The history of Limnological Institute goes back to October 1928, when the Baikal Limnological Station was founded. It was the first scientific institution within the Academy of Sciences to be established in Siberia. According to Decree No.49 of January 20, 1961, the Station was reorganized into Limnological Institute of the Siberian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
The first Director of the Station was Gleb Yu. Vereshchagin, and the first Director of Limnological Institute was Grigory I. Galazy.
To date, Limnological Institute has the staff of 331employees, numbering 180 researchers, including 101 under the age of 39. Among the members of the Institute’s staff there is Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 16 doctors of sciences and 103 candidates of sciences of various disciplines.
The structure of Limnological Institute includes one department, 12 laboratories, research fleet (5 vessels) and equipment necessary for collecting samples of Baikal organisms, water and bottom sediments. The Institute possesses advanced scientific facilities for the analysis of samples using methods of molecular biology, classical and molecular microbiology, gas and liquid chromatography, mass-spectrometry and transmission and scanning electron microscopy.
Limnological Institute carries out comprehensive interdisciplinary studies of Lake Baikal and other aquatic ecosystems of Siberia. The main scientific goals of the Institute are to obtain new knowledge and apply it in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, geology and geography, and to perform fundamental investigations aiming at understanding the processes of formation and functioning of aquatic ecosystems, diversity and evolution of aquatic organisms and mechanisms of biological speciation.
The main research areas of Limnological Institute are:
- Limnology: mechanisms of speciation, biodiversity and evolution of lake ecosystems;
- Current state and prospects of development of inland water bodies and streams;
- Live ecosystems: comprehensive studies of hydrobionts using methods of classical and molecular biology and interdisciplinary sciences.
The most significant results achieved in fundamental studies:
- Ascertainment of the cause of mass mortality of Baikal seals: virus epizootic which resulted in significant mortality of Baikal seals (6,000 seals died in 1987-1988) was caused by the canine distemper virus; it was proved for the first time;
- Reconstruction of the Baikal sedimentary paleoclimate records for the last 8 Myr and reconstruction of sub-recent climatic records; continuous long paleoclimate records of the continent could be obtained only from Lake Baikal; all the results were pioneering; the investigations were performed in wide cooperation between foreign and Russian researchers;
- The system of search indicators for detection of underwater occurrence of methane hydrates: thick deposits of gas hydrates were recorded for the first time in the freshwater Lake Baikal.