Performed work

Ecological project can not be finalized within 2.2 years considering time required for purchase, installation and launch of needed equipment, conduction of large-scale fieldwork, check of results in experimental conditions, complicated processing of biological data. Though recently active research is being conducted including fieldwork, a number of fundamental results in the domain of science of Land and Life were obtained considering available stock.

1. Modern processes of formation of water quality

Chemical composition of waters

Based on analysis of spatial non-uniformity of chemical composition of waters within WS, contribution of natural and anthropogenic factors (in global section) forming quality of waters has been distinguished. Connection between natural and climatic conditions and chemical composition of waters within WS has been established. Extremely low salinity of taiga waters is resulting from predominance of monomineralic chemically poor rocks of fluvioglacial, lacustrine-alluvial origin; considerably high contents of water-soluble salts and carbonates is typical for the north-polar peninsulas and the utmost south of the territory– in forest steppe. Dissolution of salts by surface waters in the zone of Arctic prairie is confined by permafrost assessment of rocks; there is an active migration of salts in forest steppe, which leads to increased mineralization of lakes up to formation of brine basins. High values of H+ are typical for water-logged taiga with domination of tree vegetation, decomposition of which results in organic acids; this leads to natural aquatic acidification up to рН values of ~4.5-5.5. Water-logged watersheds of taiga lakes (in some places up to 70-80%) lead to formation of high water color index, its saturation with organic substance of natural origin – ulmates, humates and fulvates of Fe and Mn. Soil gleization, anaerobic reconstructive geochemical scenery stimulates mobility of Fe, Mn and Al, results in these elements being typomorphic in taiga waters of WS.

Алгоритмы расчета критических нагрузок на водосборы по фактору закисления для оценки уязвимости поверхностных вод Structure has been developed and databases have been created allowing immediate introduction of measurement results and calculation of ionic charge balance, buffer capacity of waters and critical loads (Certificate of state registration No. 2012620034). Visualization of a large number of parameters of chemical composition of waters was presented for the first time including main ions of mineralization, biogenic elements and metals over the whole territory of WS using GIS-technologies.

Processes of complex formation of a large number of metal ions (Fe, Cu, Pb, Cd, Zn, Ni, Co, Mn, Cr, Ca, Mg, Sr and Al) with humic substances (HS) and fractions substracted from the wide-spread soils in zones of the northern taiga, mixed forest, steppes have been studied. Constants of stability of complexes and specific peculiarities of HS of soils in natural zones and also the most active functional groups reacting with metal ions have been determined. Based on detailed experiments it has been proved that peculiarities of structure of humic substances and values of their acidity constants precondition differences in processes of complex formation – stability of complexes and their stoichiometry. Constants of stability of complexes of metal ions with HS of wide-spread soils from different natural and climatic zones obtained for the first time were used to forecast forms of metal occurrence in natural waters of these zones. Forms of metal occurrence in more than 110 natural water objects with different chemical composition of waters were calculated. New data were obtained for each natural zone as for “ranges of activity” of metals in reactions of complex formation with humic substances. It has been shown using big actual material that processes of complex formation in natural waters are determined by a range of factors – chemical composition of waters (concentration of inorganic and organic cations and anions), рН value, qualitative composition of water HS and many others, which shall be considered for forecasting of forms of occurrence of metals in natural waters.

Anthropogenically induced processes

Territorial differentiation of the region of Western Siberia is given by pollution factors, which is subject to the purpose of organization of complex monitoring on the most polluted areas of the region by influencing factors.

New data on levels and specific features of pollution from petroleum-producing enterprises have been obtained. Complex pollution of waters and landscapes by petroleum hydrocarbons, highly toxic substances (from PAH group) and heavy metals was detected in places of petroleum development. The latter are included to biogeochemical cycles and are accumulated in plants and animals in the territories of former oil spills, their high concentrations are registers 8 years after oil biodegradation. However significant water pollution by petroleum hydrocarbons and persistent organic pollutants (POP) was not detected in studied nominally background lakes distant from industrial enterprises. Multisubject research is conducted in 2012 on 5 water sheds exposed to intensive pollution; this will bring to light mechanisms of migration of pollutants, their deposition, interaction with natural factors, and formation of integral dose of exposure.

