Deer and sheep, bears, sockeye salmon and volcanoes: what and whom will be studied in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in 2022

Deer and sheep, bears, sockeye salmon and volcanoes: what and whom will be studied in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve in 2022.


Research plans for the 2022 field season were discussed by employees of the Kronotsky State Nature Reserve and specially invited scientists from outside research institutions. More than 20 field research topics are planned at the annual scientific and technical council. Dozens of employees and volunteers will take part in the expeditions.

The unique protected nature of Kamchatka attracts not only tourists from all over the world, but also scientists. Volcanologists call Kamchatka a "natural laboratory"; ichthyologists receive unique research results and put forward new evolutionary hypotheses by studying the processes of the appearance of endemic fish; theriologists are interested in studies of both marine and terrestrial mammals. 

In 2022, in the Kronotsky and Koryak nature reserves, the South Kamchatka Nature Reserve, research will be conducted with the participation of scientists from the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters. I.D.Papanin of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the All-Russian Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, the V.L.Komarov Botanical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the A.N.Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Pacific Institute of Geography of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and other reputable scientific institutions.

For example, there will be a large-scale aerial survey of brown bears in the South Kamchatka Nature Reserve. The concentration of bears is particularly high here. During previous onservations, scientists noted that over 120 individual bears might be spotted just in 2-3 hours of air surveys in the Kuril Lake area.

Ground survey of the snow sheep and studies of the population of black-capped marmots (both species inhabit mountain peaks, volcanic plateaus and slopes of high terraces on the seashore) will be held for the first time in the last few years. Evgenia Volkova, researcher at the reserve, is conducting the work; the number, age and sex composition of the animals groups, their behavior and habitats will be studied. "The snow sheep and the black-capped marmot are among the key species of the reserve. We will conduct research on these species on the volcanoes of Townshitz and Krasheninnikov, in the foothills of the Schmidt volcano and on the seaside terrace from the mouth of the Kozlov River to the Landslide hill on the snow sheep," says Evgenia.

"We haven't counted snow sheep since 2012," adds Daria Panicheva, head of the scientific department of the reserve. — This is quite a big gap. Studies of the black-capped marmot have also not been conducted in the last few years. Evgenia Volkova's task is to restore regular work at the aforementioned model sites."

In the summer, the salmon fish research conducted by ichthyologists Grigory Markevich and Evgeny Esin will continue on the territory of the reserve. The first stage of the research planned for this year has already passed in March. Scientists are searching for spawning grounds of stone char and studying its biology. The stone char is a relic and endemic predatory fish inhabiting the channel and tributaries of the Kamchatka River. This is a unique example of new species formation in river ecosystems. Most scientists agree that this fish is a descendant of the widespread char–malma. The number of stone char is rapidly falling, so it is listed in the Red Book of the Kamchatka Territory. "It is extremely difficult to find places where the char spawns. So far, only three spawning grounds have been found on the territory of the reserve. To expand knowledge about this species, of course, a much larger number of spawning grounds, observations and samples are needed. Also this year, work is planned on the cordon of the Source of the Kronotsky Reserve and in the Kronotsky Lake basin. We shall search for new forms of relict char and study the kokani form of sockeye salmon ," said senior researcher of the reserve Grigory Markevich.

Also, from May to October scientists will monitor the sockeye salmon herd of the Ozernaya River and its habitat on the territory of the South Kamchatka Reserve. They will also study the structure of the spawning stock of sockeye salmon of Lake Kurilskoye. The study makes it possible to ensure more sustainable use of fish resources, to understand the permissible volumes of sockeye salmon catch, which will not harm the future of this valuable salmon fish.

Large-scale work on the study of the wild reindeer population of the region will continue in 2022. Its main task is to develop measures to restore the population. After a catastrophic decline in the number of deer on the peninsula in recent years, the only large herd (about 500 heads) has been preserved on the territory of the Kronotsky Reserve. We are going to organize air surveys of the current number, sex and age structure of the only remaining wild reindeer herd, as well as additional studies of genetic materials.

Other studies this year include observations of geysers and other hydrothermal manifestations, as well as studies of landslides and landslides of the Valley of Geysers and the Uzon Caldera; study of island arc deformations under conditions of immersion of some edges of lithospheric plates under others (geologists call it subduction); study of the role of volcanic—hydrothermal systems of the central part of Eastern Kamchatka in the formation of river runoff to the Kronotsky Bay of the Pacific Ocean; investigation of the composition, properties and dynamics of gas-hydrothermal fluids in the Koshelev hydrothermal-magmatic system; the study of pyroclastic products of the largest volcanic eruptions on the territory of the Kronotsky Reserve; insect research, several works on whales and seals, and much more.

A number of scientific works this year are carried out using new techniques, including sonar equipment, video recording, modern software for data processing. And of course, all scientific expeditions are organized with a minimum load on natural complexes.