NAS Karadag Nature Reserve was organized in 1979 on the base of Karadag research station named after T. I. Vyazemskiy and founded by him back in 1914 (from 1963 it has been the Karadag Branch of the Institute of Biology of the Soutern Seas under AS of UkrSSR).
In 2001 the plant and animal life of Karadag Nature Reserve and its unique library of old XVII–XIX-century books, gathered by T. I. Viazemskiy, were declared the National Asset of Ukraine. In 2004 the aquatic-cliff complex of Karadag has been added to the list of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention).
Main lines of research activities of the Reserve are: conservation of the natural complexes and biological variety within its borders and on the adjacent territories of the South-East Crimea, where conservation is possible; integral studies of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, of natural processes, trends in their changes, as well as fundamental and applied research in natural sciences (physiology and biochemistry of marine organisms, study of the sensory systems of sea mammalls and other issues of water animals and plants adaptation; development of scientific fundamentsls and approbation of various forms of ecological education; training scientists in nature conservation and biology; biota studies.
Karadag is ruins of an ancient Jurassic volcano, which was active nearly 150 million years ago. Karadag Nature Reserve occupies the area of 2874 ha. It is a unique haven of landscape and biological diversity (2870 flora species and 5350 fauna species), a gene pool of rare plant and animal species, a kind of refuge of Mediterranean fauna in the Crimea.
Research achievements of Reserve’s scientists involve a present-day estimate of the basic biodiversity parameters and descriptions of new-for-science taxa and new-for-Ukraine plant and animal genera and species.
An inventory of all nature complexes of the Reserve was done. The Karadag plant species list covers 859 аlgae, 313 lichens, 76 mosses, 435 fungus species, 1175 species of higher vascular plants, including 53 endemic plants. 78 species of the Karadag flora are included in the Red Book of Ukraine, 33 – in the European Red List, 19 species – in the International Red List, 23 – in the List of SITES Convention and 8 – in the list of Bern Convention. Monitoring of rare flora species permitted the researchers to describe the processes of rare species dissemination over Reserve’s territory, including that of the majority of Orchidaceae.
The fauna of Karadag includes over 1700 butterfly species, over 350 soil mite species, 222 spiders, 114 fishes, 4 amphibians, 8 reptiles, 232 birds, 35 species of mammals. The Red Data Book of Ukraine contains 135 species of Karadag fauna, the list of Bonn Convention – 75, that of Bern Convention – 196, SITES Convention – 53 species, the International Red List – 22 species, the European Red List – 29.
The sites of ecological education in the Reserve are ecological trails, Karadag Nature Museum, its dolphinarium and aquarium.