International School on Marine, Freshwater and Coastal Ecosystems (ISMFCE)

International School on Marine, Freshwater and Coastal Ecosystems (Russia)
Starts: 05/22/2018 5:00PM
Ends: 06/11/2018 3:00PM
Location: Zvenigorod Biological Station, Odintsovsky District, Moscow Region, Russia
Location: White Sea Biological Station, Loukhsky District, Republic of Karelia, Russia

International School on Marine, Freshwater and Coastal Ecosystems will be held May 22 to June 11 at the two major Biological Stations of Lomonosov Moscow State University:

  • Zvenigorod Biological Stations (Central Russia)
  • White Sea Biological Station (Arctic Russia).

DSC01751 It is well known that aquatic ecosystems are some of the most productive ecological systems on Earth and are recognized to be of extremely high “value” to human society. At the same time, they are being threatened by anthropogenic pressure and climate change far greater than terrestrial ecosystems because of multiple and interacting factors. That is why an integrated knowledge on the diversity of aquatic ecosystems and on the principles of their functioning is critical for someone who is interested in ecology and biodiversity.

DSC01728Our school is supervised by MSU academics that conduct active research in their respective fields of biology. We provide students with a unique possibility to study wide range of freshwater, transitional and marine ecosystems with the focus on their comparative analysis. We would demonstrate the importance and relevance of ecosystems approach to the modern ecology and nature management.

fresh water_murmansk regThe school curriculum shall include field excursions, lab activities, lectures and seminars. Students will study methods of biotope description, sampling, identification of samples to the level of species, and biological drawing.

At ZBS, students shall study ecology and biodiversity of the whole range of freshwater-bodies, from temporary ponds to the Moskva River. Students will be able to compare freshwater ecosystems of the Central Russia (ZBS) to ecosystems of the Arctic area (WSBS). The coastal area of WSBS represents mosaic of different biotopes, including water-bodies separated from the sea (meromictic lakes) and estuaries. Students shall study ecology and biodiversity of the intertidal and subtidal zones, sea bottom and water column. They will collect, draw and identify representatives of phyto- and zooplancton, macro- and meiobenthos. They will reconstruct the trophic chains and networks of aquatic ecosystems using the Ecopath software, which allows to:

  • SONY DSCaddress the questions of fundamental ecological science;
  • analyze and evaluate ecosystem effects of human activity;
  • model effect of environmental changes.

By the end of the course, students shall gain insight into complexity and dynamics of aquatic ecosystems on the basis of best available scientific knowledge.

Students shall also be encouraged to perform scientific reports, which will be finally presented at the workshop scheduled for the last day of the School.


Zvenigorod Biological Station is located in Odintsovsky District of Moscow Region. ZBS is only 20 minutes by car from the nearest ancient Russian town of Zvenigorod and in approximately two hours drive from the Moscow city. The campus of the Biostation is on the bank of the Moskva-river, and several hundreds of hectares of forest belonging to the University adjoin it.

The White Sea Biological Station is located on the coast of Kandalaksha Gulf of the White Sea, close to the Polar Circle (literally 20 minutes walk from it). This station is an isolated settlement. There is no regular road, and all communication to the nearest village and railway station Poyakonda (15 km) is possible only by boat during summer navigation, and by snowmobiles in winter. Poyakonda is connected to major cities by train: 21 hours from St. Petersburg (about 1000 km), 30-32 hours from Moscow (about 1600 km), and 8 hours from Murmansk (350 km).

Both Stations are completely equipped to provide whole range of scientific activities, from the “pure” descriptive zoology and botany, to molecular and genomic studies.

Housing and meals

At both biostations, students live in electrically heated wooden dorms. Three hot meals per day plus five o’clock tea shall be offered at both stations.


If you need a visa to enter Russia, please take care of getting the correct type. Please contact us so that we assist and issue the appropriate formal invitation according to legal procedures in force in Russia. The whole procedure will take some time, so we require that we have a copy of your passport before May 25, 2016. Please contact us for further details.

Visiting the White Sea Biological Station region without the invitation from Lomonosov Moscow State University is prohibited.

Plan of the School

The capacity of the School is only 20 students. We’ll have to split all students into two groups, ‘A’ and ‘B’. Group A shall start the School by going to WSBS, then it will return to ZBS. Group B shall do the same in a mirror way: forst visit ZBS, and then go to WSBS. Both groups shall meet twice: at WSBS for a few hours, and at ZBS for the closing seminar.

