Rationale and Scope

Inventory of existing collections.—Museum collections of Sakhalin plants and animals are almost nonexistent outside Russia. As far as we could discover, Japanese collections are limited to plants, insects, and fishes, most of which were collected from very limited parts of southern Sakhalin before World War II: several thousand specimens of vascular plants studied by Miyabe and Miyake (1915), Kudo (1924), and Sugawara (1937-1940), and now deposited at the Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University; about 10,000 insects (the butterflies and moths of which were studied by Nakahara, 1924; Matsumura, 1925; and Tamanuki, 1929), also archived at the Faculty of Agriculture, Hokkaido University; and less than 100 specimens of fishes, studied in part by Tanaka (1908), Tomiyama (1936), Miyadi and Ishii (1939a, 1939b), and Sato (1942) are deposited at the Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University; the National Science Museum, Tokyo; and the University Museum, University of Tokyo. In the last decade, as a result of perestroika, some brief collecting trips by Japanese ecologists and resource scientists have produced collections, but these specimens, held in private collections, have not yet been made available to the scientific community (M. Yabe, pers. comm., 4 October 1999).

Small but significant collections of Sakhalin plants and animals do exist, however, in the various institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, primarily at Vladivostok, Magadan, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novosibirsk, and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (in preparing this proposal, detailed estimates of the numbers of lots of Sakhalin plants and animals in Russian institutions were compiled, but space restrictions prevent inclusion of this material here). Smaller collections exist at Perm, Alma-Ata, and Bishkek, and many private collections are maintained by Russian scientists as well. As part of this request, we propose to produce computerized inventories of all Sakhalin Island material found in these collections.

Study sites.—We propose to survey all available habitats of Sakhalin Island, from sea-level sandy-, rocky-beach, and grassland-meadow to high-mountain conifer forest; from deep slow-moving lowland rivers to fast-flowing gravelly streams; and from ponds, swamps, and sphagnum bogs to high mountain lakes.

Taxonomic breadth.—Our focus will be on freshwater and terrestrial organisms, these being (1) far more vulnerable to adverse human impact and exploitation, and (2) more likely to provide the basis for significant future research (e.g., island biogeography). Within this selected assemblage—and to be comparable with the goals of the Kuril Island Project—we propose to sample lichens, mosses, liverworts, fungi, plants, insects, spiders, freshwater and terrestrial mollusks, freshwater and anadromous fishes, amphibians, and reptiles. Criteria for inclusion of various taxa include (1) those groups likely to display high levels of local endemism among subtaxa, (2) groups especially vulnerable to human impact, (3) groups comparable to those taxa surveyed during our seven seasons of collecting on the Kuril Islands, and (4) those taxa within the interest and expertise of personnel at the collaborating institutions. Additional taxa, especially birds and terrestrial mammals, would be highly desirable, but logistically impossible: limited space aboard the research vessel (see Available Facilities, p. 13) restricts the number of specialists to 12 for each participating nation, and with the inclusion of students being absolutely mandatory, there is simply no space. The rationale here is to concentrate our efforts and resources on the least known taxa (for a recent monograph on the birds of Sakhalin, see Nechaev, 1991).

In preparing this proposal, detailed descriptions of the macro- and microhabitats of Sakhalin, an outline of the basic floral communities of the island, and extensive lists of the known species of plants and animals were compiled. Space permits, however, only the following brief outline of what is known about each selected taxon:

