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ZOOLOGISTS TOOK A CLOSER LOOK AT TROPICAL MOLLUSCS AND DESCRIBED 4 NEW SPECIES
A team of biologists from the IEE RAS and the Faculty of Biology of Moscow State University studied the common tropical nudibranch mollusc Coryphellina rubrolineata. Molecular genetic analyzes, as well as a study of the external and internal structure of animals, showed that this is not one species, but at least five. As a result, the authors described four new species of nudibranch mollusks that differ in mitochondrial and nuclear genes, as well as body stripes. The study was supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF), the results were published in the journal Diversity. Molecular genetic methods have allowed scientists to better identify cryptic (similar in appearance, but genetically different) and pseudocryptic (different in appearance, but this becomes clear only after applying genetic methods) species and species complexes. With their spread in taxonomy, the hypothesis of the leading role of geographical barriers and spatial isolation in speciation began to dominate. Often, remote populations of the same species with a wide range began to be divided into several species, based solely on genetic comparison data, which is not always justified. Recent studies in the field of evolution and phylogeny emphasize the great role of the ecological factor in speciation: organisms can diverge into different ecological niches within the same geographical area, acquiring new characters and isolating according to their "way of life."
SCIENTISTS OF THE IEE RAS TOGETHER WITH MATHEMATICIANS FROM INM RAS AND MIPT DEVELOPED A MODEL FOR STUDYING THE ECOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF PATHOGENIC FUSARIAN FUNGI
Existing methods of combating pathogenic species of Fusarium fungi are not effective enough due to the high variability and specificity of the biology of these phytopathogenic microorganisms. The aim of our work was to reconstruct the kinetic mechanisms that determine the biomass of Fusarium species in the agroecosystem to minimize the risk of the spread of Fusarium. Using dynamic modeling, a system consisting of three components was studied: soil fungieating nematodes, Fusarium fungi and winter wheat seedlings. Based on the results of the parameter estimation and global sensitivity analysis, scientists identified three model parameters that have the strongest impact on the biomass of Fusarium species: (1) the rate of reproduction of mushroom-eating nematodes due to feeding on Fusarium fungi, (2) the rate of natural death of fungi-eating nematodes, and (3) tank size media for Fusarium fungi. According to the results of stochastic modeling, the internal variability of the dynamics of the biomass of Fusarium species was two orders of magnitude higher than the internal variability of the dynamics of the abundance of fungi-eating nematodes. The developed model made it possible to obtain fundamentally new information about the main mechanisms of interaction between Fusarium species, fungi-eating nematodes, and winter wheat plants, as well as to identify the most promising mechanisms that can reduce the biomass of Fusarium species in the soil.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE PROGRAM OF RESTORATION OF THE CAUCASIAN LEOPARD IN THE CAUCASUS?
On June 2, 2022, a meeting of the section of experts on the Persian leopard was held at the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia. The issue of releasing young leopards that were born in the Sochi "Leopard Recovery Center in the Caucasus" in 2020, which is fundamentally important for the restoration of this species in the Caucasus, was discussed. In the Central Caucasus, in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania and the adjacent territories of Kabardino-Balkaria, through the efforts of the participants in the Program for the restoration of the Caucasian leopard in the Caucasus, a small, but stable group of this rare species has already been created, which is beginning to attract leopards from neighboring regions of Transcaucasia. In places where leopards were released on camera traps, not only released, but also wild leopards began to be recorded. An increase in this group due to the release of two-year-old leopards Leo, Khosta and Laura into these places in 2022, whose readiness for life in nature was confirmed by a group of experts from the IEE RAS, IEGT RAS, the Moscow Zoo and WWF-Russia, would increase the viability of the created group of leopards. Despite the problems with the delivery of Canadian satellite collars to Russia, the IEE RAS staff prepared domestic transmitters for leopards, which have proven themselves well when working with other species of predatory mammals. They are not inferior to Canadian ones in their characteristics and do not interfere with animals’ hunting.