Students shall go to WSBS and back by train, and the will get to ZBS by bus. Further details shall be made available later. Both groups shall always be accompanied by LMSU group leaders.

It is possible to come to only one part of the School, and then it will be ZBS part. It is not possible to come to WSBS part only, we are sorry.

Students are expected to arrive to Moscow before May 22, 5:00PM. Latecomers most likely shall go to the Group B.


Please contact us and apply at

Field Course in Embryology of Marine Invertebrates

The White Sea Biological station of the Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University offers 3-week field course in embryology of marine invertebrates (13 June – 03 July 2016)

phyllodoceThe Course will be lab-oriented with daily lectures on various aspects of invertebrate development. Students will learn the methods of culturing of marine invertebrates and will be taught how to document the development using traditional illustration techniques and digital photography and video. The students will also carry out simple individual projects on development of a particular species. The main goals of the individual projects are to demonstrate various methods and approaches in experimental embryology such as immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy and pharmacological modulation. We plan to study the development of approximate 35 species from 10 invertebrate phyla (Porifera; Cnidaria; Annelida; Mollusca; Lophophorata; Nemertea; Arthropoda; Nematoda; Echinodermata; Tunicata). All species are easy accessible in close vicinity of the station and can be collected either in the intertidal one or by the scuba divers.

Field Course in Embryology of Marine Invertebrates
Starts: 06/13/2016 9:00AM
Ends: 07/07/2016 3:00PM
Location: White Sea Biological Station, Loukhi District, Murmansk Region, Russia


  • Carmen Andrikou (Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology, NORWAY)
  • Lev Beloussov (Dept. of Embryology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Nataliya Budaeva (University Museum of Bergen, NORWAY)
  • Alexander Ereskovsky (Station marine d’Endoume, Aix-Marseille Université, FRANCE; Dept. of Embryology, Saint-Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)
  • Grigory Genikhovich (Dept. of Molecular Evolution and Development, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA)
  • Andreas Hejnol (Sars International Center for Marine Molecular Biology, NORWAY)
  • Yulia Khramova (Dept. of Embryology, MSU, RUSSIA)i>
  • Igor Kosevich (Lab. of Developmental Biology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Olga Kotenko (Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, St. Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)
  • Yulia Kraus (Dept. of Evolutionary Biology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Stanislav Kremnyov (Dept. Of Embryology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Andrey Lavrov (Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Vladimir Malakhov (Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Mark Martindale (The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience&Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, University of Florida, USA)
  • Denis Nikishin (Group of Embryophysiology; Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology, RUSSIA)
  • Andrey Ostrovsky (Dept. of Paleontology, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA & Department of Invertebrate Zoology, St Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)
  • Andrey Prudkovsky (Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Nadezhda Rimskaya-Korsakova (Dept. of Invertebrate Zoology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Maria Semenova (Dept. of Embryology, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Alexander Tzetlin (WSBS, MSU, RUSSIA)
  • Andreas Wanninger (Dept. of Integrative Zoology, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA)

The White Sea Biological Station is located on the wild and scenic coast of Kandalaksha Bay of the White Sea (66° 34′ N, 33° 08′ E) exactly on the Polar Circle. It is a remote and isolated academic settlement accessible only by boat from the nearest village Poyakonda. Station facilities comprise a number of recently upgraded laboratories with recirculating seawater system and cLSM. The station has good diving facilities and a fleet of motorboats and small vessels designed for benthic and pelagic sampling.

Applications are invited preferably from graduate students however well qualified undergraduate student as well as post-docs and researches interested in embryology of marine invertebrates that recently started their career, may also apply.

For detailed descriptions of the application process and course fees please visit: or

Program of winter entomology (IWES)

This course description relates to International Winter Ecology School

Though snowy winter seems to be inappropriate season for insect activity, some insect species have evolved adaptations to these adverse conditions. During this course students will be introduced to the very special branch of insect science, the “winter entomology”.

During the most part of the course we will try to find winter-living insects.

First of all, there are insects, which are specialized for living above the snow. Among the most well-known Central Russia species of this type are genera Boreus (Mecoptera: Boreidae) (Fig. 1), Chionea (Diptera: Limoniidae) (Fig. 2) and dipterous family Trichoceridae (winter craneflies). All of them inhabit Zvenigorod Biological Station and can be collected in the case of the appropriate weather and if you are lucky.

Second, even during the frostiest periods of winter, the temperature under the snow remains relatively high allowing the organisms to stay active. That is why we will set up the under-snow traps to catch the under-snow insects (and, probably, some other arthropods). Insects collected by these traps will be identified.