Lichens: The almost total lack of published information on the lichen flora of Sakhalin Island, and the overall scarcity of lichen knowledge for the greater Russian Far East, indicate an obvious need for primary exploration and voucher collection on Sakhalin. The island supports at least 230 species (in some 50 genera, 30 families, and eight orders), but this number is no doubt conservative—there are no published checklists for the region (Tschabanenko, 1995). The lichens of Sakhalin belong to a number of distribution types: the boreal coniferous group as represented by Cladina stellaris (Ahti, 1977), the temperate and Far Eastern Asiatic group as represented by Glossodium japonicum (Sato, 1958), the Arctic or sub-Arctic group as represented by Cetraria crispa var. japonica (Sato, 1959), and the cosmopolitan group as represented by Thamnolia vermicularis (Sato, 1962). The degree of endemism is unknown: endemism among lichen species in the Pacific Northwest is about 18% (Noble, 1982) and we predict the level to be at least as high in the temperate regions of the Far East. The most significant discoveries will take place in the micro-lichen groups, such as in the orders Caliciales, Lichinales, and Graphidales. Recent studies by Tønsberg (pers. comm., 12 November 1999, 5 October 2000) and Henssen and Tønsberg (2000) revealed a number of new species on Hokkaido and on the adjacent Kuril Islands; it is expected that these corticolous crusts will occur on Sakhalin Island as well. A detailed survey of the kind proposed here will contribute not only to our immediate understanding of Sakhalin lichens, but also to a greater understanding of lichen speciation, global biodiversity, and biogeography (S. L. Joneson and K. A. Glew, pers. comm., 9 October 2000).

Mosses and Liverworts: Although 664 species of mosses and liverworts have been reported from the Russian Far East, the unique and distinct bryophyte flora of this region (with at least 130 endemic species and a large number of endemic genera, e.g., Bartramiopsis, Brotherella, Drummondia, and Pleuroziopsis) remains largely unexplored (Ignatov, 1993). The mosses and liverworts of Sakhalin are very poorly known, especially those that occur in the northern half of the island. As presently reported, the moss flora consists of 247 species, in 98 genera and 41 families, whereas liverworts consist of some 37 species in 28 genera and 17 families (Lindberg, 1872; Okamura, 1915, 1916; Horikawa, 1935a, 1935b, 1936, 1939; Savitch, 1936; Kamimura, 1939; Ardeeva, 1969; Cherdantseva, 1976). These numbers, however, will certainly increase dramatically as a result of intense collecting in the north, particularly in the low-mountain regions of the Schmidt Peninsula and the high central elevations. New records and new species can be exp0ected within taxonomically difficult groups such as the moss families Bryaceae, Brachytheciaceae, Amblystegiaceae, and Hypnaceae, and the liverwort families Gymnomitriaceae and Jungermanniaceae. We estimate that a survey such as that described here will increase the total number of known bryophyte species of Sakhalin to at least 320 (V. Y. Cherdantseva, pers. comm., 5 October 2000; M. Higuchi, pers. comm., 12 October 2000; and J. A. Harpel, pers. comm., 13 October 2000).

Fungi: The limited collecting on Sakhalin to date indicates a rich and diverse mycobiota. About 250 species of macromycetes (basidiomycetes and ascomycetes) have been collected to date (Iwade, 1944; Vasilyeva and Nazarova, 1963, 1972; Ljubarsky and Vasilyeva, 1972; Vasilyeva, 1973; Kullman, 1982; Bulakh et al., 1990; Raitviir, 1991; Kovalenko, 1995), primarily from the areas of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Dolinsk, Kholmsk, and Nevelsk. However, the number of species could exceed 1,000 (excluding lichens) if a full range of habitats is explored, including the Scmidt Peninsula, Sakhalin-Krutoy, Agnevsky, Kamyshovyy and Central Ranges, as well as the Vostochno-Sakhalinskye Mountains, Cape Aniva, and Cape Krill.. The fungus species richness for a given area is closely associated with a number of biotic and abiotic factors including vegetation, climate, edaphic factors, geologic history, and geographical location. Species reported from Sakhalin Island, for example, Mycena oregonensis, Mycena tenax, Bondarzewia messenterica (montana), and Inonotus dryophilus, indicate strong ties with the north temperate boreal and montane mycota of North America, Asia and Europe. These and other species collected to date indicate a rich and diverse mycobiota; very likely to contain several undescribed species of macromycetes (A. Bogachova, pers. comm., 4 October 2000; E. M. Bulakh, pers. comm., 10 October 2000; J. F. Ammirati, pers. comm., 13 October 2000).

