution of fishes (bipolar and amphiboreal distribution, theory of faunal complexes), the theory of development (stages in development, for example) and migrations, and population dynamics. These generalizations are also important for the development of bionics (primarily biohydroacoustics) and some other problems.

The oldest generalizations in ichthyology date back to Hindu scholars (Susruta, sixth century B.C.). The first book on fish culture, one also containing information on fish habits, was published in China in the middle of the first millennium B.C. The first systematization of fish is found in Aristotle (fourth century B.C.), who in his History of Animals treated fish as a separate group of aquatic vertebrates and included many facts on their anatomy, reproduction, and habits. Knowledge of fish in Europe did not increase significantly until the 15th century. It was not until the second half of the 15th century that economic development and the expansion of trade created more favorable conditions for the development of all branches of natural science, including the study of fish mainly as a valuable economic object. A great deal of information was gathered in 450 years (15th—19th centuries) on the fauna of marine and freshwater fish (the works of the French scientists P. Belon and G. Rondelet, the Italian scientist I. Salviani, the Swedish scientists P. Artedi and C. Linnaeus, and the German scientists M. Bloch and J. Muller). Later, fish fauna was studied by the French scientist A. Valenciennes; the American scientists D. Jordan and C. Hubbs; the British scientists A. Günther; H. Boulanger, C. Regan, and J. Norman; and the Swedish scientist E. A. Stensio. The scientists who investigated the fish fauna of Russia, including S. P. Krasheninnikov, P. S. Pallas, J. A. Güldenstaedt, I. I. Lepekhin, E. I. Eikhval’d (C. E. Eichwald), K. F. Kessler, and N. A. Varpakhovskiy, made particularly important contributions.

In the 19th century, ichthyology separated from zoology and became an independent discipline. A new stage in its development was begun, directly connected with the rapid increase in fishing and characterized by research on the population dynamics of commercial fish, the effect of fishing on fish reserves, and the conditions of propagation of fish reserves. In Russia, the scientific and commercial research undertaken by K. M. Baer and N. Ia. Danilevskii in the Caspian Sea, the Sea of Azov, the Black and North seas, and Lake Pskov was very important.

Scientific and commercial research was carried out in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century by the German scientist F. Heinke (on herring), the Danish scientist C. Petersen (on cod and flounder), and the Norwegian scientist J. Jort (on herring and cod). In Russia, research at this time was concerned with the development of fish culture (V. P. Vrasskii, O. A. Grimm, I. N. Arnol’d, N. A. Borodin) and with the study of the country’s natural fish resources in connection with the opening up of new commercial regions and maintenance of an efficient fishing industry (the studies of V. K. Brazhnikov, V. K. Sol-datov, and P. Iu. Shmidt on the Far Eastern seas, those of V. I. Meisner, A. N. Derzhavin, K. A. Kiselevich, and N. L. Chugu-nov on the Caspian). The work of N. M. Knipovich, who was director of the Murmansk (1898–), Caspian (1904, 1912–, 1914–), and Azov-Black Sea (1922–) expeditions, was particularly important. Other important contributions were made by L. S. Berg (classification, distribution, paleontology of fishes), V. V. Vasnetsov and S. G. Kryzhanovskii (morphology and embryology of fish), I. F. Pravdin (classification of fish), A. N. Severtsov (anatomy of fish), and E. K. Suvorov (commercial ichthyology).

Beginning in the middle of the 20th century, ichthyologists developed better methods of studying the age and growth of fish, feeding habits, reproduction, population dynamics, and the distribution and migration of fish. Recent advances in physics and chemistry were incorporated into the methods of ichthyological research and into the fishing industry: for example, the use of sonar for locating fish, electric lights to attract and catch fish, and radioisotopes to study the nutrition of fish and to label them. Extensive underwater observations are made at various depths using bathyscaphes, bathyplanes, and underwater television. As a result, it has become possible to make a detailed study of the reaction of fish to sound waves of different frequencies, to light, and to the effects of the electric and magnetic fields. Research in these directions in the USSR is carried out at several institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and at certain universities and institutes of the fishing industry. Ichthyologists are studying fish ecology, classification and zoogeography (handbooks and surveys of all the principal faunas and groups of fish have been prepared), morphology, embryology, physiology and biochemistry (also the physiology of metabolism and fish behavior), genetics, and paleoichthyology.