Processes of migration of petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) from water sheds have been studied. A model for calculation of pollutant run-off to water objects has been developed based on landscape hydrologic approach allowing differentiating overland runoff depending on conditions of its formation. Model is adapted for different natural and climatic zones and allow calculating run-off from small watersheds and generally integrated run-off to fringing sea considering self-cleaning potential of river systems. Based on calculations it has been shown that minor river in tundra and tundra forest zone having watershed area of about 1000 sq. km, where oil deposit is being developed, carries more than 8 t of PHC per year in case if about 1% of watershed area is polluted, which confirms a considerable contribution of diffuse sources of pollution to total pollution of river waters.

Phenomenon of high values of contents of nitrogen group in land waters of WS has been proved exceeding the same in waters of the European part of Russia in order of magnitude and more. Three factors leading to development of this phenomenon in natural waters of WS have been grounded:

1) specificity of biogeochemical circulation of nitrogen in regions of WS conditioned by the intensity of natural biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons;
2) anthropogenic flows from gas flaring;
3) transboundary transport. This issue requires further investigation with conduction of under-plume research.

Lakes (about 10%) with low values of pH and water color index were distinguished; they can be characterized as anthropogenically acidified lakes due to a very low buffer capacity of waters and increased contents of nitrogen and sulphuric acids (unlike natural lakes with high color index, waters of which are acidified by humus acids). Based on adapted international procedure, calculations of critical loads and their excess by factor of water acidification have been performed for all regions and in historical section by the example of the lake of Arantur. Trends towards recovery of water quality (by 2008 as compared to 1998) have been detected, which is consistent with general trends in Europe as regards recovery of water quality after decrease of emissions of acid-forming agents.

Influence of possible climate warming

A tentative forecast of influence of possible climate warming on quality of natural waters of Western Siberia has been developed. Considering possibility of thawing of cryosolic rocks of the Far North and escape of large amounts of water, there is risk of buildup of bogginess of the territory and further decrease of mineralization of surface waters of tundra and taiga. Thawing of frozen peat bogs may lead to increased emission of methane and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, waters of rivers and lakes. Increased bogginess of territories may induce further growth of water color index, increased amount of suspended substances in surface waters of taiga. Generally, climatic change towards increased temperatures and increased humidification in hymid zones, decreased humidification in subarid and arid zones will lead to greater variability in hydrochemical characteristics between the southern and the northern parts of WS triggering also intrazonal diversity in parameters of water mineralization due to its increased dependence on chemistry of watershed buildup rocks. These conclusions require further detailed experimental and simulative confirmations. Recently, empirical models have been created able to give accurate data on change of chemical composition of waters at climate warming.

Paleoecological reconstruction of past conditions and anthropogenic load

Paleoecological research of sediment beds of 8 lakes located in different natural and climatic zones, geochemical differentiation of peat beds for the purpose of reconstruction of climatic variations during the Holocene (based on diatomaceous flora and pollen) and also trends of global and regional enrichment of biosphere with heavy metals has been performed. Based on the study of geochemical parameters of layers of a peat bed (by the example of acid bog to the south of Tyumen region) in parallel with the timeline determined using radiocarbon dating, it has been proved that up to 5600±60 years ago there was a lake at the site of a peat bog, where serious and rather sharp changes of geochemical conditions have been in progress at least for 200 years. A climatic curve plotted using palynological data in relative units showed connection of the beginning of bed formation at transfer from the dry and warm period to a wetter and colder one. Climatic warm and dry conditions led to shallowing and eutrophication of the lake, its weediness, which is confirmed by the data on ash content in sediment beds and their mineralization. Change of climatic conditions towards cooling and increased humidification resulted in intensive bogginess of an eutrophic lake and peat accumulation, since intensity of biogeochemical processes of decay of plant residues decreased. Subsequent warming during 4200±70 years ago formed high-bog type of peat, where atmospheric precipitation was the main source of mineral substance intake.

Directed increase of contents of certain heavy metals (Mn, Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd) in near-surface layers of a peat bog evidences buildup of atmospheric pollution by chemical elements for the last 100-150 years. However, their concentrations are not maximal for the section with the exception of Mn, i.e. during past periods there were conditions also leading to intensive biogeochemical migration of elements. Analysis of sediment beds of the lakes showed “a trace” of the cold war and Chernobyl accident in increased contents of Cs137 in layers dated as 1950-th years and also the year 1986. Measurement of other parameters is still in progress including geochemical measurements and diatomaceous analysis.