Plants: As presently understood, the flora of Sakhalin consists of 1,402 species in 526 genera and 127 families (Tolmatchev, 1959; Vorobiev et al., 1974; Kharkevich, 1985-1996). One genus (Miyakea) and 35 species are endemic to the island (e.g., Callianthemum sachalinense, Miyakea integrifolia, Pulsatilla sachalinensis, Pulsatilla tatewakiana, Salix kimurana, Saxifraga yoshimurae, Oxytropis sachalinensis, Artemisia limosa, and Stenanthium sachalinense). These numbers, however, will almost certainly increase as a result of intense collecting in remote areas of the island, particularly the low-mountain regions of the Schmidt Peninsula and the high central elevations (Vyshin and Barkalov, 1989). New species and new records are likely to be discovered within the most poorly known and taxonomically difficult genera (e.g., Aconitum, Salix, Oxytropis, Saussurea, Taraxacum, Poa, and Carex) (Popov, 1970). Overall, it is predicted that a survey of the kind we propose here will increase the number of known plant species to more than 1,500 (V. Y. Barkalov, pers. comm., 6 October 1999).

Insects: The insects of Sakhalin are considerably less well known than those of the Kuril Islands and the Asian mainland: a database maintained by the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences (IBSS), Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladivostok, based on the published scientific literature but also on unreported material in Russian collections, lists only 1,753 species (Collembola, 8 species; Ephemeroptera, 24; Odonata, 26; Plecoptera, 36; Blattoptera, 1; Dermaptera, 3; Orthoptera, 25; Psocoptera, 14; Thysanoptera, 10; Homoptera, 197; Hemiptera, 209; Coleoptera, about 1,200 species). Larger taxa, such as the Diptera, Hymenoptera, and Lepidoptera, are so poorly known that entomologists are unwilling to venture a guess as to numbers of species. Despite its close proximity to the Asian continent and an area that is nearly five times that of all the Kuril Islands put together, the numbers of species of various insect taxa recorded from Sakhalin are about the same as or considerably less than the numbers known to inhabit the Kurils: 28 and 32 species of ants (Kupyanskaya, 1990; Terayama et al., 1998; Kupyanskaya et al, in prep.), 42 and 41 stoneflies (Zhiltzova and Levanidova, 1984; Zhiltzova and Teslenko, 1997; Zhiltzova, 1999), 117 and 120 caddisflies (Vshivkova, 1986, 1989; Vshivkova and Kholin, 1996), 27 and 33 mayflies (Tiunova, 1984, 1986, 1989; Tshernova et al., 1986), 152 and 189 carabid beetles (IBSS database), and 2 and 43 phorid flies (Michailovskaya, 1998), respectively. Recent reviews of the diving beetles (Dytiscidae) of Sakhalin (Nilsson and Kholin, 1994; Nilsson et al., 1997, 1999) have increased the number of known species that inhabit the island from 25 to 39, an increase of 56%. The same level of increase in all major insect taxa can be expected from the kind of detailed survey that we propose (A. L. Lelej, S. Y. Storozhenko, and V. V. Teslenko, pers. comm., 24 September 1999).

Spiders: Spiders are one of the least studied animal groups of the Russian Far East and those of Sakhalin Island are almost completely unknown. Until the mid-1980s, the only information available was scattered in a few small papers, published primarily by Japanese arachnologists in the 1930s (e.g., Saito, 1932, 1934, 1935a, 1935b). Eskov (e.g., 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992) added significantly to the spider literature of eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, in a long series of papers beginning in 1986 (for a full bibliography, see Marusik et al., 1992). But a recent checklist of the spiders of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands (Marusik et al., 1992) indicates that only scattered localities on Sakhalin have been sampled and only 337 species have been recorded for the entire island. The actual number of species may well be an order of magnitude higher (Y. M. Marusik, pers. comm., 24 September 1999).

