December 5, 2016 – March 31, 2019
It has been two years since Lake Baikal Foundation started to support one of the key projects of Scientific Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University – a long-term ecological monitoring program on lake Baikal entitled «Point No1».
Due to the reassignment of state allocations for science in favor of short-term competitive projects, «Point No1» was on the verge of closing due to underfunding.
The project has been put on the Guinness Book of World Records list as the most long-lasting regular environmental monitoring project in history of science: the project has been conducted without interruptions for over 70 years. The monitoring program was launched by world famous researcher of the lake Professor Mikhail Kozhov in February 1945. The survey implies taking samples of phyto- and zooplankton, measuring the pelagic zone (the water column). All data are recorded in a unique database which represents an array of valuable information for scientific community. Monitoring data is also included into the annual state report «The State of Lake Baikal and Measures for its Protection» issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation.
Despite the fact that the major part of the Lake Baikal environmental monitoring is carried out by authorized state bodies, historically, they were the experts of Scientific Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University who made sophisticated analysis of species composition of phyto- and zooplankton. Over five million records have been accumulated reflecting the weekly condition of the Lake Baikal pelagial ecosystem throughout seven decades.
Such kind of research is essential for monitoring the condition of lake Baikal because the quality of its water is defined for 90% by plankton. As plankton’s quantitive and qualitative characteristics are constantly changing, it is necessary to provide permanent monitoring and sampling. Only thanks to such long-lasting research which are being held for decades, it is possible to detect important trends of the Baikal’s ecosystem. Сonsidering invaluable importance of «Point No1» for studying and saving Baikal, the Foundation provided financial assistance to the project.
- to prevent the unique scientific research «Point No1» of Scientific Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University from closing and to provide regular data about the Baikal’s ecosystem;
- to contribute to the development of the project and to its technical fit-out.
- to provide grant assistance to Scientific Research Institute of Biology at Irkutsk State University for implementing «Point No1» project;
- as a part of assistance to continue annual sample collection in lake Baikal.
What has been done:
- the grant in 2017 amounted to 2 million rubles, in 2018 – 1.5 million rubles. Grant funds are spent on salaries for project staff, as well as on its technical support. In 2018, it is expected that the technical support will be organized at the expense of ISU;
- regular sampling is conducted once in two weeks since February 1945 at «pelagic station No1» (so-called «Point No1»). The station is situated on the Southern Baikal near the settlement Bolshyie Koty at 2,7 km distance from the coast. Every 7-10 days the scientists collect samples of phyto- and zooplankton. Then the sample go to labs where they are put under microscope. After detailed analysis information about more than 700 forms of zooplankton and more than 400 forms of phytoplankton is keyed into a single base.
- by the results of 72-years research the scientists spotted the following trends:
- decreasing number of microcellular endemic Baikal subglacial algae and endemic subglacial Baikal rotifers;
- increasing number of cosmopolite small-celled algae and cosmopolite summer rotifers;
- biodiversity of subglacial algae is related with temperature of water under ice – the lower the temperature, the more endemic species of algae develops there, and vice versa: the higher the temperature, the more cosmopolites are there;
- following the results of the project in 2016, the data were included for the first time in the State of the Climate report, published by the American Meteorological Society;
- following the results of the project in 2017, the data were included in the State of the Climate report 2017 for the second year in a row;
- the results of monitoring are important for understanding the processes of lake Baikal ecosystem and its reaction to global climate change.
What will be done:
- monitoring of plankton will be continued to confirm the emerging trends. Data and samples collected this year will be processed in the second half of the year 2019.