FROM CALIFORNIA TO KAMCHATKA: AFTER MIGRATION, GRAY WHALES GAIN WEIGHT IN KRONOTSKY RESERVE
In the specially protected water area of ​​the Olga Bay of Kronotsky Bay, scientists from the A.N. Severtsov Institute for Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences have begun the next stage of research on the most ancient baleen whales listed in the Red Books of all levels. Olga Bay in the Kronotsky Reserve has been serving gray whales native to the waters of California and Mexico for many years as a kind of summer restaurant. Here, after wintering off the coast of North America and the birth of offspring, they “halt” during a long migration to feed in shallow water off benthos - organisms that live at the bottom of the coastal zone or above its surface. These are bottom fish species, crustaceans and various mollusks. In the Kronotsky Nature Reserve, where fishing is not carried out and there is no intensive navigation, the whales feel completely safe. Gray whales are one of the main objects of observation for participants in sea excursions and scientific expeditions in the protected bay. In July, here you can see about fifty individuals in one day, watch their fountains. IEE RAS expedition to study gray whales started in early June. Marine biologists conduct photo-ID of animals. This is necessary in order to trace the migration path of "old acquaintances" and to add new encountered individuals to the existing catalogs of gray whales. The data will allow us to learn more about the migration routes and lifestyle of ancient marine mammals and develop recommendations for the conservation of the population. The expedition members shared their first results.
UNDERESTIMATED PARASITES: WARMING CLIMATE MAY INTERFERE WITH FRESHWATER FOOD CHAINS
An increase in temperature in water bodies can lead to a noticeable change in the life cycle of parasites, according to the research of scientists from the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS. Due to global warming, it is possible to change the “parasite-host” chains, which will lead to a restructuring of the entire appearance of freshwater ecosystems. In recent years, there has been growing interest among scientists in how temperature affects the risk of transmission of infections in ecosystems, or, in other words, the interaction of parasites and their hosts. To find out, scientists from the IEE RAS studied how temperature affects the separation of the dispersal stages (larvae/cercariae) of two closely related species of parasitic flatworms (trematodes): Rhipidocotyle campanula and R. fennica. The first intermediate host in these species of trematodes is the mollusk - common toothless (Anodonta anatina), the second roach. And only the final owners - predatory fish - differ. To conduct the experiment, scientists collected mollusks from rivers and distributed them in flow tanks with three temperature regimes. The average temperature in these tanks was 18°C ​​(range 7-24°C), 15°C (7-20°C) and 13°C (6-18°C). The design of the experiment did not assume a constant temperature of the molluscs. On the contrary, it had to fluctuate in accordance with seasonal changes, as in natural ecosystems, to emulate the real world in terms of global warming. The experiment lasted five months. Every two weeks, the scientists checked whether the molluscs secreted parasitic larvae (cercariae) and, if so, how many.
A LABORATORY FOR EVOLUTIONARY TROPHOLOGY WILL BE CREATED AT IEE RAS
The A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS became the winner of the competition "State support for scientific research conducted under the guidance of leading scientists in Russian educational institutions of higher education, scientific institutions and state scientific centers of the Russian Federation" (9th stage). The application was supported by the leading international scientist Enric Gisbert Casas, whose main place of work is the Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentaries (IRTA), Spain. From the Russian side, the main executors of the grant included researchers from the IEE RAS Mikhail Gopko, Eduard Galoyan, Anna Vasilyeva, Evgeny Esin. From the Institute of Systematics and Ecology of Animals of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, researchers Evgeny Simonov, Elena Kashinskaya, Pavel Vlasenko and Mikhail Solovyov take part in the work. The project "Evolution of the functioning of the digestive system of ectothermic vertebrates as a mechanism for mastering a contrasting habitat" is aimed at solving one of the fundamental problems of biology - determining the patterns of evolutionary transformations of the digestive tract of animals for the successful transformation of matter and energy in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. In the course of this project, a modern laboratory of evolutionary trophology will be created on the basis of the IEE RAS. The laboratory will study specialized groups of fish, amphibians and reptiles, characterized by contrasting food adaptations and living in various natural conditions from the Arctic to the tropics. In addition to the tasks of a fundamental nature, approaches will be found to the development of specialized feeds and additives that will improve the efficiency of raising animals in aquaculture.
K.B. GONGALSKY RECEIVED THE TITLE OF PROFESSOR OF THE RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
On June 22, 2022 Konstantin Bronislavovich Gongalsky, Deputy Director of the IEE RAS, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Head of the Laboratory for the Study of Ecological Soil Functions, received the diploma of a Professor of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The award ceremony took place in the Presidential Hall of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Congratulations to Konstantin Bronislavovich on a well-deserved title! Author of the photo: Andrey Luft, "Scientific Russia".
