The agreement was concluded on the exchange of staff, post-graduate students, on joint internships, and expeditions
The Laverov Federal Centre for Integrated Arctic Research (the Russian Academy of Sciences' Urals Branch, Arkhangelsk) will cooperate with the University of Toamasina (the Republic of Madagascar) on studies of biota of reservoirs to assess the continental drift, the climate change effects, as well as on teaching genetic research methods, the Centre's Director told TASS.
The Centre’s Director said an agreement with the university had been signed and for the Centre the university would be the first partner in Africa.
The signed agreement is on the exchange of staff, post-graduate students, on joint internships, and expeditions. We have several areas for cooperation, he continued.
The joint work's first area is to study freshwater invertebrates, primarily freshwater mollusks (naiads). This is part of the Centre's research to model continental drift and to see what role the separation and interaction of ancient continents had on the formation of flora and fauna in different parts of the planet.
Some 335 - 175 million years ago, there was one supercontinent on the Earth - Pangaea, which later on split into two supercontinents: Gondwana and Laurasia. Laurasia included North America and Eurasia, Gondwana - Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, and Hindustan.
Madagascar occupied an intermediate position, it was stuck to Gondwana. And India also got stuck to Madagascar on the way to Eurasia, the scientist explained. It's interesting to see how freshwater mollusks that live in Madagascar relate evolutionarily to those that live in Africa or to those that presently live in India.
Scientists from Arkhangelsk have been creating a supercomputer model using a dating method, which is based on the so-called molecular clock, that is, the researchers see when certain species moved away from their closely related groups. By studying the evolutionary biogeography of the island's freshwater mollusks, they will clarify the time when Africa, Madagascar and India separated, which is important for calibrating geological data on the time of this event.
The University of Toamasina is Madagascar's leading organisation to study the island's freshwater ecosystems. The Russian Centre will receive assistance in obtaining necessary permits for field works and work on remote hard-to-reach reservoirs.
Another direction of the joint research is related to geographical peculiarities of land territories in the Russian Federation's Arctic Zone and Madagascar relative to the polar regions. Accordingly, the Arctic and the Antarctic have impacts on coastal processes, climatic and hydrological conditions, on the conditions of human activities and agriculture, and on infrastructures.
Madagascar is currently experiencing the climate change effects like the territory desiccation, resulting in problems with water resources. Therefore, the scientists plan to study the island's water reserves.
The University of Toamasina's specialists will be able to master advanced molecular methods in studying the flora and fauna of the island, and to work on scientific equipment at the Centre, as well as to join scientific internships in Arkhangelsk, Russia, in particular, focusing on genetic research technologies.