International Basic Sciences Knowledge Contest

Sannikov Stanislav Nickolaevich

Stanislav Nickolaevich Sannikov, Doctor of Science, professor, the leading researcher of the Botanic Garden, Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ural Department; Emeritus Ecologist of the Russian Federation.

Stanislav Nickolaevich Sannikov was born on 22 October, 1929, in Sverdlovsk, to a family of an engineer who built Uralmash, Elmash and other Ural factories. Since his adolescence, he lived by the Osnovinsky Park (in the Pionersky district) and indulged in walking in nearby woods, fields and streams, took a fancy for watching birds, dragonflies, ants, newts, etc. He also read books by Russian zoologists in the Belinsky Library (e.g. “What and How to Watch in the Life of Birds” by Buturlin, “Beasts and Reptiles of Russia” by Menzbir, etc.).

After graduating from a school with a gold medal in 1947, S.S. could have entered any university without having to pass examinations, but he preferred Forest Institute without a second thought. There, during 5 years of lectures, laboratory research and forest tours, owing to his great teachers, he has taken a good grasp of the basics of forest sciences, and – above all – the main thing the Forest Institute can give, a concept of forest as a complex ecological system formed in the course of evolution. First of all, a forest is not mere trees growing in soil, but also all bushes, herbs and moss under the crown cover, and a variety of its inhabitants – animals, fungi, and germs. Secondly, being interdependent, they all transform the forest environment (soil and air), as they are connected with food chains in the constant fight for survival. However, what are specific forms and force of these interactions? What is a forest and how does it differ from, for instance, a steppe or a marsh? Why do forests, despite fires, windbreaks, and cutting (if not grubbed out) still revive like a legendary Phoenix? All this and many other things were still unclear, though absolutely necessary for a forester to know for preservation and recovery of forests.

That made S.S., after graduating from the Institute in 1952 and working as a forest engineer in the Kurgansk region, apply for post-graduate courses in the Biology Institute, the USSR Academy of Sciences, the Ural Branch – later the Institute of Ecology of Plants and Animals at the Ural Science Centre, the USSR Academy of Sciences – in 1954. At that time, a new scientific school of population ecology (led by professor S.S. Schwartz) and genetics (with prof. N.V. Timofeev-Resovski at the head) has been developed there. The young biologists formed their views on the grounds of these ideas. The population principle in biology means that evolutionary adaptations of organisms to environmental changes are studied for complete genetically homogeneous groups of coinhabitants, instead of individuals.

S.S. chose for the topic of his research work the analysis of environmental factors and processes of natural recovery of the pine tree – one of the main tree species in Russia. He based it in the renowned Pripyshminski pine forests – the largest body of pine forests (above 250,000 hectares) in the Transurals region, reaching a record 45-meter height. After excessive cutting out, they were hardly recovered and almost completely substituted for the birch trees of low value. It took S.S. twenty years of expeditions, experiments, writing a Ph.D. thesis and scores of articles to specify the factors which determine the density of pine-tree sprouting and, consequently, the final success of forest recovery. They are as follows: location of parent pine-trees and abundance of their seed, soil scalping rate conducive to the emergence of seedlings, and the extent of its overgrowing by the herb and deciduous coppice. By regulating these factors, a forester can cause a sufficiently dense pine-tree undergrowth.

Later on, after lots of expeditions, S.N. Sannikov and his colleagues studied ecological factors and peculiarities of recovery of the pine, fir, cedar, and their constant satellites – the birch and aspen – in different zones of Western Siberia and the Ural – from the northern taiga to the steppes, and in Karelia, the Komi republic, Siberia, Kazakhstan and in the beech woods of the Karpates, Ukraine. The results of his research are published in S.S.’s books and in his PhD thesis (1987). He also worked out ways of placement of “seed trees” for facilitation of forest recreation and created a special machine for optimal soil treatment to promote dense seedling growth in the cut-over land and burned-out forests.

S.S. with a group of his colleagues is currently studying the genetic structure of pine woods in the Caucasus and Central Europe; developing discrimination and location principles of the coniferous forest refugiums; and preparing a publication on forestry theory in Russia. It is to summarize the research conducted and to outline some new and interesting trends to be developed by young researchers.

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