Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Integrative zoology and speleobiology

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.01  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology  Zoology and zoophysiology 

Code Science Field
B005  Biomedical sciences  Zoology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
biodiversity, biomimetic materials, conservation biology, cave animals, chitin, cuticle, Dinaric Kars, ecology, ecotoxicology, epithelia, evolution, large carnivores, mineralization, model organisms, mutualism, olm, pathogene, phylogeography, phylogeny, pollutants, reproductive biology, taxonomy
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Data for the last 5 years (citations for the last 10 years) on July 14, 2024; A3 for period 2018-2022
Data for ARIS tenders ( 04.04.2019 – Programme tender , archive )
Database Linked records Citations Pure citations Average pure citations
WoS  689  17,591  14,955  21.71 
Scopus  737  19,396  16,456  22.33 
Researchers (46)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  11957  PhD Lilijana Bizjak Mali  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  217 
2.  38158  PhD Urban Bogataj  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  43 
3.  50532  PhD Špela Borko  Biology  Technical associate  2020 - 2022  77 
4.  11169  PhD Janko Božič  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  322 
5.  21844  Gregor Bračko    Technical associate  2020 - 2024  40 
6.  04336  PhD Boris Bulog  Biology  Retired researcher  2020 - 2024  211 
7.  35367  PhD Teo Delić  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  132 
8.  51859  PhD Andraž Dolar  Biology  Technical associate  2020 - 2024  57 
9.  18913  PhD Cene Fišer  Biology  Head  2020 - 2024  275 
10.  35368  PhD Žiga Fišer  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  75 
11.  18324  PhD Gordana Glavan  Neurobiology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  146 
12.  53634  Špela Golob  Biology  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024 
13.  39092  PhD Tajda Gredar  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  28 
14.  53805  Nuša Hrga  Biology  Technical associate  2020 - 2021 
15.  24447  PhD Anita Jemec Kokalj  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  301 
16.  17424  Franc Kljun    Technical associate  2020 - 2024  58 
17.  32058  PhD Marjeta Konec  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  76 
18.  56890  Anja Kos  Biology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  18 
19.  06960  PhD Ivan Kos  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  562 
20.  18749  PhD Rok Kostanjšek  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  475 
21.  54728  Katja Kunčič  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  14 
22.  39089  PhD Žan Kuralt  Biology  Technical associate  2020 - 2024  70 
23.  55612  Luka Močivnik  Biology  Technical associate  2021 - 2024 
24.  33923  PhD Polona Mrak  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2020 - 2024  103 
25.  24029  Jožica Murko Bulić    Technical associate  2020 - 2022 
26.  33175  PhD Sara Novak  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  114 
27.  56889  Eva Pavlovič  Biology  Junior researcher  2022 - 2024  65 
28.  55385  Valentina Perc  Biology  Junior researcher  2021 - 2024  19 
29.  18628  PhD Hubert Potočnik  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  292 
30.  54729  Ester Premate  Biology  Junior researcher  2020 - 2024  65 
31.  13605  PhD Simona Prevorčnik  Biology  Researcher  2020  103 
32.  56879  PhD Hans Recknagel  Biology  Researcher  2023 - 2024  39 
33.  25992  PhD Tomaž Skrbinšek  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  233 
34.  55611  Nina Srečnik Lapanja    Technical associate  2021 - 2022 
35.  55679  Mateja Šoštarič    Technical associate  2021 - 2022 
36.  07737  PhD Jasna Štrus  Biology  Retired researcher  2020 - 2024  443 
37.  14835  PhD Peter Trontelj  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  427 
38.  16261  PhD Rudi Verovnik  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  394 
39.  53741  Astrid Vik Stronen  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  78 
40.  32060  PhD Miloš Vittori  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  143 
41.  23478  PhD Maja Zagmajster  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  344 
42.  25832  PhD Valerija Zakšek  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  138 
43.  27833  Katja Zdešar Kotnik    Technical associate  2020 - 2021  49 
44.  16065  PhD Primož Zidar  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  172 
45.  16381  PhD Nada Žnidaršič  Biology  Researcher  2020 - 2024  243 
46.  57754  Ana Žuran    Junior researcher  2023 - 2024 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,219 
