Looking at Russian Ecology Through the Biosphere Theory

  • Georgy S. Levit


The biosphere theory is crucial for all environmental sciences including scientific ecology. In Russia, the theory was from the very beginning a powerful factor affecting global and other holistic approaches in the life sciences. The theory was invented by Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863–1945), who is regarded as one of the most famous Russian naturalists. In the history of Russian science he is referred to as a “savant” and influential thinker in rather different fields such as biogeochemistry, radiogeology, or crystallography, and also philosophy of science. In recent times Vernadsky is becoming appreciated also in the Western world. James Lovelock, author of the Gaia-theory, wrote: “We discovered him to be our most illustrious predecessor” (Lovelock 1986).


Chemical Element Living Matter Soviet Scientist Global Ecology Global Science 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aksenov G (1994) On the scientific solitude of Vernadsky. Probl Philos 6:74–87 [in Russian]Google Scholar
  2. Bailes KE (1990) Science and Russian culture in an age of revolutions: V.I. Vernadsky and his scientific school, 1863–1945. Indiana University Press, Bloomigton/IndianapolisGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrow J, Tipler F (1986) The anthropic cosmoplogical principle. Claderon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Clarke FW (1908) Data of geochemistry. Government Printing Office, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  5. Dana JD (1852) Crustacea, Reprinted in 1972. Antiquariat Junk, LochemGoogle Scholar
  6. Degens ET (1989) Perspectives on biogeochemistry. Springer, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  7. Dobrovolsky VV (1998) Basics of biogeochemistry. Vyschaja Schkola, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  8. Dokuchaev VV (1898) The concept of zones in nature, 2nd edn., 1948. Moscow Geografgiz, [in Russ]Google Scholar
  9. Ehrlich HL (2002) Geomicrobiology, 4th edn. Marcel Dekker, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fenchel T, King GM, Blackburn TH (2000) Bacterial biogeochemistry: the ecophysiology of mineral cycling, 2nd edn. Academic, San Diego [u.a.], ReprintedGoogle Scholar
  11. Fersman AE (1923) Khimitcheskije elementy zemli i kosmosa (Chemical Elements of the Earth and the Cosmos). Khimtekhizdat, PetrogradGoogle Scholar
  12. Ghilarov AM (1995) Vernadsky’s biosphere concept: An historical perspective. Q Rev Biol 70(2):193–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Grinevald J (1996) Sketch for the History of the Idea of the Biosphere. In: Bunyard P (ed) Gaia in Action. Floris Books, Edinburgh, pp 115–135Google Scholar
  14. Hutchinson GE (1970) The biosphere. Sci Am 223(3):45–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kolchinsky EI (1990) The evolution of the biosphere. Nauka, Leningrad [in Russ]Google Scholar
  16. Kolchinsky E, Kozulina A (1998) The burden of choice: why did V.I. Vernadsky return to the Soviet Russia? Voprosy istorii estestvoznanija i tekhniki 3:3–25 [in Russian]Google Scholar
  17. Kolchinsky EI (2006) Biology in Germany and Russia-USSR. Nestor-Istorija, St.-Petersburg [in Russ]Google Scholar
  18. Kovalsky VV (1974) Geokhimitcheskaja ekologija [Geochemical ecology]. Nauka, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  19. Krumbein WE, Schellnhuber H-J (1992) Geophysiology of mineral deposits a model for a biological driving force of global changes through Earth history. Terra Nova 4:351–362CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krumbein WE, Lapo A (1996) Vernadsky’s biosphere as a basis of geophysiology. In: Bunyard P (ed) Gaia in action. Floris Books, Edinburgh, pp 115–135Google Scholar
  21. Lapo AV, Smyslov AA (1989) Biogeochemistry: the foundations laid by V.I. Vernadsky. In: Yanschin AL (ed) Scientific and social significance of Vernadsky’s creativity. Nauka, Moscow, pp 54–61 [in Russian]Google Scholar
  22. Lapo AV (2001) V.I. Vernadsky (1863–1945), the founder of the biosphere concept. Int Microbiol 4:47–49Google Scholar
  23. Levit GS, Krumbein WE (2000) The biosphere theory of V.I. Vernadsky and the Gaia theory of J. Lovelock: a comparative analysis of the two theories and two traditions. Zhurnal Obshchei Biologii (J Gen Biol) 61(2):133–144Google Scholar
  24. Levit GS (2001) Biogeochemistry, biosphere, noosphere: the growth of the theoretical system of Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky (1863–1945), Series: “Studien zur Theorie der Biologie” (Edited by Olaf Breidbach & Michael Weingarten). VWB-Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  25. Levit GS, Hoßfeld U (2005) Die Nomogenese: Eine Evolutionstheorie jenseits des Darwinismus und Lamarckismus. Verhandlungen zur Geschichte und Theorie der Biologie 11:367–388Google Scholar
  26. Libes SM (1992) An introduction to marine biogeochemistry. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Lovelock J (1972) Gaia as seen through the Atmosphere. Atmos Envir 6:579fCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lovelock J (1986) The biosphere. New Sci 1517:51Google Scholar
  29. Lovelock J, Margulis L (1974) Atmospheric Homeostasis by and for the biosphere: the Gaia hypothesis. Tellus 26:2–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Margulis L, Sagan D (1995) What is life? A Peter N. Nevraumont Book, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Margulis L(1996) James Lovelock’s Gaia. In: P. Bunyard (ed) Gaia in action. Floris Books, Edinburgh, pp 54–65Google Scholar