2. Stability of ecosystem and ecological consequences of pollution

Methods of bioindication have been developed based on the study of adequate “response” from cenosis, separate populations and organisms of animals to change in parameters of their habitat. An explanation of patterns of stability maintenance and transformation of ecosystems has been given against ecological theory and thermodynamic mechanism of energy arrangement in living systems. Main signs of disorganization in ecosystems have been separated in conditions of maximal loads and recovery self-organization. It has been shown that development of new modification of water ecosystem after decrease of toxic pollution is consistent with patterns of ecosystem succession: from a natural through a critical stage to its more stable modification but different from natural in structure.

“System for diagnostics of condition of water ecosystems and ecological consequences of impact of various pollutants based on methods of biological indications of water quality using ecological and ecotoxicological approach” has been developed aimed at assessment of “health” of natural renewable resources both as methods of field observations and laboratory experiments.

Invertebratas. Species diversity of semi-aquatic land biocenosis and condition of populations of predominant species related to different trophic groups have been studied, dislocations in natural cenosis of invertebratas have been determined at oil pollution as compared to background territories. It is recommended to use the following species most sensitive to pollution by PHC as bioindicators of pollution of land ecosystems by raw oil: soil shellfish, earthworms and one of the most dominant species with increased sensitivity to oil – Newsteadia floccosa De Greer (Insecta, Homoptera).

By the example of model lake systems located from tundra to forest-steppe zones, patterns of variability of water ecosystems have been studied (phyto-, zooplankton and zoobenthos) along the climatic gradient. Influence of PHC on aquatic communities is being studied in natural and experimental conditions. Obtained results will serve as a basis for understanding of influence of climate warming on water ecosystems, add new parameters to the system for diagnostics of “health” of water ecosystems in case of PHC pollution.

With a view to possible warming and forecasted increase of land water salinity in the southern regions of WS, a study of influence of salinity gradient on aquatic communities, invertebratas and fish has been performed by the example of 18 lakes of the south of Tyumen region with various salinity. It has been shown that if salinity is increased up to 5 g/l, biodiversity is decreasing, further increase in salinity contributes to principal reorganization of cenosis and development of separate halophilic species, which generally results in increased fodder base.

Small mammals. Conducted studies of influence of pollution (primarily, raw oil and oil products) on mammalian cenosis of semi-aquatic ecosystems of middle and north taiga subzones of WS established adaptive behavior of organisms and specific pathologies depending on intensity of influence. Changes in exterior and interior parameters of small mammals in impact zones evidence increased physical activity of animals, intensity of their metabolism, strength of energy metabolism as a consequence of not only direct toxic influence but also accompanying changes of living environment (forest defoliation, decrease in productivity of above-soil covering, change in physical properties of substrate etc.). It has been proven that reproductive potential of animal units of dominating species of small mammals on contaminated territory is decreasing. Successful propagation of Sorex araneus on oil-contaminated territory comprised only 12.2% of potentially possible (control). Integral consequence of decreased reproduction is disruption of a food chain and decreased biodiversity in contaminated sites. Abnormalities in hemopoiesis processes, enhanced migration of leukocytes to blood flow, increased fraction of pyknomorphous cells in different tissues evidence direct toxic action of oil and can be an informative predictor of consequences of territorial pollution by PHC.

Birds. In the framework of the project and UN Convention on biodiversity, a large-scale research of avifauna of the West Siberian Plain along the transect extending for 1800 km has been conducted, where birds were counted using route-road method. Taking into consideration previous studies, it has been determined that species wealth and biodiversity of birds in forest subzones (sub-taiga and taiga) exceeds the same of open (steppe, tundra) on semi-open (forest steppe and forest tundra) territories. However relative wealth of birds is maximal in the forest steppe with a warmer climate. Minimal stability of bird cenosis is typical for the tundra zone and near oil and gas complexes. The database “Working site of an ornithologist” has been developed and it includes required algorithms and mathematical calculations of main ecological parameters of bird cenosis (Certificate of state registration of the database No. 2012620405).