Third, many insects hibernating during the winter can be found under the tree crusts, stones and other shelters. During extremely warm thaws they even can wake up and can be encountered on the snow.

At last, during the winter we can observe different traces of other seasons’ insect activity: cut leaves, larvae “roads” in the wood and so on. Thus, the main part of the course will consist of excursions during which we will observe insect activity visible in winter.

Besides excursions, we will give a lecture on insect adaptations to winter conditions.

Individual student project:

  1. Under-snow life in different environments.

    The ecosystem of Zvenigorod Biological Station consists of many types of communities including the grasslands and different forests. Little is known about the differences in their under-snow arthropod inhabitants. To assess these differences we will collect winter-active insects using the under-snow traps in different communities, identify them and compare the species compositions and abundances.

Program of winter hydrobiology course (IWES)

This course description relates to International Winter Ecology School

Introductory lecture: Hydrobiology of freshwater reservoirs in a seasonal climate.

Topic 1. Acquaintance with a diversity of freshwater invertebrates.

Lecture: The main groups of freshwater invertebrates: benthos, plankton, nekton, pleuston. Differences between Palearctic and Nearctic fauna on the family level.

Excursion: Sterliajiy creek (ZBS) and springs near the village Tuchkovo.

Lab: Identification of freshwater invertebrates to the family level.

Topic 2. Acquaintance with the sample collection methods.

Lecture: Differences in the quantitative and qualitative sample collection methods. The concepts of the density, production and biomass.

Excursion: Collection of samples from the Moscow River by dredging.

Lab: Analysis of the samples collected

Topic 3. Evolution of the major groups of freshwater invertebrates.

Lecture: Evolution of freshwater invertebrate fauna: protoaquatic organisms and the descendants of terrestrial animals; different types of breathing and life cycles.

Lab: Analysis of the samples collected, acquaintance with the typical anatomical structures of freshwater invertebrates and observation of living organisms.

Topic 4. Freshwater invertebrates communities.

Lecture: Different approaches to determination of the spatial boundaries between freshwater benthic communities

Excursion: Springs near the village Tuchkovo. Students will be split into the several groups for collecting the qualitative and quantitative samples along the sampling transects running from the source to the mouth of each creeks.

Lab: Analysis of the samples collected and discussing the characteristic features of communities found in the creeks.

Topic 5. The methods and approaches of bioindication based on the diversity of freshwater invertebrates.

Lecture: The history of bioindication. The bioindicative systems using in hydrobiology. The concepts of the saprobity system, of the trophic state index and of the pollution. Anthropogenic pressure influencing fresh-water ecosystems, the potencies of ecosystems to self-restoration.

Excursion: Collection of samples from the Moscow River by dredging.

Lab: Analysis of the samples collected, application of the main bioindicative indexes.

Individual student projects:

  1. The study of spatial variability of freshwater invertebrate communities inhabiting the non-freezing springs.
  2. Even in the middle of winter large springs do not freeze. All year round, water pours from beneath the earth with the temperature around +4C. The inhabitants of these springs never experience the summer heat and winter cold and form communities unlike any other.
  3. The project involves the collection of qualitative and quantitative samples from the springs of Tuchkovo area, identification of the species collected and description of the spring invertebrate communities.
  4. Characterization of the faunal composition of the communities in the soft soils of the Moscow River covered with ice.
  5. In summer, the river bed is covered with thickets of aquatic plants. In autumn, when ice covers the surface and the river bed is plunged into darkness, aquatic plants die transforming the river bed into a desert. However, life doesn’t stop there.
  6. The project involves the collection of quantitative samples from below the river ice by dredging, analysis of these samples, identification of invertebrate species and characterization of the spatial structure of invertebrate communities.

Program of “Plants under the snow” course (IWES)

This course description relates to International Winter Ecology School


  • Snow. Is it source or solution of plant’s problems? Why do terrestrial plants drop their leaves in autumn?
  • Evergreen trees and shrubs in temperate and cold climates. The diversity of adaptations, which allow these plants to survive the cold snowy winter.
  • Plants under the snow. Unexpectedly high diversity of the evergreen and wintergreen species of terrestrial plants.
  • The role of buds in the survival of plants inhabiting the regions with temperate or cold climates: protection of shoot tips against the negative temperatures and dehydration.
  • Different types of buds and their structure: scaly and naked buds, vegetative, reproductive and mixed buds. How plants with the naked buds do survive in temperate climate? What can we learn about the plant evolution studying the plants during the winter?
  • Anatomy of reproductive buds containing the developing flowers or inflorescences.
  • The methods and approaches of the winter plant identification: using the bud and bark morphology and anatomy.
  • Anatomy of a plant stem. The periderm and the bark structure. Morpho-anatomical and functional adaptations of the stem of woody plants evolved in cold climate. Do they differ from the adaptations of subtropical plants?

