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Our predecessors

O.L. Kryzhanovsky

(the first variant of the article for the Journal

"Entomological Obozrenie")

T.S. Tschitscherine

(1869 - 1904)

In 1994 the 125th anniversary of birthday and the 90th anniversary since the death of the outstanding Russian entomologist Tikhon Sergeyevich Tschitscherine were commemorated. T.S. Tschitscherine has done a lot during his short life.

He sprang of an ancient noble family, which took its origin from Atanasio Chicherini, an Italian who came to Moscow in 1472 in the retinue of Sophia Paleolog, future wife of Ivan III. Many representatives of that family played an important role in the Russian history from the 16th through the 19th century; among those were waywodes, deacons, generals, and senators. Particularly well-known among them was Denis Ivanovish Tschitscherine who in 1763 through 1781 was governer general of Siberia; according to the Encyclopedic dictonary of Brokhaus and Efron Denis Ivanovich Tschitscherine "gained good fame owing to his kindness, care for city improvement and readiness to help poor population. But at the same time he was energetic, steadfast and sometimes even ruthless administrator. In 1765 he purchased the Aleutian Islands" (later sold with Alaska to the USA).

Nowadays Boris Nikolayevich Tschitscherine (1828-1904), a historian, philosopher, and civic leader, professor of state law of Moscow University and a founder of Russian liberalism. In his opinion the major task of state policy was enlightenment closely related to freedom of thought and word and at the same he criticized sharply both socialism and bureaucratism. His works, forgotten for long time, now again are read by the public.

In the Soviet period his nephew Georgii Vasilyevich Tschitscherine (1872-1936) was much more widely known. Georgii Vasilyevich Tschitscherine was among the first Soviet diplomats, people's commissar for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) from 1918 to 1923 and of the USSR from 1923 to 1930. Tikhon Sergeyevich Tschitscherine was a direct descendant of Denis Ivanovich Tschitscherine, nephew of Boris Nikolayevich Tschitscherine and a second cousin of Georgii Vasilyevich Tschitscherine.

Tikhon Sergeyevich Tschitscherine was born into a family of the military and was interested in entomology since his youth. In 1886 at the age of 17 he published his first serious entomological paper with a description of a new species of ground beetle. It is interesting that in the same volume of "Trudy Russkogo Entomologicheskogo obshchestva" the first paper of A.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky came out. T.S. Tschitscherine and A.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky met soon afterwards and later they became close friends.

He studied in the St. Petersburg specialized college for law, one of the three priveleged closed higher schools in Imperial Russia, where only descendants of noble families were admitted. It was founded in 1835 "for juridical education of young people of noble origin". His curriculum included general education classes within the scope of high school programm and three "main classes" dealing entirely with juridical disciplines. Those who graduated from the college were directed to the "Department of the Ministry of Justice", courts and public prosecutor's office.

The college provided general education. Apart from a number of lawyers and statesmen also many men of letters graduated from the college, e.g. I.S. Aksakov, poet A.N. Apukhtin, critic V.V. Stasov), composers P.I. Chaikovsky and A.N. Serov, naturalists (the brilliant paleontologist V.O. Kovalevsky, ornithologist G.P. Dementyev) and others.

Tikhon Sergeyevich Tschitscherine was trained as a lawyer, but his real inclination was in a different field. His first steps in entomology discovered his outstanding talent of a systematist, power of observarion, talent for grasping and evaluation of the major diagnostic characters and to for formulating clearly his statements. This permitted him to become exceptionally highly qualified and efficient in the area that he chose, i.e. a study of extensive family of ground beetles.

He graduated from the college of law in 1889 and was designated as deputy public prosecutor of Daghestan Region the centre of which was the city of Temir-Khan-Shura (now Buinaksk). In Buinaksk he served until autumn 1892 trying to combine his prosecutor's duties and scientific interests and collected insects during his trips "on mission". In particular, at the beginning of the summer 1890 he visited Apsheron Peninsula and Krasnovodsk. Unfortunately he passed those collections abroad to the well-known French collector R. Obertur.

In those years T.S. Tschitscherine had no time for entomological studies and therefore he published no works in the period from 1890 to 1892. At the end of 1892 he received a fairly large legacy. This permitted T.S. Tschitscherine to quit and devote himself entirely to his main cause. He started working at the Zoological Museum of the Academy of Sciences using its collections and the library. This promoted further development of his scientific talent. In the period from 1893 to 1896 he worked at the Museum, which at that time urgently needed scientific staff and funds and therefore help of "volunteers of science" was particularly important.

T.S. Tschitscherine restricted his research to systematics of ground beetles and was studying mostly two large groups of the family that were insufficiently studied at that time. At that time he placed major emphasis on the giant tribe Pterostichini, which he called Feroniini, and later Platysmatini and included into it the giant genus Amara that has been now placed in a separate tribe Harpalini. He dedicated to it the majority of his works and was studying it within the world scale. In particular, he examined many groups characteristic of Africa, Madagascar, southern Asia, Australia, South America. However he published also several important groups on the tiger beetles, for which he examined material collected in Iran by the Russian traveller, ornithologist N. Zarudnyi and also described several forms from Tibet and a number of faunal lists and notes.

