Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

Communities, interactions and communications in ecosystems

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   
4.03.00  Biotechnical sciences  Plant production   

Code Science Field
B003  Biomedical sciences  Ecology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
4.01  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
physiology, bioacoustics, taxonomy, zoology, metabolism, behavior, communication networks, speciation, ecology, conservation, biodiversity, monitoring, trophic interactions, pollinators, ecosystem services, pest management, sustainable development, biological invasions, environmental change
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (32)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  33663  Špela Ambrožič Ergaver    Technician  2019 - 2022  133 
2.  53408  PhD Matjaž Bedjanič  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  355 
3.  30854  PhD Danilo Bevk  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  452 
4.  06989  PhD Andrej Blejec  Mathematics    2017 - 2022  282 
5.  05221  PhD Anton Brancelj  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  592 
6.  36398  PhD Klemen Čandek  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  43 
7.  00691  PhD Andrej Čokl  Biology    2017 - 2022  339 
8.  55809  Urban Dajčman  Control and care of the environment  Junior researcher  2021 - 2022  28 
9.  34959  PhD Barbara Debeljak  Biology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2018  50 
10.  51983  Rok Janža  Biology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  18 
11.  18341  Andreja Jerebic    Technician  2017 - 2022  24 
12.  28001  Andrej Kapla    Technician  2019 - 2022  173 
13.  09211  PhD Boris Kryštufek  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  958 
14.  34501  PhD Anka Kuhelj  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2022  42 
15.  19326  PhD Matjaž Kuntner  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2022  486 
16.  53539  Juan Jose Lopez Diez  Biology  Junior researcher  2019 - 2022  10 
17.  51985  Tjaša Matjašič  Biology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  13 
18.  22615  PhD Nataša Mori  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  145 
19.  55621  PhD Žiga Ogorelec  Biology  Researcher  2022  17 
20.  36322  PhD Maja Opalički Slabe  Biology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2018  17 
21.  31231  PhD Jernej Polajnar  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  129 
22.  50565  Urška Ratajc  Biology  Junior researcher  2017 - 2022  38 
23.  15129  PhD Tatjana Simčič  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  160 
24.  33151  PhD David Stanković  Biotechnology  Researcher  2021 - 2022  109 
25.  19430  PhD Nataša Stritih Peljhan  Neurobiology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  94 
26.  38172  PhD Rok Šturm  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  35 
27.  10796  PhD Davorin Tome  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  677 
28.  10061  PhD Tomi Trilar  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  959 
29.  05231  PhD Meta Virant Doberlet  Biology  Principal Researcher  2017 - 2022  276 
30.  21502  PhD Al Vrezec  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  1,001 
31.  33669  PhD Anamarija Žagar  Control and care of the environment  Researcher  2018 - 2022  200 
32.  24937  PhD Alenka Žunič Kosi  Biology  Researcher  2017 - 2022  105 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,219 
2.  0614  Slovenian Museum of Natural History  Ljubljana  5052670000  5,551 
In the proposed research programme ‘Communities, interactions and communications in ecosystems’, we will use integrative and interdisciplinary approach to study key mechanisms underlying the structure and function of ecosystems. Slovenia is one of Europe biodiversity hotspots and still has large areas of preserved pristine habitats, thus providing an ideal opportunity for studying dynamic of natural ecosystems. By integrating knowledge across different organisational levels, from molecules to ecosystems, we will address core scientific questions and issues that are central to a sustainable development of humanity. This gives the proposed programme strong international relevance, already established in strong international connections, as well as in a leading role in various fields of basic and applied science included in the programme. In WP1 'Biodiversity: processes and patterns', the goal is to reveal the key evolutionary and ecological mechanisms underlying biodiversity patterns. We will investigate processes promoting and maintaining biological diversity in target ecosystems, from identification of the relevant phylogenetic units and dynamics of sexual selection, to effects of biota coexistence expressed through communication networks, trophic interactions and interspecific competition. In WP2 'Ecosystem management', the aim is to provide sound scientific knowledge needed to enable sustainable use of renewable natural resources and development of effective conservation measures in order to prevent biodiversity decline and ecosystems degradation. The objective is crucial for preservation of key ecosystem services in changing environment. To fulfil this objective, we will study invasive potentials of alien species under different ecological scenarios, ecology of wild pollinators, sublethal effects of pesticides on predators, and survival of grassland birds in managed cultural landscape. We will develop new plant protection strategies, as well more effective approaches for management and monitoring of endangered saproxylic beetles. Special emphasis will be on studies determining the significance of environmental drivers on biota and key ecological processes in surface-groundwater ecotones of karstic and alluvial aquifers important for water purification and on development of improved mitigation and restoration measures for surface and groundwater ecosystem management. The research programme will be carried out by the Department of Organisms and Ecosystems Research at the National Institute of Biology and by the Slovenian Museum of Natural History. Both institutions possess key and complementary infrastructure needed to achieve the aims of the programme, from state-of-the-art laboratories, to the national historical biodiversity collections crucial to assess past and future environmental and biodiversity changes. Besides scientific excellence, the programme supports also the transfer of knowledge and promotion of science.
Significance for science
