Scientific research of the University at the Valaam Archipelago started in 1998. The main research
objects are the Lake Ladoga littoral near the Archipelago and the lakes of Valaam Island.
The main research directions are the assessment of the ecological state of the Archipelago's ecosystems,
the study of structure and functioning of aquatic ecosystems, and zoning and typization of the water areas studied.
Many of the University's projects are carried out in collaboration with the "Valaam"
Scientific Research Centre of the St. Petersburg Naturalists' Society, which has a large
experience of studying the Archipelago's ecosystems.
The most extensive research project of the University at the Valaam Archipelago is "Complex monitoring of land
and water environments of the Valaam Archipelago". Within this project, representative stations and plots for monitoring
have been selected, and for aquatic objects a system of observations, consisting of hydrochemical, hydrophysical
and hydrobiological parts, has also been developed and tested. Research of water environments is carried out
at 42 stations during the open water period (May to September or October). The stations are situated in the
coastal littoral, in Sisyarvi (the largest inner lake of Valaam Island) and in 10 small inner lakes. For storage
and analysis of the accumulated information, databases "Inner lakes of the Valaam Archipelago" and
"Lake Ladoga littoral near Valaam Archipelago" were developed. The revealed tendencies are used for planning
nature conservation activities in the nature park "Valaam Archipelago" and for preparing educational events
such as lectures, excursions in the nature etc. The materials obtained were also used for preparing the
exposition of the Nature Museum of Northern Ladoga and Valaam Archipelago, located in the nature park,
and the exposition of the station's own museum, Natural Complexes of Valaam Island.
The project "Complex monitoring of land and water environments of the Valaam Archipelago" is going
on, with new research topic arising within it. Two of them, development of geo-information system
"Valaam Archipelago" and monitoring of forest phytocenoses in the protection zone of Lake Ladoga in
the Valaam Archipelago, are presented below.
Development of GIS "Valaam Archipelago"
Within this topic, a geo-information system comprising information about land and water
ecosystems of the Valaam Archipelago and the northern Ladoga region will be developed. Such
a system would allow systematisation of the accumulated material at a new level, development
of topical maps and calculation of integral indices of the state of the Archipelago's ecosystems.
Monitoring of forest phytocenoses in the protection zone of Lake Ladoga in the Valaam Archipelago
Within this topic, the following tasks were set: 1) development of the scientific programme of ecological
monitoring of diverse forest areas;
2) selection of monitoring methods; 3) organisation of regular collection and processing of information; 4)
training of specialists in organisation of forest monitoring. In accordance with the Forest Use Project approved
by the Ministry of the Forest Complex of the Republic of Karelia (since 04.09.2010, the Ministry of Nature Management
and Ecology of the Republic of Karelia) in 2009, three plots for forest monitoring were selected. In these plots, field
studies of vegetation communities and soils were conducted and the necessary samples were taken. The descriptions of
the plots made after these studies can be used as the basis for background monitoring. In addition, sub-plots were laid
on various substrates for the monitoring of the lichen cover. In collaboration with a group of experts from the
Department of Botany of the St. Petersburg State University (head of the group, D. V. Himmelbrant, Candidate of
Biological Sciences, docent) the species list of lichens was compiled. The programme of observations will be
developed to include various taxonomic groups of fungi and insects.
Below three more research projects conducted by the University at the Valaam Archipelago are presented.
Typization of small lakes of the Valaam Archipelago by the major limnological parameters and the catchment area characteristics
This project is carried out since 2000 as a budget research activity at the Department of Applied Ecology.
It should be noted that small lakes of the Valaam Archipelago are characterised not only by a considerable
range of the limnological parameters but also by the unique combinations of their values. Within the project,
classifications of the lakes were developed according to the main biotic communities, hydrochemical parameters,
optical properties and the features of the temperature regime. Typization of the lakes has also been performed.
As a result, the ten small lakes of Valaam Island were attributed to five types. Due to a high content of organic
matter and total iron, several new subtypes and one new type were suggested for the Valaam lakes, thus supplementing
the existing classification of Karelian lakes (Lozovik et al., 1991).
Ecological state of the Valaam Archipelago water area under undisturbed conditions and under anthropogenic pressure
Having started in 2003, this project was at first (until 2005) supported by the "Russian Universities"
programme of the Scientific and Information-Methodological Centre "BASIS" of the Ministry of Education of
the Russian Federation, and later was part of the budget research activity at the Department of Applied
Ecology. The zoning of the Archipelago's water area according to the indices of hydrobionts' communities
and a complex of limnological parameters was performed within the project. Each part of the water area
thus delimited is considerably different from the others by the complex of dominant species and the indices
of species diversity and abundance of phytoplankton, zooplankton and macrozoobenthos. As the result, the assessment
of the ecological state of the aquatic ecosystems of the Valaam Archipelago was given. Considerable attention is
given to the study of the Monastyrskaya Bay, which is subjected to the greatest anthropogenic impact (dumping of
household waste waters, bilge water of small vessels and tourist motorships, the pollution from the loading wharf).
A complex study of the distribution of organic matter in small lakes
From 2000 to 2004 the project was financially supported by the federal target programme
"Integration of Science and Higher Education in Russia"; later it was part of the budget research
activity at the Department of Applied Ecology. The project is carried out in collaboration with
the Ecological Safety Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Within the project, investigations
of the component composition of the organic microadmixtures in the pelagic zone were conducted with the
use of high-performance chromatography-mass spectrometry and a quantitative assessment of the share of
the labile part in the total pool was given. It was shown how the composition of the soils' humic compounds
washed away from the catchment area influences the distribution of organic matter in the lakes and the
course of production processes. Information was obtained on the photosynthetic activity of plankton and
the speed of destructive processes at various horizons of the pelagic zone of the lakes under study.
The research revealed the regularities of the vertical distribution of the total organic matter, organic
microadmixtures, phytoplankton, the values of gross photosynthesis, the main hydrochemical parameters and
the temperature in seasonal aspect. This is the first such study of small lakes in the North-West Russia.