  32. Mochalov II (1982) Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky. Nauka, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  33. Oldfield JD, Schaw DJB (2006) V.I. Vernadsky and the noosphere concept: Russian understandings of society-nature interaction. Geoforum 37(1):145–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Por FD (1980) An ecological theory of animal progress – a revival of the philosophical role of zoology. Perspect Biol 23(3):389–399Google Scholar
  35. Rautian AS (2003) O nachalakh teorii evoliutzii mnogovidovykh soobstchestv i ee avtore (On the beginnings of the theory of multi-species communities evolution – phylocenogenesis – and its autor). In: Lubarsky G (ed) Zherikhin V.V. Izbrannyje trudy. KMK Press, Moscow, pp 1–42Google Scholar
  36. Schlesinger WH (1991) Biogeochemistry: an analysis of global change. Academic, San Diego [u.a.]Google Scholar
  37. Schlesinger WH (ed) (2004) Treatise on geochemistry – Vol. 8: Biogeochemistry. Elsevier Pergamon, Amsterdam (u.a.)Google Scholar
  38. Schlesinger WH (2006) Global change ecology. TREE 21(6):348–351PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Sewertzoff A.N. (1931) Morphologische Gesetzmäßigkeiten der Evolution. Gustav Fischer Verlag: JenaGoogle Scholar
  40. Sytnik K, Apanovich E, Stoiko S (1988) V.I. Vernadsky. Life and activity in the Ukraine. Naukova Dumka, Kiev [in Russian]Google Scholar
  41. Teilhard de Chardin P (1961) The phenomenon of man. Harper & Row, New York/EvanstonGoogle Scholar
  42. Timofeév-Ressovsky NV (1995) Vospominanija (memoirs). Progress, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  43. Timoféev-Ressovsky NW, Vononcov NN, Jablokov AN (1975) Kurzer Grundriss der Evolutionstheorie. Gustav Fischer Verlag, JenaGoogle Scholar
  44. Tjurjukanov AN, Fiodorov VM (1996) N.V. Timoféev-Ressovsky: Biosfernyje razdumja. AEN, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  45. Vernadsky VI (1902) O nauchnom mirovozzrenii (On the scientific worldview). Vorposy filosofii i psikhologii 1(65):1409–1465Google Scholar
  46. Vernadsky VI (1903) Osnovy kristallografii (The Fundamentals of Crystallography). Izdatelstvo Moskovskogo Universiteta, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  47. Vernadsky VI (1912) O gazovom obmene zemnoj kory (On gaseous exchange of the earth’s crust). Izvestija Imp Akad Nauk Serija 6 6(2):141–162Google Scholar
  48. Vernadsky VI (1924) La Géochemie. Alcan, ParisGoogle Scholar
  49. Vernadsky VI (1926) Biosfera. NHTI, LeningradGoogle Scholar
  50. Vernadsky VI (1929) La Biosphère. Alcan: ParisGoogle Scholar
  51. Vernadsky VI (1930) Geochemie in Ausgewählten Kapiteln. Autorisierte Übersetzung aus dem Russischen von Dr. E. Kordes. Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, LeipzigGoogle Scholar
  52. Vernadsky VI (1934) Le Problème du Temps dans la Science Contemporaine. Revue Génerale des Sciences Pures et Appliquees 45(20):550–558Google Scholar
  53. Vernadsky VI (1935) Le Problème du Temps dans la Science Contemporaine. Revue Génerale des Sciences Pures et Appliquees 46(7):208–213, 47(10): 308–312Google Scholar
  54. Vernadsky VI (1944) Problems of biogeochemistry. (Trans: George Vernadsky Ed and condensed: G E Hutchinson) Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, New Haven [u.a.]Google Scholar
  55. Vernadsky VI (1965) The chemical structure of the biosphere of the earth and of its environment. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  56. Vernadsky VI (1980) Problems of biogeochemistry. III, BIOGEL. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  57. Vernadsky VI (1988) Philosophical thoughts of naturalist. Nauka, Moscow, p 520 [in Russian]Google Scholar
  58. Vernadsky VI (1991) Scientific thought as a planetary phenomenon. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  59. Vernadsky VI (1994a) Works on geochemistry. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  60. Vernadsky VI (1994b) Living matter and the biosphere. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  61. Vernadsky VI (1997) Scientific thought as a planetary phenomenon. Nongovernmental Ecological V.I. Vernadsky Foundation, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  62. Vernadsky VI (1998) The biosphere. A Peter A. Nevraumont Book, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  63. Vinogradov AP (1953) The elementary chemical compositions of marine organisms. Memoir Sears Foundation for Marine Research II. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  64. Vinogradov AP (1993) The geochemistry of isotopes and the problems of biogeochemistry: selected works. Nauka, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar
  65. Zavarzin GA (1997) The rise of the biosphere. Microbiology/Microbiology 6(66):603–611Google Scholar
  66. Zavarzin GA (2003a) Evolution of the geosphere-biosphere system. Priroda 1:27–35 [in Russian]Google Scholar
  67. Zavarzin GA (2003b) Prirodovedcheskaja mikrobiologija (Naturalistic microbiology). Nauka, MoscowGoogle Scholar
  68. Zherikhin VV (2003) Izbrannyje trudy (selected papers). KMK Press, Moscow [in Russian]Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History of Science & Technology ProgramUniversity of King’s CollegeHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations