Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Communities, relations and communications in the ecosystems

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   
1.04.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Chemistry   
1.08.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Control and care of the environment   
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   
ecosystems,land, water, air; animals, plants, influences, reactions, relations, communications; ecology, physiology, taxonomy, ethology, statistics, modelling; pollutants, indicators; biodiversity, information science
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (24)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  06989  PhD Andrej Blejec  Mathematics  Researcher  2004 - 2008  287 
2.  05221  PhD Anton Brancelj  Biology  Head  2004 - 2008  600 
3.  00691  PhD Andrej Čokl  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  342 
4.  26009  PhD Damijan Denac  Biology  Junior researcher  2007 - 2008  325 
5.  15122  PhD Mateja Germ  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  594 
6.  18341  Andreja Jerebic    Technical associate  2004 - 2008  24 
7.  27567  PhD Urška Koce  Biology  Junior researcher  2006 - 2008  114 
8.  26418  PhD Jasna Kralj  Neurobiology  Researcher  2007 - 2008  57 
9.  24504  PhD Simon Lukančič  Biology  Junior researcher  2006 - 2008  12 
10.  27505  PhD Tadej Mezek  Biology  Junior researcher  2006 - 2008  25 
11.  22615  PhD Nataša Mori  Biology  Junior researcher  2004 - 2008  162 
12.  18546  PhD Gregor Muri  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2004 - 2006  99 
13.  21501  PhD Petra Pavlovčič  Oncology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  19 
14.  23608  PhD Janez Prešern  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  213 
15.  15486  PhD Špela Schrader  Biology  Researcher  2005 - 2008  26 
16.  15129  PhD Tatjana Simčič  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  167 
17.  19430  PhD Nataša Stritih Peljhan  Neurobiology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  102 
18.  10903  Milijan Šiško  Biology  Technical associate  2004 - 2008  239 
19.  10796  PhD Davorin Tome  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  691 
20.  10061  PhD Tomi Trilar  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  998 
21.  07390  PhD Olga Urbanc-Berčič  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2006  277 
22.  05231  PhD Meta Virant Doberlet  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  279 
23.  21502  PhD Al Vrezec  Biology  Researcher  2004 - 2008  1,038 
24.  21503  PhD Maja Zorović  Neurobiology  Junior researcher  2004 - 2005  71 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,256 
2.  0614  Slovenian Museum of Natural History  Ljubljana  5052670000  5,811 
The program is continuation of activities which were performed in the past at the National Institute of Biology within two separate programs: "Neuroethology and ecophysiology of insects" (PO-0105-503) at the Department of Entomology and "Structure and function of ecosystems" (PO-0105-504) at the Department for Freshwater and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research. Deepening of co-operation between the two groups was the main reason to combine both programs. Result will be reflected in more complex approach in investigation of relations between environment and organisms which as the basic principle of structure and function of ecosystems. Topics, common for both groups are studies on physical, trophic and information interactions in some selected environments, research activities related to behavioural and sensory ecology as well as research on ecophysiology. Parallely we will perform research activities specific for each group. The main topics of the program are: 1/ Mechanisms of communications Communication is the process of information transfer among organisms using signals transmitted through different media. The program is focused on the research of: (a) biophysical properties of media, (b) emission of signals, (c) diversity of signals, (d) behavioural reactions, (e) multimodal connections, (f) applications in biological pest control. The research activities will be focused on air and solid with potential application to investigations of water as signal transmitting medium. 2/ Neurobiological research activities (a) Part of the nevrobiologial research activities will be focused on investigations of the sensory organs as mediator between the organism and environment, (b) Neurobiological research activities will represent also continuation of investitgations of detection and processing of information, transmitted along nerve cells to higher levels of the central netvous system. 3/ Environment - organism relations In this part of the program attanetion will be paid to ecophysiological research of activities in which fitness of selected organisms (crustaceans, insects, plants) will be measured in connection with ecological parameters like soil moisture, temperature, nutrients or in connection with the effects of alien chemical compounds (pesticides, heavy metals, eutrophication) on organisms resulting in intensity of activity of enzymes (ETS) and respiration. 4/ Interspecific relations Interspecific relations will be studied between pests and hosts, predator and prey, processes between different trophic levels and on structure of food webs in specific environment. 