Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine

Institute of Zoology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Інститут зоології імені І.І. Шмальгаузена Національної академії наук України; Instytut zoolohii imeni I.I. Shmalhauzena Natsionalnoi akademii nauk Ukrainy). The co-ordinating center of zoological research in Ukraine, established in Kyiv in 1930 out of the zoological museum of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (est 1919) and the Fedir Omelchenko Biology Institute (est 1920 as a ‘microbiological institute’). A large portion of research staff at both institutions consisted of the zoology graduates of Kyiv University. The newly created scientific research institute was called the Institute of Zoology and Biology until 1939, when it was renamed the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR.

Among the pioneers of zoology as an academic discipline in Ukraine following the Revolution of 1917 was the eminent zoologist Ivan Shmalhauzen (Schmalhausen), full member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences from 1922 and the USSR Academy of Sciences from 1935, and the first director of the Institute of Zoology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (1930–41). Shmalhauzen’s work on the ‘stabilizing selection’ that he began at the institute in the 1930s contributed to the origins of the modern synthesis (a group of theories in evolutionary biology). A major research center of experimental zoology in Ukraine before the Second World War, the institute was also a leader in the study of parasitology (Oleksander P. Markevych), entomology (Volodymyr Karavaiev), embryology (Borys Balinsky), and zoogeography (Mykola Sharleman). In 1935 it had 41 full-time research staff, including three academicians of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and 5 departments: mechanics of development (experimental zoology); general biology (genetics); comparative anatomy; ecology; and faunistics. The department of genetics was opened in 1934 on the basis of the department of general biology and became one of the main centers of the study of genetics in the USSR. The department of parasitology was added in 1937. Responding to the practical concerns of agriculture, the institute opened the department of biological methods of pest control (1941). The department of ichthyology was also opened in 1941.

The institute was decimated by the Stalinist repressions during the 1930s. Several of its leading scientists were either executed or sent to GULAG labor camps (including renowned geneticist Israil Ahol who was executed as a Trotskyite; ecologist and head of the institute’s Kharkiv branch Vladimir Stanchinsky who perished in the GULAG; entomologist Dmytro Rudnev; and mammalogist Arnold Schepe). In the wake of the German-Soviet war, in October 1941, the institute was temporarily merged with the Institute of Hydrobiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR and the Institute of Microbiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR under the name of the Institute of Zoobiology and evacuated to Ufa, RSFSR. Due to the fact that only a small portion of three institutes’ prewar staff was evacuated, the amalgamated institute had only three departments. Nevertheless, the evacuated staff included a few prominent scientists, such as morphologist Dmytro Tretiakov, entomologist Yevhen Zverezomb-Zubovsky, and geneticist Serhii Hershenzon. Meanwhile, in Nazi-occupied Kyiv a new research institution—the Institute of Plant Protection—was opened, staffed largely with the Institute of Zoology’s former employees (Mykola Sharleman, Serhii Paramoniv, Leo Sheljuzhko (Lev Sheliuzhko), Vadym Sovinsky, Yevdokiia Reshetnyk, and Valentyna Bibikova among others). Some of these and few other former scientists of the Institute of Zoology, who had stayed and worked in Nazi-occupied Kyiv, left Ukraine for the West to escape the Soviet advance, among them Paramoniv, Sheljuzhko, Borys Balinsky, and Dmitri Beling.

The Institute of Zoology was reopened in Kyiv in April 1944 with 8 departments, a laboratory for the study of parasitic and predatory insects, a zoological museum, and 32 research staff. A new research institution—the Institute of Entomology and Phytopatology (today the Institute of Plant Protection of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)—was opened in 1945 on the basis of several departments of the institutes of zoology and botany. In the 1960s histology and cytology became two new priority research fields in the institute (represented by the works of Petro Mazhuha and Nataliia Rodionova). In 1966 the newly opened Central Museum of Natural History of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR (today National Museum of Natural History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine) included two collections operated by the Institute of Zoology: zoological and paleontological, together with the institute’s corresponding departments. These collections and departments remained under the institute’s authority until 1996, when the museum was granted the status of a national institution with the right to administer all collections on its premises.