Freshwater and terrestrial mollusks: Very little has been published on the molluscan fauna of Sakhalin and only a few poor collections exist in the various institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Vladivostok, St. Petersburg, and Moscow. Only 54 species of terrestrial and freshwater mollusks in 35 genera and 22 families are presently recorded from Sakhalin: 19 species of terrestrial gastropods in 15 genera and 12 families (Schileyko, 1978; Likharev and Victor, 1980; Schileyko and Likharev, 1986), 18 species of freshwater gastropods in 7 genera and 7 families (Bogatov and Zatravkin, 1990; Prozorova, 1996, 1997; Prozorova and Starobogatov, 1998), and 17 species of bivalves in 13 genera and 5 families (Kluchareva et al., 1964; Zatravkin and Bogatov, 1987; Labay and Shulga, 1999). For comparison, the islands of the Kuril Archipelago provide habitat for at least 124 species: 42 species of terrestrial gastropods, 25 species of freshwater gastropods, and 57 species of bivalves. Clearly, there are numerous additional species yet to be discovered on Sakhalin—it is estimated that no more than 25% of the taxa is presently known (L. A. Prozorova, pers. comm., 10 August 2000).

Freshwater fishes: As presently understood, the diadromous, brackish, and freshwater fish fauna of Sakhalin Island consists of 63 species in 45 genera and 23 families (Taranetz, 1937; Berg, 1948-1949; Reshetnikov et al., 1997). These numbers are based largely on work confined to the southernmost tip of the island (i.e., south of the mouth of the Poronay River; see Nikoforov et al., 1994). Very little systematic collecting has been carried out in more northern parts of the island. The only known exceptions are small isolated collections made in two river basins—the Langra and Chingay rivers, the drainages of which are isolated from those of the rest of the island—and one lake (Lake Sladkoe) in the extreme northwestern part of the island (Nikoforov et al., 1989). While we do not expect to discover new species (although we were surprised to find two undescribed species of freshwater fishes in the Kuril Islands), new records and range extensions are highly probable, as are collections likely to resolve taxonomic confusion within various large, complex taxa (e.g., families Osmeridae, Cyprinidae, Cobitidae, and Gobiidae) (S. V. Shedko, pers. comm., 28 September 1999).

Amphibians and reptiles: Seven species of amphibians and reptiles are recorded from Sakhalin: one salamander (Salamandrella keyserlingi), three frogs (Rana amurensis, Rana chensinensis, and Hyla japonica), a toad (Bufo bufo), a lizard (Lacerta vivipara), and a snake (Vipera berus) (Emel'anov, 1935; Perelishin and Terent'ev, 1963). Nearly all have been recorded from only three small areas: in the southern part of the island (south of the Isthmus of Poyasok), in the central valley along the Poronay River, and in the vicinity of the far northern town of Okha. The rest of the island has never been sampled herpetologically. Range extensions and perhaps new records can be expected from the east and west coasts of the island, on the Schmidt Peninsula, and on Moneron Island (V. A. Kostenko, pers. comm., 3 October 1999 and 6 October 2000).

Cooperating organizations and agencies.—The work will be shared almost exclusively by personnel from three organizations: (1) the University of Washington Burke Museum, Seattle; (2) institutes of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences at Vladivostok (primarily the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences); and (3) various campuses and departments of Hokkaido University, Japan.

The Burke is Washington's state museum of natural history and culture, the only major natural history museum in the Pacific Northwest. The museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums. Its three scientific divisions of Anthropology, Geology, and Zoology contain nationally ranked collections totaling over six million specimens. The zoological collections are especially strong in birds, mammals, fishes, spiders, butterflies, and other terrestrial invertebrates. The herbarium, supported and administered by the UW Department of Botany, is a nationally ranked collection of over 500,000 specimens; while its primary focus is northwestern North America, it is worldwide in scope, including material from Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, Kamchatka, the Kuril Islands, Siberia, and Japan.

