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

Currently threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus is the most abundant fish of the White Sea, forming a mass spawning concentrations in inshore area in the summer. They play a vital role in marine ecosystems, connecting the lower and upper trophic levels, and performing the horizontal transfer of matter and energy from the pelagic to the coastal zone. It was not always the case. In the 1960-1990s, this fish was almost absent in the White Sea, and began to recover since the late 1990s, now it is close to the maximum abundance, observed in the 1930s. Stickleback population growth coincides with the warm periods. Stickleback represents a very convenient object for research, because its abundance can be assessed relatively easily, its commercial significance is negligible at the moment, this species is tolerable to manipulations and experimental conditions, well studied, and allows for a wide range of research, including student projects. Our project, which began about a decade ago, is aimed at a complex study of sticklebacks, their role in the marine ecosystem, and ultimately aims to improve our understanding of the mechanisms of marine ecosystem dynamics. These aims are approached by studying the stickleback population changes in the seasonal and inter-annual aspects, its spatial distribution in different scales: across the entire White Sea, the Keret archipelago, and in small lagoons. We study the temporal and spatial variation in feeding of stickleback and feeding by stickleback, behavior, composition of parasites, morphological characteristics and fluctuating asymmetry, age, size and sex population structure, composition of lipids and fatty acids, genetic variation and composition of chemical elements in different tissues. The results obtained so far allow to identify the most promising directions of further research.


Participants (employees and students of SPbSU)

Demchuk A.S.
Golovin P.V.
Ivanov M.V.
Ivanova T.S.
Lajus D.L.
Polyakova N.V.
Yurtseva A.O.
Zelenskaia A.E.


Golovin PV, Ivanov MV, Ivanova TS, Laius DL.. Determination of the age of three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus L . Vestnik SPBGU, Ser. 3. Issue. 2, pp 47-60. (In Russian), 2015.

Demchuk A.S, Ivanov M.V., Ivanova T.S., Polaykova N.V., Mas-Marti E., Lajus D.L.. Feeding patterns in seagrass beds of three-spined stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus juveniles at different growth stagesJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 95 (8): 1635-1643. 2015.

Lajus DL, Ivanova TS, Shatskikh EV, Ivanov MV. “Waves of Life” of the White Sea stickleback. Priroda 4: 43-52. (In Russian). 2013

Shatskikh EV, DL Lajus, TS Ivanova. Habitat preferences of threespine stickleback juveniles Gasterosteus aculeatus L. in natural and experimental conditions. Vestnik SPBGU. Ser. 3. 2010. Vol. 4, pp 61-70. (In Russian). 2010.

Bakhvalova, A.E., Ivanova, T.S., Ivanov, M.V., Demchuk, A.S., Movchan, E.A., Lajus, D.L. 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, 2016, 17: 317-334.

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.

Collaboration with external organizations

Zoological Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg
Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
Institute of Biology of the Karelian, Russian Academy of Sciences, Petrozavodsk
University of Helsinki

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