Учебно-научная база «Беломорская» » Three-spined stickleback as a key component of the White Sea ecosystem Учебно-научная база «Беломорская»

Three-spined stickleback as a key component of the White Sea ecosystem

QWihpJvCsK0At present, the threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus is the most numerous fish of the White Sea, which amass inshore to spawn in the summer. It plays a key role in marine ecosystems, linking the lower and upper trophic levels and carrying out horizontal transfer of matter and energy between inshore and offshore zones. It wasn’t always like that. In the 1960-1990s this fish was almost absent in the White Sea. The populations started to grow since the late 1990s, being now at about the same high level of numbers that was observed in the 1930s when it was at historical maximum. Periods of high stickleback abundance coincide with warm periods. The stickleback is a very convenient object for research, because its abundance is easy to estimate, it is not an object of commercial fishing, it easily tolerates manipulations and experimental conditions, it has been well studied and allows a wide range of studies, being very convenient for student projects.
Our project, which began in 2006, aims at a comprehensive study of stickleback and its role in the marine ecosystem, and is ultimately aimed at improving our understanding of the dynamics of marine ecosystems. We study changes in the numbers of sticklebacks in the seasonal and interannual aspects, its spatial distribution on the scale of the entire White Sea, the Keret Archipelago and very small water areas. We also study the temporal and spatial variability of stickleback, its diet and its role in feeding of other organisms, the age, size and sex structure of the population, the composition of lipids and fatty acids, behavior and migration, the composition of parasites, morphological characteristics and fluctuating asymmetry, genetic variation and the composition of chemical elements in different tissues. The results obtained to date allow us to identify the most promising directions for further research.




employees and students of SPBU

Demchuk Anna

Golovin Pavel

Ivanov Mikhail

Ivanova Tatiana

Lajus Dmitry

Polyakova Natalia

Yurtseva Anastasiia

Zelenskaia (Bakhvalova) Anastasiia

Kondakova Ekaterina – Dept. of Embryology of SPBU

Nadtochii Ekaterina

Saveliev Pavel

Smirnova Kseniia

Employees of external organizations

Artamonova Valentina – A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS, Moscow

Genelt-Yanovskiy Evgeniy – Zoological Institute RAS, Saint Petersburg

Kucheryavyy Aleksander – A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS, Moscow

Makhrov Aleksander – A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS, Moscow

Murzina Svetlana – Karelian Research Centre RAS, Petrozavodsk

Yurtseva Anastasiia – Zoological Institute RAS, Saint Petersburg


Lajus D.L., Golovin P.V., Bakhvalova A.E., Demchuk A.S., Dorgham A.S., Ivanov M.V., Ivanova T.S., Murzina S.A., Polyakova N.V., Rybkina E.V., Yurtseva A.O. In press, 2020. Three-spined stickleback of the White Sea: population characteristics and role in the ecosystem. Contemporary Problems of Ecology. [in Russian]
Murzina S. A., Nefedova Z. A., Pekkoeva S. N., Voronin V. P.,Lajus D. L, Ivanova T. S., Nemova N. N. Lipid and Fatty Acid Status of the Liver and Gonads of the Three-Spined Stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus (Gastrosteidae) from Different Spawning Grounds in the White Sea // Biology Bulletin. 2019. Vol. 46, N. 1. P. 82-91. [in Russian
Murzina S. A, Nefedova Z. A., Pekkoeva S. N., Lajus D. L., Nemova N. N. Fatty Acids of the Three-Spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) from the White Sea // Applied Biochemistry and Microbiology. 2019, Vol. 55, No. 1. P. 73-77. [in Russian]
Yurtseva A., Noreikiene K., Lajus D., Li Z., Alapassi., Ivanova T., Ivanov M., Golovin P., Vesаla S., Merila J. 2019. Aging three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus: comparison of estimates from three structures. Journal of Fish Biology 95(3): 802-811 (doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14071).
Golovin, P. V., Bakhvalova, A. E., Ivanov, M. V., Ivanova, T. S., Smirnova, K. A., & Lajus, D. L. (2019). Sex-biased mortality of marine threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) during their spawning period in the White Sea. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 20(3), 279-295.
Ivanova, T. S., Ivanov, M. V., Bakhvalova, A. E., Polyakova, N. V., Golovin, P. V., Kucheryavyy, A. V., Yurtseva, A.O., Smirnova, K.A. Lajus, D. L. (2019). Homing ability and site fidelity of marine threespine stickleback on spawning grounds. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 20(3), 297-315.
Lajus, D. L., Golovin, P. V., Yurtseva, A. O., Ivanova, T. S., Dorgham, A. S., & Ivanov, M. V. (2019). Fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of stress and fitness in stickleback: a review of the literature and examination of cranial structures. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 20(1), 83-106.
Yurtseva A., Lüskow F., Hatton M., Doucet A., Lajus D. 2018. Finfish vs jellyfish: complimentary feeding patterns allow threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus and common jellyfish Aurelia aurita to co‑exist in a Danish cove. Marine Biology 165(9), 14810.1007/s0022 7-018-3407-y).
Rybkina, E. V., Ivanova, T. S., Ivanov, M. V., Kucheryavyy, A. V., & Lajus, D. L. (2017). Habitat preference of three-spined stickleback juveniles in experimental conditions and in wild eelgrass. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 97(7), 1437-1445.
Bakhvalova, A.E., Ivanova, T.S., Ivanov, M.V., Demchuk, A.S., Movchan, E.A., Lajus, D.L. 2016. Long-term changes in the role of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in the White Sea: predatory fish consumption reflects fluctuating stickleback abundance during the last century. Evolutionary Ecology Research, 17: 317-334.
Rybkina E.V., Demchuk A.S. Lajus D.L. Ivanova T.S. Ivanov M.V. Galaktionov K.V. 2016. Dynamics of parasite community during early ontogenesis of marine threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. Evolutionary ecology research 17 (3): 335-354. http://evolutionaryecology.
Ivanova, T.S., Ivanov, M.V., Golovin, P.V., Polyakova, N.V., Lajus, D.L. The White Sea Threespine stickleback population: spawning habitats, mortality and abundance// Evolutionary Ecology Research, 2016, 17: 301-315.
Demchuk A.S, Ivanov M.V., Ivanova T.S., Polaykova N.V., Mas-Marti E., Lajus D.L. 2015. Feeding patterns in seagrass beds of three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus juveniles at different growth stages. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 95 (8): 1635-1643.
Lajus D.L., Ivanova T.S., Shatskich E.V., Ivanov M.V. 2013. “Waves of life” of the White Sea stickleback. Priroda, 4: 43-52. [in Russian]


RSF #19-14-00092 “”Wasp waist” of the ecosystems of the northern seas: long-term dynamics, population structure, trophic links of common pelagic species of the White and Barents Seas”. The leader – Lajus D.L.
RFBR #18-04-01052 А “Threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus as a link between the insore and offshore communities of the White Sea”. The leader – Ivanov M.V.
RFBR #18-34-00914 мол_а “Sex ratio in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus L.) of the White Sea as an indicator of the species’ adaptability to environmental changes”. The leader – Golovin P.V.
RFBR #17-34-50158 мол_нр “Study of trophic links of the three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus L. in the White Sea ecosystem: the role of fatty acids in the transfer of matter and energy”. The leader – Murzina S.A.

Collaboration with external organizations

A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution RAS, Moscow
Zoological Institute RAS, Saint Petersburg
Karelian Research Centre RAS, Petrozavodsk
University of Padova
University of Helsinki

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