The mission of the program “Integrative zoology and speleobiology” is to understand the organisms and processes that generate and maintain the biodiversity of the Dinaric Karst in order to provide scientific basis for long-term conservation and sustainable management of the natural heritage of this area. Almost half of Slovenia's territory lies on karst terrain that represents the northeastern most part of the Dinaric mountain zone extending along the Eastern Adriatic. This region is nested within the Mediterranean Basin biodiversity hotspot, harboring exceptional species richness. A wide variety of animals from invertebrates to vital European populations of charismatic and generally endangered carnivores, such as wolf and bear, inhabit the surface. Albeit often overlooked, the northern Dinaric Karst represents unique global hotspot of subterranean biodiversity. The labyrinths within the fissured limestone massifs provide the living space to many bizarre life forms, including globally famous olm (Proteus anguinus), cave clam (Congeria jalzici) and slenderneck beetle (Leptodirus hochenwarti). The surface and subterranean counterparts comprise functionally interdependent ecosystems. While the subterranean community depends on surface productivity, surface inhabitants depend critically on groundwater resources. The Dinaric karst is an important part of our natural and cultural heritage. Its uniqueness was first revealed by polyhistorian Valvasor in the 17th century. The cave animals of Carniola served as a case of evolution by natural selection to Darwin. The region is a cradle of beekeeping and speleobiology. Some of its parts are under the auspices of UNESCO, and majority of the region is included in the Natura 2000 network. Human activities interfere with the natural processes, hence the sustainable management of this fragile region requires careful long-term monitoring of wild populations and science-based decisions. The research is carried out in three sections. Within the section “From cell to organism” we study animal biology, from molecular to organismal level. We explore the links between the structure and function of animals, with an emphasis on their development, tissue regeneration, interactions and adaptations to the environment. Within the “From populations to communities” section, we study processes at a population or species level. The research aim is to disentangle the origin of biodiversity through evolutionary and ecological processes. The section “Animal in the Anthropocene” explores reciprocal relations between humans and local faunas. On one side, it examines the adjustment of anthropogenic activity to minimally interfere with the needs of wildlife, and conversely, how indicator organisms can communicate environmental risks to humans. In the program, we seek to capture the complexity of animal life by interconnection of different concepts, theories and methods into innovative research spanning across all three sections.
Significance for science
Importance for the development of science or profession Scientific excellence is one of the foundations of an innovative, knowledge-based society. Our research will increase the excellence of Slovenian science contributing to its international recognition and competitiveness at the European and global scale. The overarching aim of the programme is to foster a creative environment to strengthen scientific excellence and increase professional competences in line with basic principles laid down in the “Resolution on Research and Innovation Strategy of Slovenia 2011-2020”. Fundamental knowledge obtained within the P1-0184 programme will contribute to the economic growth of Slovenia as well as successful management of arising global social challenges. We consider that the programme has the following strategic assets to reach scientific excellence: new model organisms and systems, integrative, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research strategy, scientific and professional excellence of team members and intense international networking. Model species in our programme are globally new and innovative (cave animals, pollinators) and provide a great advantage in generating novel unconventional hypothesis as well as testing traditional ones. Integrative approach to science will strengthen scientific output and generate innovative hypothesis and concepts. Our research programme provides a platform for the integration of knowledge from different levels of biological organisation, integration of evolutionary processes into ecology and conservation biology, and linking cell-ultrastructure with functional ecology. Inter- and transdisciplinary inputs across scientific and non-scientific stakeholder communities will facilitate a systemic way of addressing future challenges for Dinaric Karst region. Novel methodologies are drivers of science and innovation. The integrative approach of this programme encourages the implementation of innovative methodologies. Importantly, the development of methods links basic and applied sciences and generates new scientific questions. Technical solutions developed within the programme will increase the recognition of Slovenian science and establish a link to industry. Another important contribution to science and profession development are online databases with high quality data which are becoming a standard tool to study taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology and environmental safety. During the past decades we have developed a comprehensive subterranean biodiversity database which has already become an indispensable tool for global biodiversity pattern analyses. We also aim to communicate relevant and high-quality environmental safety data to the general public and relevant