Since its opening in 1930, the institute has developed close relations with Kyiv University’s department of zoology of vertebrates and invertebrates in the faculty of biology. Several of the institute’s leading scientists simultaneously served as chairs of that department (among them Ivan Shmalhauzen, Oleksander P. Markevych, Dmytro Tretiakov, and Halyna Shcherbak). In 1981 the institute was named after its first director Ivan Shmalhauzen. After the Chornobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 the institute’s scientists began to study the negative impact of radiation on animals (Leonid Frantsevych, Valentyn Kryzhanivsky, and Volodymyr Stovbchaty among others). The institute’s traditional strengths have been in entomology, helminthology, mammalogy, ornithology, acarology, and evolutionary morphology. Annually, the institute’s scientists discover and describe dozens new animal species from around the globe. For instance, only between 2006 and 2021 they described not fewer than 1,012 newly discovered species of insects, helminth, ticks, molluscs, and others. At the same time, the institute has been active in the wildlife protection by supplying zoological data to the editions of the Red Data Book of Ukraine (1980, 1994–6, 2009) and by facilitating the activities of Ukraine’s nature preserves.

The institute has 9 departments (invertebrate fauna and systematics; entomology and collection management; acarology; evolutionary genetics and fundamentals of systematics; animal monitoring and conservation; fauna and systematics of vertebrates; parasitology; evolutionary morphology; and taxonomy of entomophagous insects and ecological principles of biocontrol), 4 laboratories (collection management; monitoring of the Sea of Azov-Black Sea wetlands; population ecology; and ornithology of Southern Ukraine), the Ukrainian Bird-Ringing Center; ornithological station in Melitopol; and an experimental apiary. It also maintains strong links with the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve (est 1927) in Kherson oblast. Three scientific societies are based in the institute: the Ukrainian Scientific Society of Parasitologists, the Ukrainian Entomological Society, and the Ukrainian Theriological Society. The number of its scientists declined from 144 in 1980 to fewer than 120 in the 1990s. It rebounded to 150 in 2008 but then declined again to 123 in 2016 and to 115 in 2021, primarily due to budget cutbacks. The institute defines three priority research areas as follows: the study of fauna, its phylogeny and taxonomy; fauna protection, conservation, and monitoring; and the zoological conditions for improved productivity of plants and animals. The institute holds more than 6,700,000 items in its 343 collections representing 45,410 species of fauna from around the globe, including a particularly valuable collections of ants (Formicidae) of 4,700 species and arthropoda found inside the Rivne amber (13,000 specimens). Its library has more than 172,000 volumes of specialized literature (including 87,400 in languages other than Ukrainian and Russian). The institute has published the serial Zbirnyk prats' zoolohichnoho muzeiu (1926–31; 1934–8; 1939–41; 1953–63; 2005–18), the multivolume reference work Fauna Ukraïny (The Fauna of Ukraine, 75 vols, 1956–2019), the bimonthly journal Zoodiversity (before 2020 Vestnik zoologii) (56 vols, 1967–), and the biannual Ukraїns’kyi entomolohichnyi zhurnal (13 vols, 2010–17). Its directors have been Ivan Shmalhauzen (1930–41), Yakiv Roll (1941–4, in evacuation), Dmytro Tretiakov (1944–8), Oleksander P. Markevych (1948–50), Volodymyr Kasianenko (1950–63), Petro Mazhuha (1963–5), Ivan Pidoplichko (1965–73), Vadym Topachevsky (1973–87), Ihor Akimov (1987–2021), and Vitalii Kharchenko (2021–). The institute is part of the department of general biology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

Instytut zoolohiї im. I.I. Shmal'hauzena. 75 rokiv (Kyiv 2005)
The institute’s official website:

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was updated in 2022]

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