The department was created in 1933. Its first head was professor N. A. Zagorovsky – an expert on estuaries, one of the initiators of conducting biocenological research in the Odessa Gulf. After his death in 1934 the department was headed by assistant professor A. K. Makarov. Under his leadership researches of fishes and benthos in the northwestern part of the Black Sea, researches of estuaries were carried out.
After reevacuation of the university in 1944 professor A. R. Prendel became its head. He was known for his research of malarial mosquito and struggle against malaria in the north of the Black Sea Coast, hydrobiological research of fishery ponds of Odessa and other areas of Ukraine.
In 1955–1971 professor K. A. Vinogradov, the head of Odessa Hydrobiological Station of Academy of Science of Ukraine worked at the department. In 1964–1965 he was the acting manager of the department. Under his initiative the general course “General hydrobiology” was included into the curriculum and is taught to students-biologists up to now. At the same time the University got a ship for research works in the sea.
In 1965 the department was headed by F. S. Zambriborshch, an ichthyologist and hydrobiologist. In 1966 he defended thesis for the doctor's degree “Fish of the lower riches of rivers and estuaries of northwestern part of the Black Sea”. F. S. Zambriborshch published more than 110 scientific works. Under his leadership research on water toxicology began at the department. His nineteen post-graduate students successfully defended doctor's theses.
For some time the department was headed by ichthyologist professor V. S. Chepurnov who focused on studying of biology and dynamics of the number of fish of water bodies from Danube-Dniester interfluves and adjacent area of the North West Black Sea.
In the beginning of the 1980-s the department was headed by professor N. P. Novikov – an ichthyologist with wide experience of work in the World Ocean, in the Far East Seas, in the Black Sea. At that time at the department research in biology and ecology of some industrial Black Sea fishes were carried out.
In 1986 the department was joined with the department of zoology. Since 1990 it has been independent again, and is called the department of hydrobiology and the general ecology.
Candidate of biological sciences, senior lecturer N. E. Gusljakov, a specialist on diatom algae headed the department in 1990. In 2003 N. E. Gusljakov defended the thesis for doctor's degree «Diatoms of benthos of the Black Sea and adjacent reservoirs (morphology, systematic, ecology, biogeography)». Besides, N. E. Gusljakov was engaged also into ichthyologic subjects: he studied the reasons of mass death of introduced fish (Hypophthalmichtys molitrix, etc.) in the Danube lakes. During his work at biological faculty N. E. Gusljakov published more than 100 papers, including the monograph (with co-authors) «Atlas of diatom algae from benthos of northwestern part of the Black Sea and adjacent reservoirs» (1992).
Professor S. B. Grinbart began the research of zoobenthos and fouling in 1930-s of the XX century; he was the first who carried out quantitative research of benthos in the Odessa Gulf and estuaries. In 1967 he defended the thesis for the doctor's degree «Zoobentos of estuaries of the northwestern Black Sea Coast and adjacent sites of the sea». In 1970 he received an academic status of professor. Zooplankton of the Odessa Gulf and reservoirs of Odessa region were also studied in 1930-s by candidate of biological sciences G. I. Konoplyov in sanitary and hydrobiological aspect. From the early 1950s zooplankton of estuaries was studied by senior lecturer A. O. Bujanovskaja, later by candidate of biological sciences N. I. Stahorskaja and assistant L. D. Babanina; zoobenthos was studied by assistant L. S. Garba. Great contribution to study of ichthyoplankton of the northwest part of the Black Sea was made by assistant professor, candidate of biological sciences M. A. Vinnikova who published more than 90 works.
In 1991–1996 the studies in two directions were conducted on the department: studies of modern state of plankton, benthos and fish and clarification of level of contamination of coastal part of the sea near Odessa. As a result the recommendations for improvement of Odessa coast recreation and methods of hydrobiological monitoring were done.
In 1997–2005 the researchers of the department fulfilled three fundamental budget projects. Their main goal was to forecast the changes in physiological and biochemistry processes of unicellular algae in stress conditions. It was revealed that different factors affect the beginning stages of adaptive reactions that are aimed to eliminate influence of negative stressors. The intracellular mechanisms of primary adaptations of organisms to negative factors of environment were distinguished.
In the end of 1990-s and in early 2000-s the department was involved in studies connected with the identification of reasons of mass death of fish-invaders in the Danube Lakes.
In this period the biological diversity, biology and lining conditions of the marine organisms of Black and Azov Sea basin were studied. The biodiversity of phyto- and zoobenthos and periphyton, the state of bottom biocenoses in the coastal area of North West Black Sea were studied; the role of benthos and fouling as the feed base of benthic fish was determined; the sanitary significance of filter organisms was estimated. The modern data on distribution of commercial accumulation of the Black Sea anchovy in the Danube-Dniester interfluves, as well as near the Zniinyi Island. The age and sex composition, size-mass characteristics of this species were studied. The results of analysis of dynamics of qualitative and quantitative composition of ichthyoplankton in the Gulf of Odessa ere shown. The concept of biological monitoring of dangerous contaminants in the process of their migration in the catchment area river-sea.