stakeholders through existing web-platforms (DaNa, EUON, NanoFASE and NanoCommons). Overall, our mission is to continue our contribution to study biological patterns and processes from cellular to ecosystem level leading to applied science and novel technological solutions and management strategies. To enhance our global recognition we will strengthen our international networking through bilateral and multilateral collaboration in line with the principles laid in the “Strategy of internationalisation of Slovenian science and research (2018-2030)”. Our currently established collaborations are with partners across Europe, USA, Brazil and China. Further networking will be established through joint publications, invited lectures, and organisation of international meetings. We shall maintain an open, creative scientific and educational environment that will welcome national and international collaboration, acquire and disseminate knowledge as well as provide solutions to raising problems. To conclude, we are highly competent research team, pursuing innovative aims framed in this program, and leading to internationally recognisable outputs at the European and global scale.
Significance for the country
Potential impact on economic development Integration of basic and applied research within this programme enables outputs that may drive and impact economic development on a regional, national and global scales. The programme contributes to the economy in several aspects. Solving the conflicts among stakeholders and large carnivores has reduced threats to wildlife, while successful management of large carnivores has prevented costs occurring from wildlife predation on livestock and destruction of crops. Moreover, direct economic profits come from sustainable and profitable beekeeping with the introduction of new technical solutions and taking actions towards prevention of honeybee disease. Honeybee colonies are essential for agriculture and environment, ensuring plant reproduction by pollination, while beekeeping participates to the development of rural areas and bee products are considered an important share of European food industry. Activities linked with the protection of groundwater will crucially contribute to maintaining sufficient drinking water supplies for the next generations. Understanding complex biotic processes is important to develop sustainable strategies for water supply management. The programme also provides outputs related to technological development. The study of biomimetic materials (materials developed in nature, e.g. the cuticle) can guide research on advanced composite materials. Also, knowledge regarding the safety of advanced materials can inform “safe-by-design” production leading to their higher competiveness. The intensive networking of programme members in several international project consortia as well as centres of excellences (MIRC UL, NanoCenter, Namaste) will ensure technological output. Finally, the protection of the Dinaric region as laid down in this programme has positive implications for the development of tourism. This programme is an excellent example how research in the academic sector is an important component of the economic development. Potential impact on social and cultural development This research programme addresses key developmental goals; the preservation of natural environment and sustainable management of natural resources; laid down in new national development framework adopted by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (“Slovenian Development Strategy 2030”). A large share of programme activities are linked to preservation of nature including monitoring of environment, management of endangered species and wildlife populations and activities related to the protection of Natura 2000 areas. Knowledge transfer to conservation practise is ensured through active participation in international expert groups, such as UCN SSC Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group, Varroa control task force and Apitox task force, and Nanosafety cluster expert group. Programme members have established communication with stakeholders such as the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Nature Conservation, Slovenian Forest service, Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, National Chemicals bureau and the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association. Even more importantly, we are linked to amateur conservationist, speleologists, beekeepers and hunters who represent a direct communication channel to the general public. Research on unique Slovenian biodiversity is by no doubt an excellent chance of natural and cultural heritage promotion of Slovenia. The organisation of international meetings in Slovenia and the establishment of international collaborations will contribute to promotion of the country (“science tourism”). As a part of our mission at the University of Ljubljana we support competence development of students. Most of our team members are involved in numerous programmes at the BSc, MSc and Doctoral degree levels. Students are invited to actively participate in our research projects as part of their thesis. We are involved in Erasmus+ programme, which supports sharing knowledge and
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