The various institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far East Branch, have jurisdiction over all basic and applied science conducted in the Russian Far East, including Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences in Vladivostok is responsible for studies of biodiversity, ecology and evolution of plants and animals, and development of modern technologies for the rationale use, conservation, and restoration of biological and soil resources of the Far East (M. K. Glubokovsky, pers. comm., 6 August 1993). Large, well-curated, and properly housed collections of plants and all major taxa of animals are maintained on the premises (although material specifically from Sakhalin is not very well represented; pers. obs., 22-29 March 1993, and numerous subsequent observations).

Hokkaido University, with campuses in Sapporo and Hakodate, originated from the Hokkaido Development Office Temporary School founded in 1872 for the purpose of training pioneers to open up and develop Hokkaido. A School of Fisheries was established at Sapporo in 1907; originally part of the Sapporo Agricultural College, it later moved to Hakodate to become the Faculty of Fisheries. In 1930 the Faculty of Science was established. Currently, the University has twelve faculties, three research institutes, and thirteen research centers. Collections are strongest in vascular plants, maintained primarily by the Botanical Garden of the Faculty of Agriculture at Sapporo; and fishes, held by the Faculty of Fisheries on the Hakodate campus (K. Amaoka, pers. comm., 8 September 1993).

Project participants and responsibilities.—The project will be directed and administered by the principal investigator, T. W. Pietsch, through the University of Washington Burke Museum, Seattle. Pietsch will take overall responsibility for pre-expedition planning, overseeing all aspects of the fieldwork, supervising post-expedition curation and dissemination of specimens, overseeing production and content of the web-site, and coordinating the production of reports and publications. The responsible individual in Russia will be V. V. Bogatov, Deputy Chief Academic Secretary and Chief of Scientific Investigations, Russian Academy of Sciences, Far East Branch, Vladivostok. The responsible individual in Japan will be Mamoru Yabe, Faculty of Fisheries, Hokkaido University, Hakodate, Japan. Each of these three primary participants will direct and be responsible for the work carried out by personnel of his respective country.

Three senior scientists, one from each participating country, will take responsibility for coordinating field activities for each major taxon. All senior personnel have had extensive field experience within their particular area of expertise and many are long-time veterans of our extensive survey work in the Kuril Islands (see Letters of Commitment from project participants).

  • Lichens: Katherine A. Glew (University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington), Irina A. Galanina (RAS-Vladivostok), and Hiroyuki Kashiwadani (National Science Museum, Tokyo).

  • Mosses and Liverworts: Judith A. Harpel (U.S. Forest Service, Vancouver, Washington), Valentina Y. Cherdantseva (RAS-Vladivostok), and Masanobu Higuchi (National Science Museum, Tokyo).

  • Fungi: Joseph F. Ammirati (UW), Evgeniya M. Bulakh (RAS-Vladivostok), and Eiji Nagasawa (Tottori Mycological Institute, Tottori).

  • Plants: Richard G. Olmstead (UW), Vyatcheslav Y. Barkalov (RAS-Vladivostok), and Hideki Takahashi (HU-Sapporo).

  • Insects: John S. Edwards (UW), Arkadii S. Lelej (RAS-Vladivostok), and Masahiro Ôhara (HU-Sapporo).

  • Spiders and harvesters: Rodney L. Crawford (UW), Yuri M. Marusik (RAS-Magadan), and Nobuo Tsurusaki (Tottori University, Tottori, Japan).

  • Freshwater and terrestrial mollusks: Gregory C. Jensen (UW), Viktor V. Bogatov (RAS-Vladivostok), and Haruo Katakura (HU-Sapporo).

  • Freshwater and anadromous fishes: T. W. Pietsch (UW), Dmitry L. Pitruk (RAS-Vladivostok), and Mamoru Yabe (HU-Hakodate).

  • Amphibians and reptiles: T. W. Pietsch (UW), Viktor A. Kostenko (RAS-Vladivostok), Sen Takenaka (Hokkaido Tokai University, Sapporo).