In the research programme ‘Communities, interactions and communications in ecosystems’, the complex and interdisciplinary approach, which is essential for integrative studies at the ecosystem level, will allow us to address the core scientific questions, as well as issues that are central to the sustainable development of human society. Research programme is divided into two interconnected workpackages that complement each other. In workpackage ‘Biodiversity: processes and patterns’ our research will focus on patterns of morphological, genetic, physiological, ecological and behavioural diversity, as well as processes inducing divergence between natural populations in maintaining biological diversity of target ecosystems. The main goal is to reveal the key evolutionary and ecological mechanisms underlying biodiversity patterns. The research activities in workpackege ‘Ecosystem management’ are aimed to define waypoints of sustainable development, ensuring biodiversity conservation at different levels and sustainable use of renewable natural resources. By integrating knowledge across different levels of biological organisation we are paving the way for innovative solutions. In particular, we wish to emphasize the following original contributions: Ground-breaking studies of vibrational communication carried out on diverse, but hitherto largely neglected model groups will provide much needed novel insights into mechanisms that are of crucial importance for understanding evolutionary processes. We expect that detailed studies of reciprocal exchange of signals between the sexes will reveal the significance of potentially major, but largely overlooked evolutionary mechanisms of sexual communication systems and ultimately, speciation. Investigations of vibrational communication networks will have a profound impact on general perception and understanding of this signalling modality. Since this is the most widespread and diverse form of acoustic communication the expected results will provide critical new insights that are central to our understanding of communication in general. Moreover, we pioneered the research on exploitation of vibrational signals in pest management and our results obtained so far have already opened a new field of research at the interface between basic and applied science. With the ongoing research within the programme we will further develop innovative, alternative approaches to manage insect pests that rely on vibrational communication. We expect to uncover new phenomena in species interactions as undergoing co-evolution between native and alien species and multi-trophic effects of predatory interactions based on key species in the ecosystems. Furthermore, the novel approach, which we will apply within the programme, is a development of species trait system using fundamental and physiological niches, which is crucially important to assess and predict species response to environmental changes. The great value of such approach is that it can be applied elsewhere and takes into account also environmental changes, such as global warming and habitat degradation processes. The new aspects of the species ecological niche were developed on basis of the previous research of alien species, the effects of global warming and the global increase in human population, which is reflected in the accelerated urbanization and increased exploitation of natural resources over the limits of their capacity. We expect that the research results will lead to a more reliable evaluation of the consequences of these changes and therefore contribute to the development of measures for the sustainable development of human society. Moreover, the results will clearly show the degree of species extinction in the future and consequences of these extinctions for the human population. Interdisciplinary research of the ecotones between surface and groundwater (i.e. hiporheic) will upgrade the knowledge as it will deepen the understanding of the lin
Significance for the country
The expected results of the programme 'Communities, interactions and communications in ecosystems' are firmly positioned within the three pillars of sustainable development (economic and social development, environmental protection and nature conservation) and will have a long-term influence on society. They will provide empirical data which are necessary to support new, and to enhance the existing ways of ecosystem management, and to develop effective nature conservation strategies. This is of key importance if we are to maintain healthy environment and human welfare in Slovenia as well as abroad. Preserved ecosystems provide us with many free-of-charge services. They are not important only for our immediate survival (with food production, water purification etc.), they also provide us with stable environment and represent a cornerstone of economy. Our research will provide comprehensive insights into ecosystem functioning. Only with such a holistic understanding of natural processes we can propose effective solutions for sustainable use of natural resources, which are crucial for a long-term survival and progress of our society. In agriculture, results of our research will enable more efficient use of natural resources with end result “higher yield at lower ecosystem degradation”. The topics we will focus on include (a) pollination, with research on honey bees and wild pollinators, (b) reduction of chemical pollution by improving methods of integrated pest management, (c) new schemes of grassland management. Considering that these are widespread problems in agriculture in many countries, our results will be appreciated world-wide. Slovenia is one of the most forested countries in Europe, and at the very top of the European list with regard to the number of species of conservation concern and Natura 2000 sites. Our results will help to increase efficiency in sustainable use of forests (e.g. amount and ways of logging, deadwood management). Poor water management is among the main drivers of decline in fresh water biodiversity world-wide. As a consequence, efficiency of ecosystem services is decreasing at an alarming rate. With research effort in the last decades, the importance of rivers, lakes and marshes as ecosystems was firmly established, but some other types of wetlands, although very important in water purification processes, were largely neglected. In particular, we refer to the ecotone between surface and groundwater, which will be in the spotlight of our research. Results will enable us to provide original contributions to management of surface and ground waters, thereby improving conservation of clean drinking water. For Slovenia, European Union and many other countries, halting the biodiversity loss is high on the political agenda. In spite of commitment for actions and numerous accepted measures, there has been no substantial improvement so far. The key problem is lack of holistic understanding of ecosystem functioning. Our complex and interdisciplinary approach to research minimizes these drawbacks and our aim is to provide relevant solutions to this global problem. Our programme is essential for accumulation of new basic and applied knowledge on animal groups important for conservation (beetles, crayfish, birds, mammals) and their interactions. Results will be, for that reason, invaluable source for nature conservation planning at different ministries as well as in public and non-governmental organisations world-wide. The programme also takes into account the central, national archive of Slovenian biodiversity (natural history collections, archive of animal sounds), stored in the Slovenian Natural History Museum. The collections are part of key scientific infrastructure important for our research and, on the other hand, they also have a status of Slovenian cultural heritage. We are closely involved in teaching, as well as disseminating knowledge to professional and general public. We are increasingly aware of
Most important scientific results Interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report
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