LaboratoriesLaboratory for Comparative Ethology and Biocommunication \  Goals and Tasks


Headed by Surov Alexey Vasilyevich, Dr. Biol. Sci.

Tel:. (499)-135-99-83,

   Saratov Biological Station   


The head of Laboratory
Alexey V.Surov

Evgeniy N. Panov

Dr. Sci. in Chemistry
Eduard P. Zinkevich

Laboratory of Comparative Ethology and Biocommunication (Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences) was established in 1990 as an independent branch of the Laboratory of Bioacoustics. It was headed by Prof., D. Sci. Evgeniy N. Panov until 2007.

In 2007 in the course of the Institute reorganization, the Group of chemical communication and chemoreception (since 1971, the head – D. Sci. in Chemistry Eduard P. Zinkevich) becomes a part of the Laboratory.

The fundamental aim of the research is the study of the animal communication and evolutionary transformation of the signaling structures. The laboratory deals with the whole class of the problems concerning principles of the information exchange within animal populations and transformation of both structures and functions involved in the course of microevolution. The main objects of study are reptiles, birds and mammals. Signals of different modalities (optical, vocal, chemical, etc.) are investigated as constituents of the entire polymodal system.

The main directions of research:
  • The study of the basic principles of structural organization and functioning of the species-specific communication systems within groups of the closely related species with use a comparative approach. The following subjects are under investigations:

  1. The principles of communication between individuals as a factor of maintenance of the intrapopulation organization.

  2. The role of communication and social behavior in speciation as well as in processes of the species fusion in zones of the secondary contact of closely related taxa. The main points of this approach are analysis of principles of ethological isolating mechanisms’ functioning as well as of their break-down in situations of the closely related species interbreeding. Ethological features of the hybridogenous populations are also under consideration.

  3. The mechanisms of chemical communication in mammals, its chemical and syntactic structure with comparative analysis of pheromones in animals of various taxonomical affinities. The place of the chemical cues among other factors influencing population homeostasis. Attention is paid to revealing of the con- and heterospecific odor cues’ informative significance, and a role they play in regulation of the population density (e.g., in the regulation of the sexual maturation rate of juveniles) in several rodent species. Evolutionary and functional aspects of odor-dependent behavior, including scent marking together with the functions of the specific skin glands are of the special interest.

  • The study of social behavior and social organization:

  1. the diversity of the social structures in the animal world;

  2. an adaptive value of the different types of social organization with much attention paid to balance of functional and disfunctional features found in the given type of social organization;

  3. the looking for the common principles of the local populations’ spatial organization with attempts to elaboration of the formal methods of its description and interpretation.

  • The study of the communicative systems transformations in the process of microevolution:

  1. divergent evolution of behavior as correlated with main features of the external morphology and ecology;

  2. the principles of the taxa adaptive radiation at the generic level.