Evolutionary and taxonomic diversity of marine invertebrates

Check the course details and apply before February, 29 2020 here. You are welcome to contact Anna Gonchar: anya.gonchar@gmail.com if you have any questions.


This international course welcomes participants to take a unique insight into a variety of aspects of marine invertebrates’ biodiversity. This course has been specifically designed on the basis on long-term experience to meet emerging challenges of modern life sciences. The in-campus intro provides a quick dive into the topic and all the necessary basic knowledge. The fieldwork on the White Sea is a core part of the course. By entering this adventure you will:


  • obtain deep understanding of current views on Tree of Life and invertebrates’ evolution;
  • build solid knowledge of invertebrate biodiversity, from phyla to species level;
  • understand how marine communities are structured and function;
  • master various methods related to sample collection, processing and analysis;
  • specifically focus on invertebrate fauna in Arctic seas through fieldwork on the White Sea;
  • learn from experienced instructors with extensive scientific and educational expertise;
  • gain additional competitive advantage for future career;
  • visit one of the oldest zoology departments located in the beautiful city of St Petersburg.


Please find detailed course programme here.


Admission is competitive based on educational background and motivation essay. Acceptance decisions will be announced before 1 March 2018. We look forward to seeing you as our student!


The course fee including tuition, accommodation and return travel between St Petersburg and the White Sea is estimated at €750 (note that the price is now reduced by €200 thanks to support from SPbU!).


You are welcome to contact Anna Gonchar: anya.gonchar@gmail.com if you have any questions.

International Summer School on Bryozoa

International Summer School on Bryozoa:

Diversity and evolutionary trends in colonial animals

Dates and place: 18-31 August, 2018; Educational and Research station “Belomorskaya” (SPbSU), White Sea


Tentative list of instructors:
Olga Kotenko (Department of Invertebrate Zoology, St. Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)
Piotr Kuklinski (Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Sciences, POLAND)
Andrey Ostrovsky (Department of Paleontology, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA & Department of Invertebrate Zoology, St Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)
Joanne S. Porter (Heriot-Watt University, SCOTLAND, UNITED KINGDOM)

Natalia Shunatova (Department of Invertebrate Zoology, St. Petersburg State University, RUSSIA)


Course scope:

The main objective of the course is to demonstrate biodiversity and evolutionary trends in Bryozoans as an example of colonial animals basing on various aspects of their biology, morphology and evolution, as well as their role in the freshwater and marine environment. The course is intended for those who wish to expand their knowledge of bryozoans.



Target group: Master and PhD students and young postdoctoral researchers.

Course description:

During the school we plan daily lectures and an extensive field work, including boat and ship trips to diverse habitats. The lectures will address various theoretical questions in bryozoan biology, morphology, development, systematics, phylogeny and evolution. Special attention will be paid to the general principles of struture in colonial invertebrates as well as common and specific traits of colony organization in all major bryozoan groups. We will examine all three bryozoan classes – gymnolaemataes, stenolaemates and phylactolaemates and explore the diversity within them based on the rich biota of various marine and freshwater habitats in the vicinity of Research and Educational Station of SPbSU at the White Sea. We will learn different sample techniques and methods of bryozoan cultivating in the lab. Special attention will be given to the complex morphological characters, variability in colony shape and color, zooid’s exoskeleton and presence of polymorphic zooids. Students will learn how to use classical zoological illustration techniques to document bryozoan traits. Students will also have the opportunity to learn how to get the larvae and trace the early development, settlement, metamorphosis and colony budding of selected species. We plan to discuss species-specific substrate preferences and inter- and intraspecific space competitions. During the school, the students will do small experiments and prepare a small report for discussion in the class.

All planned activities will be made basing on reach and diverse bryozoan fauna of the White Sea as well as an extensive museum collection including both total preparations of bryozoan colonies from various habitats of Russian Arctic and slide preparation of adult zooids and larvae of various species.


