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Last year is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Russian and Soviet aquatic ecologist Vyacheslav Mikhailovich (M.) Rylov. Rylov was one of the first proponents of the so-called productional (trophodynamic) approach in aquatic ecology.
SILnews | ISSUE 75 JANUARY 2020
Upcoming SIL 2020 Congress
The city of Gwangju (Republic of Korea)
welcomes the opportunity to host the 35th
Congress of the International Society of
Limnology from August 23 to 28, 2020,
devoted to the theme of “Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Functions: Healthy Rivers,
Lakes, and Humans”.
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transfer to scientists and researchers
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in the region. Accordingly, SIL facilitates
developing a stronger regional scientific
network to encourage innovative scientific
discussions on regional issues. SIL2020 is
the perfect opportunity for delegates to be a
part of SIL’s new mission that is concentrated
on promoting excellence in limnology and
solving global issues through the transfer of
knowledge and the fostering of a strong
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Faces of SIL
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Tonolli Memorial Award Recipients
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Limnology Around the World
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10 Reasons to
Attend SIL 2020
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SILnews 1
Letter from the President 2
Upcoming SIL 2020 Congress 3
3rd SIL Student Competition 5
Why Join SIL - The International
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Tonolli Memorial Award Recipients 6
Limnology Around the World 8
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Republic of Korea 9
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Faces of SIL 13
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Book reviews 15
Taxonomy 15
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Commemoration 18
Vyacheslav M. Rylov (1889-1942) 18
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Prize for Tropical Limnology 19
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SIL2020 will also be holding short courses
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SILnews | ISSUE 75 JANUARY 2020
Vyacheslav M. Rylov
This year is the 130th anniversary of the birth of Russian
and Soviet aquatic ecologist Vyacheslav Mikhailovich (M.)
Rylov. Rylov was among the rst members of SIL. Although
he took an active part in SIL congresses, his name in world
hydrobiology is now, unfortunately, almost completely
forgotten. Rylov’s works that are most often cited today are
those on systematics and faunistic studies of planktonic
crustaceans, a eld in which he was a renowned expert.
His contribution to science as an ecologist whose ideas
anticipated many modern concepts of aquatic ecology is
much less known. In particular, Rylov was one of the rst
proponents of the so-called productional (trophodynamic)
approach in hydrobiology.
Rylov was born in Kronshtadt into a family of teachers. He spent
his childhood in the Kostroma province, where still a child, he
developed an interest in observing and studying nature. In 1909,
Rylov matriculated at the Department of Natural Sciences of the
Saint-Petersburg University. In 1934 he was awarded a Doctor
of Biological Sciences degree. From 1916 to the end of his life
he worked at the Zoological Institute of the USSR Academy
of Sciences (known as the Zoological Museum before 1934)
where he was the Head of the Department of Crustaceans and
Plankton from 1929 to 1942. During the Siege of Leningrad,
Rylov fell seriously ill and unfortunately, for some reasons he
and his wife (hydrobiologist Lidiya P. Rylova) decided to leave
the sieged city too late. The harsh living conditions under the
evacuation aggravated Rylov’s illness and on 22 March 1942,
the day of his birthday, V.M. died in an evacuation hospital at
Manturovo railway station (Kostroma province); he was buried
in a local cemetery.
The academic pursuit of Prof. Rylov had already begun in his
student years with a collection of zooplankton from different
water bodies of the Russian Empire. As a result, during his
university studies V.R. has already amassed substantial
material on the taxonomy of freshwater Crustacea (Copepoda
and Cladocera) and his work with collections of the Zoological
Museum allowed him to describe several new species in
this group. Later on, Rylov used this rich factual material to
address some fundamental problems in hydrobiology and
limnology. The focal point of his research was the interaction
between an organism and its environment.
In 1922 in a presentation at the First All-Russian Congress
of Zoologists, Anatomists and Histologists, Rylov used the
concept of a water body as a biologically unied entity to
convey the idea that not only the environment inuences
organisms but organisms may also have effects on their
environment. Today, this view seems self-evident, but it was
less than obvious in the rst quarter of the 20th century. As
an example, Rylov pointed to the phytoplankton’s inuence
on the gaseous regime of a water body. It is noteworthy
that he continued to develop this idea in the following years
using a quantitative approach. In 1925, in a presentation
“Some aspects of biodynamics of limnoplankton” at the Third
International Limnological Congress, Rylov introduced the
biodynamic standard, a quantitative measure of phytoplankton
metabolism. He transmitted the idea that “every planktonic
organism is a unit of life with a certain physiological ability”.
Rylov drew attention to the fact that there is a proportional
relationship between the quantitative development of plankton
and changes in water chemistry. Likewise, an organism can
manifest its potential productional ability only under certain
conditions that are optimal for its life activities. According
to Rylov, the so-called “individual physiological ability of
the organism under a given environmental factor” is “a
quantitative measurement of the latter per hour under optimal
conditions for this organism”. In presenting the results of
physiological experiments, Rylov recommended normalizing
measurements to unit area of the reactional surface. In his
later works, he expanded on the idea of the environment-
forming role of other organisms (in particular, macrophytes).
Rylov was therefore the rst to introduce quantitative measure
of the productional ability of phytoplankton, taking a crucial
step from simple physiological experiments toward an actual
method of measuring productivity, based on changes in the
chemical composition of the environment over a certain period
of time. Unfortunately, for some reason this idea was not further
elaborated by Rylov and the views of other hydrobiologists on
productivity were developed independently of his ideas.
Rylov was also interested in the problems of regional limnology.
In particular, he explored the questions of relationships
between the chemical composition of water in the water body
and the characteristics of its catchment. Finally, Rylov studied
issues related to feeding of aquatic organisms, for instance,
the role of tryptone in crustacean nutrition.
Rylov’s ideas were ecosystemic in nature and were ahead
of their time; initially unnoticed, they have eventually been
incorporated into our modern theory of functioning of aquatic
ecosystems. But, as it is often the case, these ideas have
become so common that the names of their initiators have
gradually become forgotten.
This study was nancially supported by Russian Foundation
for Basic Research (grant No. 17-33-01046-ОГН). A more
detailed review can be found in: Rizhinashvili A. 2019. Journal
of the History of Biology doi:10.1007/s10739-019-09590-5.
Dr. Alexandra Rizhinashvili
Senior Researcher
St.Petersburg Branch of the S.I. Vavilov Institute
for the History of Science and Technology,
The Russian Academy of Sciences
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