Scott V. Edwards, Associate Professor of Zoology and Curator of Genetic Resources, Burke Museum, will coordinate all activities relative to animal tissue collections, taking responsibility for proper collection standards and procedures, the subsequent care and maintenance of tissues, their proper documentation, and their final shipment to Seattle for permanent storage at the Museum. Subsequent to the fieldwork, he will direct the future analysis of genetic differentiation, molecular systematics, and molecular studies of the history of colonization of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. He will also coordinate collaborative work with Russian and Japanese institutions and assure compatibility of results and optimal use of the tissue samples.

A skilled database manager and webmaster—responsible for data-entry protocol and standards, maintaining and updating the database, disseminating data via the Internet, and creating and maintaining an “Okhotsk Regional Biotic Survey” web-site (log-on to Okhotskia.ws and click on links to the existing Kuril Island site, Phase 1, and to our new Sakhalin Island site, Phase 2)—is essential to the success of this program (see Data Acquisition and Dissemination of Information, p. 13). A half-time position for twelve months per year over the five-year life of the project is required (see Budget Justification).

Additional personnel will include a professional entomologist, a post-doctoral student responsible for coordinating everything related to insects: sorting, identifying, and curating material; organizing and supervising the work of students assigned to insects; preparing loans and gifts; conducting biosystematic research on specific taxa of choice, etc. Our single greatest problem with the Kuril Island project has been dealing with the great diversity and vast number of insect specimens that we have collected since 1994 (just under 206,000 specimens, excluding juveniles and immature stages). Professional help with this taxon will be required as we begin to amass material from the much more entomologically diverse habitats of Sakhalin.

Other personnel will include students from all three participating nations. These will be primarily graduate students but undergraduates will be heavily involved as well. At least eight students (four graduate and four undergraduates) from the University of Washington will participate in field and laboratory activities during each year of the project. In some cases, Russian and Japanese government biologists and technicians will also participate. To the extent possible, we will include a disproportionate number of Russian participants in an effort to augment the biodiversity infrastructure of the host country.

Training.—A high percentage of the personnel associated with the field aspect of the project will be graduate students involved in various research projects in each of the seven major taxa under consideration. All will be given the opportunity to interact with, and receive training from, experts from all three participating nations. Each will take a full and active role in all major aspects of the work: collecting, identification, curation, and data collection and analysis. They will also share authorship and be full participants in the preparation of reports and publications. The provision to provide support for Russian and Japanese students to visit and work with collections at the Burke Museum, University of Washington, will be a further benefit to those whose future mandate will more directly lie with the long-term conservation and preservation of Russian Far East biotas. It is further envisioned (with financial assistance other than that requested here) that post-doctoral positions might be offered to particularly well-qualified Russian and Japanese students to allow for more long-term study at the University of Washington.

Urgency.—While most of Sakhalin now supports relatively undisturbed assemblages of plants and animals, the current economic situation poses a serious environmental threat, especially to the central and northern parts of the island, which are rapidly being developed and exploited for their rich deposits of oil and gas, and whose biota is considerably less well known than the southern part of the island. Russian policy at present is to populate and otherwise exploit the island as quickly and as extensively as possible. In 1993, then Russian President Boris Yeltsin, hoping to stimulate the economy and attract foreign investments, declared Sakhalin (as well as the Kuril Islands) a “Free Economic Zone,” providing tax advantages to businesses, and offering land at reduced rates and 99-year leases; priority has been given to exploitation of “natural resources” (e.g., oil and gas recovery, mining, and deforestation; M. K. Glubokovsky, pers. comm., 26 July 1993). The speed and extent to which habitats are being threatened on Sakhalin can be measured in part by the enormous amount of information on natural resource exploitation available on the Internet (search on “Sakhalin” and log on to any of a host of relevant sites, e.g., “Sakhalin Oil & Gas News,” “Mobil and Texaco Sign Agreement,” “Remote Sakhalin Thirsts for Oil Boom,” “Exxon to Drill in Sakhalin Fields,” “Sakhalin Forests: Urgent Action Alert”). It is imperative that we act now to explore, document, and protect the unique and delicate flora and fauna of this island before they are lost forever.

Copyright © University of Washington Fish Collection.