The flora and fauna of the Russian Far East have been studied for over 150 years already, and the major contribution to these studies has been made by the botanists, zoologists, and mycologists from the research institutes of Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. However, after the dissolution of the USSR regional biodiversity studies have centred in Vladivostok. It became obvious in the 1990s that the inventory of the flora and fauna of the Russian Far East, particularly of the Peter the Great Bay, should be made. In 1997 The List of Animals, Plants, and Fungi of the Intertidal Zone of the Russian Far East was published (Kussakin et al., 1997), and The Taxonomic Catalogue of the Biota of the Peter the Great Bay, Sea of Japan was published one year later (Adrianov, Kussakin, 1998). A rare word “biota” has become a key term in Russian biological literature, largely due to the works of Oleg Grigorievich Kussakin. Oleg Kussakin played a vital part in developing the main principles of the future Biota series, having an experience as the author and co-author of the multi-volume work Identification Keys to the Fauna of the USSR. He knew nearly all famous Russian taxonomists and gathered a team of authors for the Biota project. In 1998 the IMB Scientific Council adopted a final decision to start the publication of Biota. Despite the fact that the word combination “northwestern part of the Sea of Japan” had been previously widely distributed among Russian hydrobiologists, the name chosen for the multi-volume work was Biota of the Russian Waters of the Sea of Japan.
Many groups of organisms inhabiting the Sea of Japan have been minimally studied. Among those are the majority of prokaryotes, symbiotic flagellates, amoebas, heliozoans, orthonectids, gastrotrichs, oligochaetes, and halacarid mites. Scarcely studied are the species compositions of free-living ciliates, rotifers, and harpacticoids. Most species of gregarines, turbellarians, nemerteans, nematodes, ostracods, and parasitic crustaceans have not yet been described. On the other hand, such groups as dinoflagellates, cephalorhynchs, brachiopods, bivalves, isopods, and fishes have been relatively well investigated. We may forecast more than 5 thousand species of animals, plants, and fungi inhabiting the Russian waters of the Sea of Japan. As many groups of organisms are not still adequately studied or need taxonomic reviews, the volumes of this serial publication are issued on a first-come-first-served basis rather than according to systematic relationships among taxa. By 2003, 67 specialists have confirmed their participation in the project, namely specialists from the Institute of Marine Biology, FEB RAS; Pacific Institute of Oceanology, FEB RAS; Pacific Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, FEB RAS; Pacific Institute of Geography, FEB RAS; Far-Eastern National University; Moscow State University; Saint-Petersburg State University; Zoological Institute, RAS; Botanical Institute, RAS; Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, RAS; Papanin Institute for Biology of Inland Waters, RAS; Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, RAS; Institute of Ecology of Natural Systems, Academy of Sciences, Tatarstan; Kharkiv National University; and the Institute of Biology of the Southern Seas, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine. Until 2005 the IMB FEB RAS Director Vladimir Leonidovich Kasyanov was Chief Editor of the Biota series. He added several more authors for this work. Now the series is edited by Andrey Vladimirovich Adrianov.
Ten volumes have already been published on several groups of crustaceans, sea spiders, prokaryotic bacteria, phoronids, brachiopods, turbellarians of the Order Polycladida, oligochaetes, leeches, echiurans, reptiles, and dinoflagellates. The next volumes are being written on sponges and some groups of fishes. Each volume generalises both published and new data, and this always reveals some species, new for science and/or for the region. We currently have more or less full information on the species composition of several groups of marine organisms inhabiting the Sea of Japan (vascular plants, fishes, marine mammals, birds, and some invertebrates). Many groups, which have previously been considered thoroughly studied (e.g. bivalves, cnidarians, decapods, and others), now have to be taxonomically revised by use of type material. It is therefore a long-term project contributed by distinguished national taxonomists and, as is anticipated, by eminent specialists from other countries as well.
The present Internet site is aimed at providing ready access to the information (texts and illustrations) published in the Biota series. For this purpose, the texts have been adapted for a wide range of users. It is expected that the site will be updated as soon as new data are received.