With the support of Lake Baikal Foundation, the working group of the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IEE RAS) developed and approved a comprehensive scientific Baikal seal Research Program for 2020-2025 under the lead of V.V. Rozhnov. Scientists from the Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography (VNIRO) and its Baikal branch, as well as the Federal Research Center of Fundamental and Translational Medicine (FRC FTM) also participated in the development of the Program. The Programs aims at:
- studying the current state of the Baikal seal population as an endemic to the fauna of Lake Baikal and an indicator species of the state of Lake Baikal;
- creation of a scientific basis to ensure effective conservation of the biodiversity of Lake Baikal.
The Program considers the main directions and priority tasks on which the attention of zoologists studying the Baikal seal is focused:
I. The use of the water area and coastline of Lake Baikal by the Baikal seal, its key habitats, and population size.
II. The well-being of the Baikal seal population (including genetic, serological, virological, hormonal, toxicological, and other studies, as well as the study of nutrition, demographic structure, fertility, and mortality).
III. The state of habitats of the Baikal seal (assessment of the quality of the habitat).
All studies of the Baikal seal under the Program will be carried out using only non-invasive and minimally invasive methods that cause no or minimal damage to each animal and the population. The Program corresponds to the international and national standards, requirements, agreements, and conventions related to the protection and conservation of the Baikal seal and its habitat.
The results of research carried out under the Program will be transferred to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation and regional authorities to take government action concerning the Baikal seal. The joint work of scientists, non-profit organizations, and legislative bodies contributes to the competent development of the environmental protection measures with maximum benefit for a unique species.
The Baikal seal Research Program for 2020-2025 is publicly available via the link (Russian only).