In 2005–2015 the department was headed by the follower of professor F. S. Zambriborshch – candidate of biological sciences V. V. Zamorov. In 1993 he defended candidate thesis on the topic: «Feeding and trophic connections of Thunnus albacares (Bonn), Th. obesus (Lowe) and Alepisaurus ferox from the western part of the Indian Ocean». Now V. V. Zamorov studies biology and ecology of Gobiidae fish from the northwestern part of the Black Sea and coastal reservoirs, he works at the thesis for doctor's degree. He has published more than 80 works. Since 2006 he has held a post of the dean of Biological faculty.
Since 2015 Sc.D., associate professor V. O. Lobkov became the head of the Department of Hydrobiology and General Ecology. In 2014 he defended his doctoral thesis «Intrapopulation regulation of mammals' number by the example of ground squirrel (Spermophilus suslicus Guld.) and other species». V. O. Lobkov conducts research in population ecology, population dynamics of mammals. He works in the field of natural science museology; develops the technological bases of breeding and keeping of rare animal species that are threatened with extinction.
In 2007–2011 on the department a study on determining the distribution patterns of gobiid fish and macrozoobenthos under the meteo-, hydrological and hydro-chemical factors in coastal part of Odessa Gulf was conducted. 49 species of fish were noted after five years of research in the Odessa Gulf. New data on the dynamics and size distribution of five species of gobies, rapa whelk, six species of crabs were obtained. It was concluded that the number of rapa whelk on stone ridges in the Gulf remains rather high. A new species of anemones for the Black Sea was found and tubenose goby and stone crab was first recorded in the Odessa Gulf. The results of the studies indicate that coastal marine ecosystem is in good condition. However, they are still under the influence of the aggradation of sand that occurred in 2007 and the bottom biocenoses in shallow area in Odessa Gulf has not recovered yet.
Now on the department the population genetics of fish is covered by associate professor D. B. Radionov. Biology and ecology of gobiid fish studies senior lecturer, PhD, I. L. Ryzhko and senior lecturer Yu. V. Karavansky. In addition, Yu. V. Karavansky is highly skilled in of decorative fish breeding. With his active participation the courses on aquarium fish are opened on the department.
Senior Lecturer, PhD, A. A. Snigirova studies microphytobenthos of the Black Sea. Senior lecturer A. V. Cherniavsky is engaged in investigations of marine macrozoobenthos.
To involve to teaching the leading experts from academic institutions was a good tradition at the department. Thus, scientists of the Institute of Marine Biology of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (IMB NASU), Director of the Institute corresponding member of NAS of Ukraine Professor B. G. Aleksandrov; NAS of Ukraine, Professor Y. P. Zaitsev, heads of departments affiliate professor L. V. Vorobieva and associate professor S. E. Diatlov are actively involved in the educational process of the department and faculty.
Professor, Doctor of Biology, head of IMB of NAS of Ukraine B. G. Aleksandrov works at the department as a professor that leads to scientific cooperation between the department and academic science. He conducts research of environmental aspects of development and growth of marine invertebrates; products and biotic balance of coastal ecosystems; studies the value of marginal (contour) groups in the functioning of aquatic ecosystems; explores the environmental problems associated with alien species, in the Azov-Black Sea region; develops a methodology on biodiversity conservation of the Black Sea.
The marine research station is very important as a base of scientific research of all the departments of the faculty, student practice and degree studies. It is the center of underwater hydrobiological research in our region. Since 2003 marine research station is headed by Ph.D., assistant professor O. O. Kovtun, who actively developing underwater hydrobiological research, studying rare and endangered species of the Black Sea. He conducts studies of fauna and flora of the Black Sea and its estuaries to develop recommendations for their conservation and management; explores the biology and ecology of the main groups of microorganisms, algae, invertebrates and fish from caves and grottoes of the Black Sea.
The big assistance in carrying out classes and in scientific research is rendered by biologists O. L. Solovyova, A. O. Veretennikova.
Over the years of department existence 1,500 students, including more than 100 from other states, received a university diploma on the department. The department defended four doctoral and 60 master's theses.
It has been 80 years since the establishment of Hydrobiology and general ecology department. It may be noted that the current department makes a substantial contribution to the training of highly qualified specialists in biology (hydrobiologists and ichthyologists) and at a sufficiently high scientific level continues to explore the life of the Black Sea and continental waters south of Ukraine.