The chief concerns of modern ichthyology are the dynamics of fish schools, the development of fish (both individual and historical), and the behavior and migration of fish. These matters must be studied in order to promote active marine fishing, propagation of commercial fish reserves, particularly in rivers where the flow has been regulated, and pond fish culture. The urgent tasks of modern ichthyology include the development of a scientific foundation for increasing the extraction of food resources from oceanic waters and the intensification of their exploitation and the creation of an efficient fishing industry in marine and continental waters. A major objective is to elaborate the principles and methods of increasing the productivity of acquatic ecosystems by stimulating the reproduction of schools of commercial fish and exploiting them efficiently, reconstructing the ichthyofauna of bodies of water, and initiating meliorative measures.

There are international associations that promote the development of ichthyological research. The largest are the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (founded in 1902), the International Commission for the North Atlantic Fisheries, and the Soviet-Japanese Fishing Commission. Soviet ichthyologists take part in their work. The fishing division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations with its regional councils and commissions plays a major role in organizing international measures in the fishing industry.

Ichthyological research is conducted in most countries by many scientific organizations. It is especially well developed in the USSR, Japan, the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, the German Democratic Republic, the Federal Republic of Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, India, and Australia.

In the USSR ichthyological research is conducted at the All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) and at such marine institutes as the Polar Scientific Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceonography (PINRO) with a branch in Arkhangel’sk, the Pacific Institute (TINRO) with branches (Kamchatka, Okhotsk, Sakhalin, Amur), the Atlantic Institute (AtlantNIRO), the Azov-Black Sea Institute (AzcherNIRO) with a branch in Odessa, and the Azov, Caspian, and Baltic institutes. In addition there are the Institute of Sturgeon Culture with branches and the Estonian and Azerbaijan laboratories; the State Institute of Lake and River Fisheries (Gos. NIORKh) with branches; the Siberian Institute of the Fishing Industry (Sib. NIRKh) with branches; the All-Union Institute of Pond Fisheries (VNIIPRKh) with branches; the Ukrainian Institute of Lake, River, and Pond Fisheries; the Byelorussian Institute of the Fishing Industry; the Kazakh Institute of the Fishing Industry with branches; and institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (Institute of Zoology, Institute of Evolutionary Morphology and Ecology of Animals, Institute of Oceanography, Institute of Biology of Inland Waters, Murmansk Institute of Marine Biology, Far Eastern Institute of the Biology of the Sea). There are also institutes of the republic academies, notably, the Institute of the Biology of the Southern Seas of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Sevan Hydrobiological Station of the Armenian Academy of Sciences, and Moscow State University, Leningrad State Universty, Tomsk State University, Irkutsk State University, and the Kaliningrad Higher Fish Technical Educational Institution.

Specialists in ichthyology are trained at various universities (Moscow, Leningrad, Tomsk, Perm’, Odessa, Kazan, Kishinev) and in technical institutes and technicums of the fishing industry. All ichthyological research is coordinated by the Ichthyolog-ical Commission of the Ministry of the Fishing Industry of the USSR and the Scientific Council for Ichthyology and Hydrobiology of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

The results of ichthyological research are published in the Trudy of the various institutes and in such journals as Voprosy ikhtiologii (since 1953), Zoologicheskiizhurnal (since 1916), and Rybnoe khoziaistvo (since 1920). Among the ichthyological journals published abroad are Copeia (New York, since 1930), Journal of Fisheries Research Board of Canada (Ottawa, since 1934), and Japanese Journal of Ichthyology (Tokyo, since 1950).


Ocherki po obshchim voprosam ikhtiologii. Edited by E. N. Pavlovskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1953.
Berg, L. S. Sistema ryboobraznykh i ryb, nyne zhivushchikh i iskopa-emykh, 2nd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1955.
Suvorov, E. K. Osnovy ikhtiologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1948.
Soldatov, V. K. Promyslovaia ikhtiologiia, parts 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934–38.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Ekologiia ryb. Moscow, 1963.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Teoriia dinamiki stada ryb kak biologicheskaia osnova ratsionaVnoi ekspluatatsii i vosproizvodstva rybnykh resursov. Moscow, 1965.
Nikol’skii, G. V. Chastnaia ikhtiologiia, 3rd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Iudkin, I. Ikhtiologiia, 5th ed. Moscow, 1970.



(vertebrate zoology)
A branch of vertebrate zoology that deals with the study of fishes.
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