About Institute

The Zoological Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences is the leading research institution in Russia in various fields of zoology (animal science). It carries out research on biodiversity and taxonomy of animals, evolutionary morphology, freshwater, marine and hypersaline ecosystems, life cycles of parasitic organisms and host-parasite interactions, behavior and migration of terrestrial animals. The Institute conducts intensive field studies all over the world by undertaking marine and land expeditions. In recent decades, the Institute has used innovative approaches in taxonomic and phylogenetic research, including electron and laser confocal microscopy and a large array of molecular genetic methods.

The Zoological Institute includes 12 research labs, one permanent research group, and two field research stations, the White Sea Biological Station Kartesh on the coast of the sub-Arctic White Sea and the Biological Station Rybachy on the Courish Spit (the Baltic coast). Important parts of the Zoological Institute are the Zoological Museum, Core Facilities Centre “Taxon” for molecular genetics and microscope research, which is also accessible to external users, and the IT department. Besides that, the Zoological Institute includes several non-permanent research groups, including those funded by Russian Science Foundation.

The Zoological Institute has one of the largest animal collections, which counts more than 60 million specimens. These specimens were collected by many generations of explorers, including Vitus Bering, Peter Simon Pallas, Alexander Theodor von Middendorff, Nikolay Przhevalsky, Pyotr Kozlov, Nikolay Zarudny, Nikolay Severtzov, and many others. This collection is part of the constitutive infrastructure of the Institute and serves as the basis for research in the field of taxonomy and biodiversity of animals conducted at the Zoological Institute and is constantly expanding. It includes preserved, dry, and mounted specimens, skins, skeletons, eggs, tissue and DNA samples, and many other items. All materials are systematically arranged and catalogued. Over centuries of scientific processing, description and intensive research, the specimens have acquired great historical, scientific and cultural value.

The important part of the Institute is the Zoological Museum. Although its collection is only a small part of the scientific collection of the Zoological Institute, the Zoological Museum boasts the most representative collection of the animal species on display in the World, i.e. about 30,000 specimens from all the major taxa of the animal kingdom. Every year, the museum is visited by tens of thousands of visitors from around the world, which makes it a very important hub for disseminating knowledge about animals.