SKIN MITE FOUND ON WINGS OF PARASITE FLY OF DOMESTIC PIGEON
For the first time in Russia, a skin mite Promyialges italicus from the Epidermoptidae family was discovered by researchers. This will enable a deeper study of its distribution and faunal composition. The study is conducted by the staff of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS. Feather mites of the Epdermoptidae family are persistent ectoparasites whose developmental stages are entirely on the skin of host birds. Some of their representatives, belonging to the subfamily Epidermoptinae and all genera of the subfamily Myialginae, have biological connections with bloodsucking flies Hippoboscidae, which parasitize birds, and less often with the lice Phthiraptera. Fertilized female ticks use flies and lice to disperse and infect other hosts. Attaching to these parasitic insects, female ticks either use them only for transfer to a new host individual, laying eggs on the cuticle around the attachment site in the process of moving, or additionally feed on the hemolymph (blood) of insects, biting through the cuticle of the abdomen. The species Promyialges italicus was first described only in 2019 in Italy, and so far little has been studied. Now it was first discovered in our country on the wings of a fly from a domestic pigeon that died from psittacosis. “The faunistic composition of ticks from this group in Russia is poorly understood, despite their veterinary significance. Neither is the exact species composition nor the distribution of representatives of this family. This article is only part of the preparatory stage for other studies of both ticks and flies with which these ticks are associated,” said Alexandra Yatsuk, junior researcher at the Laboratory of Soil Zoology and General Entomology, IEE RAS.
IEE RAS INSTITUTE VISITED BY STUDENTS FROM VOLOGDA AND CHEREPOVETS
High school students, focused on profile education in biology, visited the laboratories at the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS and listened to the speeches of researchers. The history of our Institute and the main directions of research were relayed by Doctor of Biological Sciences, Deputy Director for Research, prof. RAS Konstantin Gongalsky. After that, Senior Researcher Daniil Korobushkin, Ph.D., gave a lecture “Science and travel, or how to travel while doing science”. He told the students about how to properly pack for the expedition. The future biologists had the opportunity not only to listen to the scientists, but also to observe their work. They visited the Aquarium of the Institute, where researcher Sergey Simanovsky, Ph.D., demonstrated the fish being kept there and described what scientific experiments their data was used for. Sergey also demonstrated the experiment with disposable masks and napkins being put into the water to test the rate of their biodegradation. After a period, fish are put into this water to see how microplastics will affect them.
THE EXCESS OF THE "HORMONE OF HAPPINESS" IN PREGNANT RODENTS INSTILLS CURIOSITY AND EXPLORATIVE NATURE IN THEIR YOUNG
Russian scientists as part of an international team studied the effect of serotonin on the formation of adrenal glands in rodents. It turned out that with an increase in its level during a certain period of pregnancy, fewer cells that produce adrenaline and norepinephrine are formed in the adrenal glands of the young. This change makes rodents less aggressive and anxious, but more friendly and inquisitive - it is these individuals that provide range expansion and migration in the wild. A similar mechanism for regulating the size of the adrenal glands has also been identified in human development. The results of the study, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF), were published in the journal Nature Communications.
BIOLOGY STUDENTS WERE INTRODUCED TO THE METHODS OF FIELD ZOOLOGICAL RESEARCH IN PRACTICE
1st year undergraduates of the Institute of Animal Science and Biology, studying under the program "Resources of Vertebrate Animals (Protection, Reproduction, Rational Use)", completed an internship at the scientific and experimental base "Chernogolovka" of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS. Future biologists acquired practical experience of field zoological research and were introduced to the fauna of the Moscow region. Practical training was preceded by theoretical training - undergraduates were presented with a series of lectures on the behavior and behavioral ecology of mammals, biology of reproduction of vertebrates, methods and technologies for keeping and breeding rare species of mammals. The lectures were conducted by experienced staff of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS. Under the guidance of teachers of the K.A. Timiryazev RGAU-MSHA the students conducted daily route counts of animals in the vicinity of the scientific and experimental base and on its territory. In practice, undergraduates studied representatives of the fauna of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. They learned the main methods of taking morphometric indicators on the example of amphibians of 4 families. The students were given the opportunity to study a unique collection of vertebrates, which includes more than 2,000 individuals. Among them are predatory, insectivorous, rodents, lagomorphs and bats. As Professor of the Department of Zoology Lyubov Malovichko noted, the students did an excellent job with all the tasks set, and the acquired the necessary skills for their further scientific and labor activities.