Based on analysis of the database materials a considerable influence of climate change in WS on bird cenosis has been established, which is characterized by advance of wetland bird species to the northern direction with expansion of their nest areal (in vegetation season) and penetration of resident and migrant bird species (in winter seasons) from the north to the south, which is due to increase in total continentality of climate of WS.

Пробы рыбFish. To assess condition of ichthyofauna and to determine “standard of physiological state”, studies were conducted in relatively clean (background) and anthropogenically transformed 18 lake and river systems of WS: .tundra, taiga, sub-taiga and forest steppe natural and climatic zones and also in the Gulf of Ob. Main symptoms of diseases of fish inhabiting natural basins and pathohistological abnormalities in organs and tissues associated with toxic water pollution including PHC have been analyzed. Pathomorphological changes in gills and hepar of peled and muksun hibernating in the Gulf of Ob have been determined. In branchial epithelium, they are manifested in fusion of respiratory lamellas, hyperemia of their apical sites, destruction of epithelial cells; in hepar, considerable overgrowth of blood vessel walls, lipoid degeneration of hepatocytes has been detected in some animal units.

Примеры гистопаталогических нарушений у рыб Обского бассейнаMethods of cytogenetic analysis showed efficacy of use of such biomarker of pollution as frequency of chromosomal aberrations based on study of developing embyos of 4 species of Coregonidae fish from basins of Tyumen region, whose spawners were selected from the rivers and lakes with different degree of pollution. Variability of this parameter had been analyzed more than for 20-year period of monitoring. It was that for the study period (1989-2011) level of chromosomal mutability in embryonal cells of fish was steadily increasing. High sensitivity of Coregonidae fish on the stage of blastula and gastrula to pollutants was detected. Development of phenodeviants confirms increase in concentration of substances having genotoxicity in spawning basins. A high efficacy of proposed cytogenetic biomarkers for assessment of genetic state of natural populations was shown in conditions of increasing environmental pollution. Main provisions for conduction of biomonitoring were developed based on use of cytogenetic parameters. Thereupon, “Procedure for assessment of mutagenic properties of natural and contaminated waters” was developed aimed at integral assessment of influence of low doses of extended pollution. Development of normal embryos (a) and pathology (b) in terms of water pollution is shown in the picture below.

3. Technologies of recovery and purification of waters

Пробы рыбA chart for conduction of field observations on biological recovery of disrupted lands using bacterial preparations has been worked-out. A program and methods for assessment of action of bacterial preparations as regards biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons have been developed. Works on technology of stimulation of self-cleaning potential of water ecosystems for control of oil pollution on the principle of bio conveyor using slick bars bearing synthetic fibres have been performed.

Microbiological studies of waters of 39 lakes, 3 samples of sediment beds and one soilborne sample have been performed to detect the following groups of microorganisms: nitrifying agents of I phase, nitrifying agents of II phase, denitrifying agents, ammonifiers, sulphate-reducing microorganisms, cellulose-fermenting microorganisms, aerobes and anaerobes. A repository of hydrocarbon-oxidizing microflora of WS has been created as a basis for new hydrocarbon-oxidizing bacterial preparations. New cultures have been separated (88 strains) from collected samples, which were put for storage to the Repository of collection cultures of hydrocarbon-oxidizing microorganisms for subsequent analysis of perspectiveness of their use in new preparations based on aboriginal microflora of different natural and climatic zones of WS.

Пробы рыбIn conditions of the Far North, on the Yamal peninsula, a technology has been developed and a complex of operations on agronomical and biological cleaning of soil level and khor from oil pollution has been conducted on the total area of more than 3 ha to prevent transfer of oil products to the Gulf of Ob. Oil gathering has been performed from the water surface of a technogenic foundation pit during experimental and production work; bursting of contaminated soil sites, application of complex fertilizers and bacterial preparation “Putidoil” has been performed to stimulate hydrocarbon-oxidizing properties. Several barrier lines (“bioconveyor”) from oil-sorbing slick bars were mounted along the khor; their fibrous heads actively destruct film and dissolved oil products due to immobilized hydrocarbon-oxidizing bacteria and algae. Biomats are spread and fixed at sites with high risk of erosion. Validation of developed technologies has shown their high efficacy as regards prevention of oil product washing-off by rainwater along the khor into the aquatory of the Gulf of Ob. Developed technologies have shown high efficacy also during conduction of mechanical and biological recultivation of old exploratory wells on the Yamal peninsula.

