Department of Vertebrate Zoology is one of the oldest departments of the Biological Faculty of Lomonosov Moscow State University. It was established in 1804 and finally set in 1885, headed at that time by the prominent Russian zoologist M.A. Menzbier.
The Department studies the representatives of four classes of terrestrial vertebrates - Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals. More than two dozens of special courses are included in the educational programme of the Department. Biological diversity of vertebrates is described in the course of Biology and Systematics of Vertebrates. Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates and Extensive Practical Course on Anatomy provide an overview on morphological structure and evolution of organs in Chordata. Evolution of vertebrates and patterns of their distribution are discussed in the lectures on Palaeozoology and Zoogeography. Various aspects of ecology are introduced in the courses of History of Ecology and Animal Ecology. Characteristics of behaviour of Vertebrates are reflected in the lectures on Animal Behaviour, Communication and Bioacoustics. The students improve their practical skills in the courses of Microtechniques, Computer Methods in Biology and Methods of Field Research. The courses of Medical Zoology and Animal Conservation are devoted to the applied aspects of zoology. A new course of Molecular Methods in Systematics and Ecology has been introduced recently. Students’ practical skills of field research and ability to work in a team are developed during summer and winter field training courses conducted in various regions of Russia. The Department also has a Zoological Club for schoolchildren.
The Department includes five research laboratories. The oldest of them is the Laboratory of Evolutionary Morphology. Among its basic activities are comparative and functional studies of musculoskeletal complexes. Laboratory of Ornithology deals with avian systematics, energetics, the structure of bird fauna, ontogenesis of the sensory systems, problems of bird conservation and peculiarities of urbanization. Laboratory of Ecology of Terrestrial Vertebrates studies the structure of multi-species communities, ecological specialization of species on behavioural, morphological, physiological and genetic levels, various aspects of behavioural and sensory ecology as well as the problems of human transformation of the fauna and landscapes. The problems of ecology, systematics and microevolution of mammals, with an application of methods of molecular genetics, are investigated in the Laboratory of Theriology. Laboratory of Vertebrate Behaviour conducts research on the development of behavioural interactions in the higher vertebrates. Field research of scientists and postgraduate students of the Department covers the vast territory of Russia from the Black Sea coast to the Taimyr tundra and the Far East. The Department widely cooperates with educational and research centres in Germany, France, USA, Netherlands, Japan, the United Kingdom, Vietnam and Azerbaijan.