HYDROBIOLOGISTS DISCOVERED NEW SPECIES OF MICROCRASCEATS ON THE PUTORANA PLATEAU
The researchers described the species composition of crustaceans inhabiting the reservoirs of the Putorana Plateau, a unique mountain range in Central Siberia that is difficult to study. The authors determined the patterns of their distribution, and discovered 23 new taxa for the region, and 4 new for science. The results of the work, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) and published in the journal Diversity, will be invaluable for preserving the region’s unusually rich fauna for the Arctic, which is so vulnerable to human influence and global climate change.
MOTOR TRAITS OF PRIMATES OCCURRED IN EVOLUTION EARLIER THAN THEM
An international team of scientists has found that the Malayan tupaya uses the same motor patterns as primates when moving through trees. This shows that some of the characteristics of primates appeared in evolution before themselves. The work was attended by scientists of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) RAS. One of the most interesting mysteries in human evolution is the transition to the arboreal lifestyle of its ancestors, the primates. Most of them, including the most primitive representatives, are arboreal animals. According to one theory, it is assumed that human upright posture arose as a result of the adaptation of his closest ancestors to one of the most specialized ways of arboreal movement - brachiation. During brachiation, the animal moves by hanging under the branches of trees and throwing itself from branch to branch with its forelimbs (arms). This method is well suited for the movement of relatively large animals in crowns with horizontal branches. Gibbons, orangutans, and some South American monkeys are capable of brachiation. Today, the brachiation hypothesis has become one of the main reconstructions of the formation of human upright posture, since the body is located vertically, and the musculoskeletal system adapts to this position. However, the question of how exactly the primates mastered the arboreal way of life, and how their early locomotor adaptations were formed, remains open. Their next of kin can help answer it.
IT IS PLANNED TO RELEASE THREE CAUCASIAN LEOPARDS INTO THE WILD OF RNO-ALANIA
In mid-July, the next release of Caucasian leopards, which are traditionally called snow leopards in the Caucasus, is planned on the territory of North Ossetia-Alania. Among them are two females and one male, which will replenish the group of leopards that is being formed here. In April 2022, a group of animal behavior specialists from four organizations (IEE RAS, IEGT RAS, WWF-Russia and the Moscow Zoo) assessed the readiness of these animals for life in nature using special behavioral tests. Behavioral tests for these purposes were developed by IEE RAS staff back in 2016, then refined with the participation of animal welfare specialists from the Moscow Zoo, who have gained invaluable and unique experience, and are used to evaluate all leopards before release. “The principle of such a test of leopards is to create a situation for them that provokes the animal to make the wrong decision (for example, in the case of testing the reaction of a leopard to a human, to become interested in them). If the animal does not succumb to provocation and fear of a human keeps the animal from wanting to take an interest in a new object, then this decision will contribute to its survival in nature. Experts evaluate not only the reaction of the animal and its behavior in the situation itself, but also what decision the leopard makes after the situation is resolved: whether it goes to the place where the human was, whether it is interested in the direction where the human went. It is also very important to understand that in nature a leopard will not follow a man,” says Anna Yachmennikova. The check showed that all three leopards (females Khosta and Laura and male Leo) are ready for release.