In 1896 his activities in the Museum was interrupted apparently because A.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky left the Museum at the same time. T.S. Tschitscherine travelled abroad to Germany, France, Belgium. For some time he moved to Olgino estate in Vladimirskaya province. Having established relations with the major museums of Western Europe and a number of collectors from whom he received extensive materials for examination he focused entirely on his research and worked with great intensity. At that period he began studying one more group of ground beetles -- the Palaearctic Harpalini. He conducted a thorough study of that group and in particular restructured considerably the system of genera of that tribe.

Contacts with French entomologists had one more consequence for T.S. Tschitscherine, though not quite successful. In the beginning of 1900 he undertook a trip to Madagascar that was French colony at that time. Fauna of ground beetles of that island was rich and very peculiar; at that time his research was only started and T.S. Tschitscherine published a large paper on an endemic Madagascar genus. He hoped that he would collect abundant interesting materials. However as the vessel traveled from Marceille through Suez Channell to Madagascar he was playing cards with his fellow-travellers and lost all his money. Fortunately he had a return ticket. Having disembarked in Diego-Suares in the northern part of the island he had to wait for the nearest return voyage to come back to France.

However during those few days T.S. Tschitscherine he collected vast materials in the large forest area situated nearby. He had to sell these materials to Paris Museum in order to pay the debt. He kept only a part of the ground beetles. Thus, he gained less than he had hoped, although as a result of the trip a considerable contribution was made in the study of entomofauna of the island. In Olgino he carried out thorough faunal collections and, in particular, had left a reliably identified collection of ground beetles of the local fauna. He also collected interesting materials on other beetle families.

In Olgino he carried out thorough faunal collections and, in particular, had left a reliably identified collection of ground beetles of the local fauna. He also collected interesting materials on other beetle families. A noteworthy episode of T.S. Tschitscherine's acttivities dated to 1901 can be mentioned. On the initiative of A.P. Semenov-Tyan-Shansky and A.I. Yakovlev, an entomologist from Yaroslavl conducting faunal studies, a moderate landowner and an eminent participant in "zemstvo" (local council), a group of Russian entomologists had undertaken publication of the journal "Russian Entomological Review". Its compilers were T.S. Tschitscherine, a well-known specialist in Hymenoptera, N.R. Kokuyev, a hotel owner in Yarosalvl, N.Ya. Kuznetsov a teacher of St. Petersburg University and N.N. Shiryaev a collector. Publication of the journal started in 1901, first in Yaroslavl and then in St. Petersburg as a private edition. It soon became one of the most interesting entomological journals in Europe. In 1907 the publication of the journal was carried out by the Russian Entomological Society and a few years later it became its main body. In spite of the many difficulties that the journal had experienced in different periods it is published up till present and is the most authoritative periodical in the field of entomology in Russia.

In the beginning of 1902 T.S. Tschitscherine moved from Olgino to St. Petersburg where he examined collections of P.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky which was particularly rich in the Palaearctic beetles. Apart from the majority of species known from Western Europe and Mediterranean it contained materials collected in different parts of the Russian empire: in the Caucasus, Siberia, Middle Asia and the Far East. It was particularly valuable owing to collections of Russian travellers of the 19th century from Eastern and Central Asia and Iran. The collection posed for T.S. Tschitscherine an extensive and interesting field of study, he extended his work to groups of ground beetles that he had not studied before. The above-mentioned works on tiger beetles date to that particular period. At the same time he dedicated much time to the "Russian Entomological Review" in which apart from original papers he published synopses, read proofs and rendered different kinds of assistance.

In those years he was at the zenith of his knowledge and creative activities. His scientific broke off tragically. The fatal passion for gambling lead T.S. Tschitscherine to a great loss after which he committed a suicide on 22 March 1904. He was not yet 35.

During short but bright life he became a part of not only Russian, but also world entomology. He published more than 80 scientific papers some of which are very large. Their total volume was 1000 pages. A number of plans remained unfulfilled. In the published papers he described 598 species from different parts of the world, established 39 new genera, a considerable number of subgenera and four groups of suprageneric rank. For the tribes Pterostichini and Harpalini he layed the foundation of their modern systematics.

He published results of his research mostly in Russian editions, primarily in "Proceedings of the Russian Entomological Society", but he published a large number of his papers also in France, and a few papers also in Belgium and Austria. The majority of papers are written in French. He had a complete command of French. Only a few works are published in Russian, only those that he believed would be of interest mostly for Russian readers only.

The name of T.S. Tschitscherine is perpetuated owing to his publications that are still being used by scientists from different countries. A number of insects were named after him. Among those is the South American tribe of ground beetles Tichoniina, genera of that family, i.e. Tichonilla, Tschitscherinea, Tschitscherinellus, leaf-eating beetle Tschitscherinula and a great many of species belonging to different families of beetles.

One more memorial to this outstanding entomologist is his collection ground beetles. He bequeathed it to A.P. Semenov-Tian-Shansky and later it was included in the collection of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Although it has not been preserved as a single whole, it still forms a very important part of the Institute's collection. Without that material further research on the taxonomic groups examined by T.S. Tschitscherine would have been unthinkable.

O.L. Kryzhanovsky