Learning outcomes
Upon completing the course the students will:

  • have an idea of basic principles of colony organization in invertebrates
  • know specific traits of colony organization in different bryozoan classes
  • know morphological characters and functions of different zooid types
  • know modern Bryozoa system and taxonomic structure of major groups
  • know features of bryozoan distribution in marine and freshwater habitats
  • be able to collect samples in nature and deal with living animals in the lab
  • be able to identify bryozoans to the species or genus level using a key
  • be able to recognize common bryozoan species


Educational and Research station “Belomorskaya” has well equipped laboratory and accommodation facilities. This field station is located on one of the islands of Keret Archipelago and is surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
Preliminary programme
The course will be given in English. No textbook is required.
Course fee:

  • Local transfer at the White Sea and lodging: ~18500 RUB (~250 €)
  • Board: ~7000 RUB (~105 )
  • Return train to the White Sea: ~ 6000 RUB (~90 EUR)

Visa: International students are required to have entry visas to travel to the Russian Federation. Russian entry visas can be obtained at a local Russian Embassy or Consulate. All supporting materials will be sent upon acceptance to the course.
Medical Insurance: All students enrolled in the class are obligated to have personal medical insurance including medical evacuation coverage.
For information about the station see http://mbs.spbu.ru/en/contacts/
Application process: please, fill in the following forms and send by e-mail to: natalia.shunatova@gmail.com

  • Application form
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A one-page motivation letter, including description on experience (if any) within the topics covered by the course and research area (the maximum limit of 2500 characters (ca. 250 words) refers to manually typed text (spaces included).
  • A letter of support from a person most familiar with applicant’s work.

Application deadline: extended till 1 March 2018
Acceptance announcement: 2 March 2018
If you have any questions, please contact Natalia Shunatova (natalia.shunatova@gmail.com) or Olga Kotenko (olgakotenko@gmail.com).

3 year

In process

1 year

In process

Information for Students

In process


Marine biological station located on Srednii Island for many years have been an important part of SPbSU infrastructure. It is here the summer practices for students of field faculties take place.

In 1976 – just a year after the station foundation – the first field practice was held here for students of the Faculty of Biology and Soil Sciences, with time becoming an annual event. In years to come student practices became diverse and student’s research topics expanded significantly and now covers wide range of research directions.

II. Educational practice for 2nd year bachelor students (Biology specification) ‘Supraorganismal biosystems’ (‘Hydrobiology’ section)

Period: middle of July, 8 days.
1.  Hydrobiological regime of different water areas of White Sea.
Marine zooplankton
Area: Srednyaya salma or Glubokaya salma strait
Purpose: to get acquainted with structure of marine epi- and hypoplankton and the structure of White Sea pelagic zone.
Main environmental factors: temperature, salinity.
Key words: pelagic zone, plankton, holo- and meroplankton, epi- and hypoplankton, thermocline, halocline, TS-curve.
Marine zoobenthos
Sublittoral benthos
Area: Suhaya salma or Glubokaya salma strait
Purpose: to get acquainted with sublittoral benthic communities structure
Main environmental factors: ‘depth’, particle size distribution of soil
Benthos of lower intertidal community with macrophytes with intensive hydrodynamics and calm conditions
Area: Malyj gorelyj island, Bolshoy Keretskiy road, Suhaya salma strait
Purpose: to get acquainted with structure and distribution of intertidal benthic communities in environmental factors gradient
Main environmental factors: particle size distribution of soil, hydrodynamics intensity, redox potential
Key words: benthos, intertidal zone, particle size distribution of soil, macrophytes, mareographic level, projective cover, reserve, soft sediments, Zostera marina, hydrodynamic activity, redox potential, edificatory species.
2. Hydrobiological regime of different types of continental water bodies.
Lakes and rivers systems of Karelia
Biotic diversity of lakes and rivers systems of Karelia.
Area: Letnyaya river system (lakes, stream)
Purpose: to estimate influence of hydrological regime on planktonic and benthic communities
Main environmental factors: flow rate
Key words: benthos, plankton, lotic and lentic systems
Lake zooplankton.
Area: Letneye lake
Purpose: to get acquainted with structure of pelagic and coastal zooplankton
Main environmental factors: temperature, background hydrodynamics, transparence
Key words: plankton, epi-, meta- and hypolimnion, thermocline, transparence, intertidal zone, pelagic zone, Rotifera, Cladocera, Copepoda, euphotic zone.
Lake zoobenthos.
Area: Letneye lake
Purpose: to get acquainted with zoobenthic structure of different parts of benthic zone.
Main environmental factors: temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration.
Key words: benthos, water vegetation, population, biomass, particle size distribution of sediments.
Cliff bathtubs
Ephemeral water bodies ecosystems
Area: Cliff bathtubs on Cheremshiha and Medyanka islands
Purpose: to get acquainted with characteristic features of physical, chemical and biological regime of cliff bathtubs; to estimate the influence of pH and water mineralization on biotic structure.
Main environmental factors: water bodies morphometry, height above sea level, mineralization, pH
Key words: lotic and lentic systems, plankton, benthos.

Summer Schools