Day 1

Field excursion: trees and shrubs in the cold snowy winter.
Laboratory study of buds, their structure and their role in the winter plant identification.

Day 2

Field excursion: plants under the snow. The snow will be removed from several grounds to collect evergreen and wintergreen plants for laboratory study. Laboratory study of the leaves of evergreen herbaceous and woody plants and wintergreen herbaceous plants will be performed. The aim is to study anatomical features and functional adaptations to the low temperatures and dehydration.

Day 3

Workshop on the following subjects: Anatomy of the plant stem, Anatomical characteristics, which provide the survival of plants in winter.
Laboratory study of the stem anatomy in the herbaceous and woody plants will be performed. The structure of the wood, vessels and bark will be analyzed. How do the plants defend themselves against the dehydration?

Individual student projects:

  1. Anatomical features of the leaf and the bark, which help plants to survive.

    How do evergreen plants survive under the snow? What kind of changes occurs in the plant structures during the transformation of a young individual into the mature plant, which cannot hide itself under the snow?

    Description of the project: Students are aimed to perform a detailed description of the gross anatomy and tissue structure of the leaf, bark and wood of the woody and herbaceous plants. They will pay special attention to the structure of the cell wall in the epidermis, chlorenchima and phellema. They will learn how to distinguish between the different ecological groups of plants. They will find and describe anatomical structures, which help plants to survive during winter.

  2. Floral development and plant behavior.

    There are a lot of plants, flowering in spring. What kind of buds do they have? Do they have completely formed flowers inside the buds or they have to complete formation of flowers before the flowering in spring?

    Description of the project: Students are aimed to characterize the morphology and inner structure of plant buds. They will identify the primordia of the stem, leaf and flower in the buds of species, which belong to different ecological groups. They will also describe the specific features of floral structures in the buds of plants flowering in spring.

Program of vertebrate zoology course (IWES)

This course description relates to International Winter Ecology School

WoodpeckerSnow is often referred to as a «white book». During winter months and period of the stable snow layer all terrestrial activity of mammals and birds can be tracked by signs they leave on snow. One of the aims of vertebrate zoology course is to learn the ability of finding and reading these signs. We will study the main features of winter ecology and behavior of different mammals that active in cold season – from small rodents and shrews to carnivores (such as different mustelids) and ungulates (wild boars and elks). The method of tracking the mammal behavior on the basis on such signs was one of few that allowed collecting precise information about wild mammals before the era of digital cameras and radio tracking and it is still have great importance and can be used also for the mammal counts.
During excursions, we will discuss the interactions between animals (birds and mammals) and their food bases during winter. We will study the methods of catching the prey by raptors and carnivore animals, methods of finding the hibernating insects and spiders by small birds, the animal’s habits of food storage. School participants will carry out an experimental work to study the abilities of insectivorous birds to find well hidden food.

Hare tracesSocial behavior of birds during winter months differs greatly from their habits during breeding period. We will discuss nomadic and resident habits of different bird species, interspecific and intraspecific interactions including winter territoriality and forming of mixed flocks. School participants will study social hierarchy in small passerine birds observing individuals with color marks. We will discuss how birds can use winter months for preparation to breeding.

The course includes lections and seminars where we will compare birds and mammals habits in different parts of the world with seasonal climate (including comparison between temperate and tropical forests), discuss features of social behavior of wintering birds and mammals.

Hazelgrouse tracesIndividual student projects:

  1. Tracking the titmice flocks and mapping their winter territories
  2. Mapping the mammal tracks to study their winter activity
  3. Observing the food searching techniques of the titmice
  4. Studying the winter food preferences of the elks (counting trees with and without traces of the elk teeth)
  5. Observing the interspecific interactions among the birds at the food table
  6. The counts of mammals using their tracks on snow
  7. Experimental studying of the food searching techniques of the titmice

IWEC Schedule, Location

Here is our tentative schedule for IWESchool. Please do contact us before scheduling your flights or planning to extend/alter the purpose of your stay!

October, 1 – Application deadline. Please notice however that the capacity of the School is limited anyway (25 students).