GRAY WHALES GROWING AREAS IN OLGA BAY TO BE MARKED ON MAP
A three-week expedition of the A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences to study the Sea of ​​Okhotsk gray whales in the protected waters of the Pacific Ocean has concluded. Further, scientific research in Olga Bay will be continued by employees of the Kronotsky Reserve. During the expedition, scientists identified 62 gray whales, of which half of the animals were encountered off the coast of Sakhalin in previous years. “We registered only 3 mother-calf pairs. This is quite a small amount, but not a problem, since the main feeding area for female gray whales with calves is still the Piltun area on Sakhalin. Kamchatka for them is only a part of the migratory route. As I said, at the very beginning of the feeding season, many individuals look noticeably emaciated. The observations, which will be continued by the staff of the reserve in July and August, will show how successfully the animals were able to fatten. Interestingly, active molting was observed in several individuals. Most likely, this is due to strong water freshening near the coast in places where the whales feed. Basically, they stayed at depths of 6-10 meters,” said Matvey Mamaev, expedition leader, leading engineer of the IEE RAS. Recall that it was the shore of the Olga Bay, near which the red-listed marine giants feed annually during migration, that became the first facility where the accumulated environmental damage was eliminated under the federal program. Work was going on in 2015. 1,300 tons of solid waste and scrap metal were removed from the protected coast, including 5,000 barrels with fuel residues.
FOR FOUR MONTHS, SCIENTISTS OF IEE RAS OBSERVED MARINE MAMMALS AND BIRDS OF THE ANTARCTIC AND ATLANTIC
From December 7 to April 6, the 87th voyage of the research vessel "Akademik Mstislav Keldysh" took place. During the voyage, the “Integrated Expeditionary Program for Performing Krill Resource Research and Research on the Ecosystem of the Southern Ocean (Antarctic Atlantic Sector)” was carried out, within the framework of which observations of marine mammals and birds were carried out. The starting point of the voyage was the port of Kaliningrad, where the expedition returned upon completion of their studies. The expedition consisted of scientists from the A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS Pavel Chukmasov, Andrey Tretyakov, Larisa Tretyakova. Anton Chernetsky., the researcher of the IO RAS, Ph.D., also took part in the observations. For more than 1,400 hours, scientists observed mammals and birds during the expedition, including more than 420 hours in Antarctica. A total of 29 species of marine mammals were recorded during the observation period. 28 bird species have been recorded in Antarctica, 58 bird species have been recorded at the Atlantic crossing.
IT HAS BEEN DISCOVERED HOW THE DAPHNIAS SURVIVED DURING THE PLEISTOCENE GLACIATION
Russian scientists have established that glaciations, which occurred repeatedly in the Pleistocene, significantly affected the modern ranges of freshwater daphnia. These crustaceans colonized the waters where they can still be found today from a small number of lakes in Beringia, the land bridge between Eurasia and North America. The data obtained will help in the development of a complete biogeographic zoning of Northern Eurasia. The results of the study, supported by a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (RSF), are published in the journal Water. Cladocerans of the genus Daphnia are one of the most common planktonic organisms in fresh water. They play an important role in ecosystems, in particular, many species of fish feed on them. Daphnia are widespread in many climatic zones, but due to the harsh climate, their diversity in the Arctic and subarctic regions is significantly reduced. At the same time, in the course of the historical development of the Earth, there were several periods of freezing, when the temperatures on its surface were much lower than now. This greatly affected the habitats of living organisms, including crustaceans. For example, during the Pleistocene glaciations, many representatives of the Daphnia genus inhabited the Bering region, including Beringia itself, a wide land bridge connecting Eurasia and North America.
IEE RAS EXPEDITIONS TO KAMCHATKA UNDER QUESTION
For many years, IEE RAS has been successfully cooperating with the Kronotsky State Biosphere Reserve, which is included in the UNESCO list of natural sites. The result of cooperation was numerous publications in Russian and foreign editions, dissertations being prepared for defense. In the course of joint work, good business and warm friendly relations have developed between the employees of the Institute and the Reserve. In 2022, the teams of both organizations planned a major expedition to study Lake Kronotskoye, a unique reservoir, the cradle of the richest sympatric salmon complex on the planet in terms of the number of forms. IEE RAS announces with great regret that the work planned for this year, apparently, will not take place, since from July 19, 2022, the reserve is forced to suspend research activities on its territory. The decision of the reserve is connected with the detention of key employees of the organization, accused of embezzlement of funds allocated from the state budget, by the verdict of the city court of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. According to the opinion of the staff of the reserve and the materials presented on the website of the reserve http://kronokiochistka.wildnet.ru/, numerous violations were committed during the proceedings and the actual materials and eyewitness accounts proving the innocence of the convicted employees were not taken into account. In protest, the director of the reserve and a number of his other employees wrote letters of resignation of their own free will, which led to the suspension of all scientific and excursion work on the territory of the reserve.