Пробы рыбПробы рыбA technology has been developed and experimental and production work on cleaning of water surface of a natural lake and bog raised soils from the gas condensate pollution has been conducted for conditions of the forest tundra on the total area of more than 15 ha. Gathering of condensate from the water surface of the lake has been performed using oil-sorbing slick bars. Bursting of contaminated soil sites, application of complex fertilizers and bacterial preparations has been performed to stimulate hydrocarbon-oxidizing properties.

Presentation of results and personnel training

Научно-методический семинар по полевым исследованиям качества вод на озере Кучак: раки - индикаторы качества водыАтомно-абсорбционный спектрофотометр со сплошным источником спектра ContrAAResults of the research are widely covered on Russian  and international forums, published in journals under review, such as “Applied Geochemistry”, “EcoHealth”, “Ecotoxicology and Environment Safety”, “Trend in Ecology”, “Water Resources”, “Geochemistry”, “Reports of RAS”, “Proceedings of RAS. Geographical Series”, “Science in Russia”, “Herald of Tyumen State University” and other publications. Acknowledgment of scientific achievements is invitation from American publishing house Novapublishers to publish results in selected monographs “Ecotoxicology in Globe”, “Lakes progress researches”, “Large rivers”, “Water Quality: Indicators, Human Impact and Environmental Health”, “Aquatic ecosystem”. Detailed publications are give at the web-site In 2010, 6 articles were published in collaboration with the manager, in 2011 – 12 articles, in 2012– 6 articles and 11 more articles were accepted for publication with positive evaluation; preparation of 7 more scientific articles is completed. Totally, more than 100 articles as regards ecological issues were published by the laboratory workers over a period of studies.

6 large international conferences (3 – organizers, 3 – co-organizers) have been conducted since the beginning of the project. More than 150 scientific reports were presented in total by the laboratory workers at different status events. The laboratory organized and conducted more than 22 scientific events: intra-institutional (scientific seminars, student conference, contest of young scientists) – 9, city (scientific seminars, panel discussions, trainings, open days, summer ecology school) – 8, regional (theoretical and practical seminars, 8th school seminar named after prof. R.M. Tsoy)- 5. Purpose of the events is to attract young scientists to scientific research in the sphere of ecology and environmental management, realization of integration of science and education, implementation of interdisciplinary approach into scientific research, ecological training of high schoolers, advanced ecological training of employees of gas and oil producing complex of Tyumen region.

2 theses were defended in 2011 and also 2 theses - in 2012 considering preceding practice. Work on structuring of regular personnel and identification of potential doctors and PhDs has been performed; 3 specialists (PhDs) were identified working on doctorate theses in the sphere of geochemistry, biology and geography of natural waters. Plan and progress chart have been developed for 3 doctorate theses in the framework of project objectives. Research topics were approved by scientific council of Institute of mathematics, natural sciences and information technologies in July 2012. 2 to 4 research students and masters working on theses are focused on preferred directions of doctorate theses in the process of preparation, which constitutes integrity and continuity in research. Young scientists from leading higher educational institutions of Russia and far abroad are trained on probation, take part in academic conventions, contests of young scientists.

Solution of ecological issues is primarily based on full-scale field observations, which shall be provided with technically consistent basis for field works and laborious processing of obtained data using modern equipment. More than one year is required to process data series. The majority of materials collected in 2011-2012 are still at the stage of processing and understanding, consolidation in articles. It shall be considered that the first “wave” of projects fell under the action of the Federal Law FZ 94, due to which purchase of equipment and its installation was performed only at the end of 2011. A number of carried-out analyses of hydrochemical, geochemical, paleoecological and biological samples are characterized by labor intensity and they have not been completed. Consolidation and preparation of articles also takes time; publishing of already prepared articles in academic and foreign publications under review takes one-two years. Therefore, usual duration of ecological projects is not less than 4-5 years according to international practice.

Therewith, on the basis of submitted abstracts from the report it is evident that project objectives are generally successfully accomplished, and the main thing is that fundamentals for solution of theoretical and application-oriented issues of universal significance have been laid for a long-term perspective for the laboratory of “Water quality, stable functioning of ecosystems and ecotoxicology”.