October, 25 – Visa application deadline. This is a deadline if (1) you need Russian visa, (2) you apply directly through our office. For some countries deadline is two weeks later: please, do check it with us.

January, 10 – Students arrive to Moscow and go to the Faculty of Biology. We then shall arrange a bus transfer to Zvenigorod Biological Station at about 17:00.

January, 11 – Safety instructions, introductory lectures, first field excursions.

January, 12-16 – Lectures, excursions, seminars.

January 17 – Final workshop (aka Conference). Transfer to Moscow after lunch.

IWES will be at Zvenigorod Biological Station (ZBS). It is the oldest biological station of the Faculty of Biology, LMSU, founded in very the beginning of the XX century. The history of the ZBS deserves a special story, and students will be able to visit its Museum and to learn it’s connections to several famous Russian scientists and even… Anton Chekhov! The Station is located in a beautiful surroundings of the old Russian town of Zvenigorod with its enchanting Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Yes, those interested will be certainly able to have a look at the attractions.

ZBS dormitoryThe Station itself is surrounded by forests of a Natural reserve – in only 2 hours from Moscow by car! It has good mobile network coverage, which makes use smartphones, tablets and notebooks comfortable. Three hot meals per day will be offered, plus we have a little caffeteria with fresh pastries.

Assistance with airport transfers, inland transfers, lodging at the Biological Station, and an excursion to Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery shall be included.

Ask a question or apply now:

International Winter Ecological School (IWES)

ZBS area13

International Winter Ecological School (Moscow, Russia)
Starts: 01/02/2018 5:00PM
Ends: 01/16/2018 8:00PM
Location: Zvenigorod Biological Station, Odintsovsky District, Moscow Region, Russia

We are pleased to offer the International Winter Ecological School, which will be held at the Moscow State University’s Zvenigorod Biological Station (Central Russia), January 2-16, 2018. Under the supervision of MSU scientists, the IWES stidents shall study the challenges of life in winter and the mechanisms of adaptation of different taxa of plants and animals to the winter environment. The IWES includes courses of Winter Zoology of Vertebrates, Winter Biology of High Plants, Winter Hydrobiology and Winter Entomology, each of them consisting of field excursions, lab activity and lectures. Students shall also be encouraged to perform own scientific projects, which will be finally presented at the workshop scheduled for the last day of IWES.

Snow is often referred to as a «White Book». During winter months, all terrestrial activity of mammals and birds can be tracked by the signs they leave on the snow. During the course of Winter Zoology of Vertebrates, School participants will gain the ability to find and read these birds’ and mammals’ tracks. We together will study winter ecology and behavior of different mammals – from small rodents and shrews to carnivores (e.g. mustelids) and ungulates (wild boars and elks). We will also study winter-specific modes of birds’ social behavior including fascinating interactions between different species. School participants will study social hierarchy in populations of small passerine birds observing individuals with the color marks. During the lectures and seminars, we will discuss and compare birds’ and mammals’ habits in different parts of the world with seasonal climate as well as social behavior of wintering birds and mammals.

ducks_Moskva-riverWinter looks like a completely inappropriate season for the insect activity, doesn’t it? However, there are several options to survive during this hard season, and we will study adaptations of insects allowing them not only to sustain their lives but to stay active, as well! During the course of Winter Entomology, we will collect insects, which have specialized for active life above and under the snow as well as hibernating insects. We will also observe the traces of season-specific insect’s activity. All insects will be identified in the lab. Besides excursions, the lectures on the insect’s adaptations are scheduled.

winter forest 14The course of Winter Hydrobiology aims to demonstrate that species inhabiting water environment do not stop their activities during the cold season. We will collect planctonic and bentic organisms from the water bodies covered with thick layer of ice: the Moskva River, the lake Glubokoye and some smaller ponds. In the lab, we will analyze the probes to investigate winter-specific features of freshwater communities of invertebrates. Students will also perform some experiments in water toxicology.

The course Winter Biology of Higher Plants shall focus on morphological, anatomical and physiological adaptations of plants allowing them to survive during the cold season. We will study the role of the snow in the survival of higher plants, the unexpectedly increased diversity of evergreen and wintergreen species of land plants. We will study the plant bud as a specific adaptation to protect shoot tips against low temperature and dehydration. The School participants will discover how one can learn much more about the higher plants evolution during the winter than during the summer. They also will be able to identify plants in the winter forest. During the seminars and lectures we will discuss morphological and anatomical features of the plants adapted to the cold season and compare them with the features of subtropical plants.