5/ Biodiversity Biodiversity is not only in focus of interest of taxonomists, population biologists and ecologists but also of specialist for pest control. Research activities will be oriented into two directions: a) Research of behavioural specificity and genetic profiles of populations as starting point for pest control (Cicada and plant bug), b) intensification of research on Copepoda in certain aquatic habitats (especially in subterranean environment) and regular monitoring of zooplankton in some extreme habitats (high-mountain lakes) 6/ Complex research in ecosystems - community structure as the measure of intensity of human impact on environment On a level of integral research of some ecosystems we will combine and upgrade knowledge from different fields of investigations. We will focus on different levels of intensity of land use (including farming and river regulations) as well as on the regions affected by dispersed sources of pollution. The proposed program has three distinct goals. We plan to: (1) upgrade high internationally comparable and relevant scientific level of research performed in the past; (2) disseminate our knowledge in Slovenia as well as abroad by means of education, publications and co-operation and (3) in the context of sustainable development contribute and transfer new knowledge
Significance for science
Team of 21 scientists of the National Institute of Biology and Natural History Museum of Slovenia participated on basic, applied and developmental research as well as in education. Cooperation of scientists from different fields of biology gave their work the added value by the possibility of the holistic approach to research problems. Of especially added value to the knowledge are 105 published scientific articles, 21 of them printed in the top ranked journals (1st quartil). Members of the group wrote textbooks, tuturing young researchers, teaching and wrote articles in daily newspapers and popular journals. In the frame of investigations of mechanisms of communication a significant step forward was achieved in understanding of the informational value of insect signals and their transmission through different media. At the basis of these data the influence of insecticides on sensory and motor patterns of non-target organisms was evaluated giving the scientific basis for application in biological control. Important are also new data on the variabilty of sound signals of mountain cicadas as the isolation mechanism between morphologicall non-recognizable species of the same complex. In the natural environemnt we research vocal communication among owls of the same brand as well as between different species as potential element to reduce physical conflicts. In the frame of investigations of the neurobiological basis of behaviour the group described morphology and function of interneurons constituting the network designed for the analysis of vibratory signals. Within a topic “relations between organisms and environment” fitness of the organisms on different environmental conditions was tested by their reactions. By means of differences in metabolic activities and reactions of organisms to environmental conditions on physiological and biochemical level researchers could make conclusions on competitive and tolerance abilities of selected species. To the field of investigations of interspecies relations members of the group introduced know-how on molecular methods for identification of predator’s prey as the basis for studies of trophic and feeding networks. It has been found in bees that microsporidia Nosema modifies behaviour by decreasing the ability of learning and orientation. In the vertebrates interspecific competition of forest-dwelling owls as well as intraspecific competition in white stork was studied. Based on modelling an energy flow between different trophic levels in lakes with different amount of biomass was studied. Within studies of biodiversity members of the program team show by the use of molecular and genetic methods directions and dynamics of worldwide spreading of the model species and species diversification of the mountain cycada into at least 10 new species. The investigations of population genetics, dynamics, diversity and divergence are planned to be the leading research directions in the program group in the next period. Within a study of groundwater biodiversity interest was focussed on unsaturated zone in karstic and hyporheic zone in porous aquifers. In both environments we found high values of biodiversity along with several new species from a group of Copepoda. In addition we worked on similar environment also in Russia, Algeria and Thailand, where high biodiversity of Copepoda was confirmed, too. Within the integral research in the ecosystems one of the interests was focussed on a conflict between management of and biodiversity on meadows with a whinchat as a model organism. Based on the results we construct a model to predict number of “survived nests” as a function of a date when hay-collection starts. Changes in functioning of lake ecosystems as a consequence of human activities were revealed by enzymatic activity of sediment. It appeared that more productive lakes with higher temperature and higher autochthonous biomass have higher microbial respiration and consequently mineralization.
Significance for the country
The program has been primarily focused on integral research of environment and processes within it at different levels. Due to cooperation of scientists of different specialist knowledge one was able to solve problems in a holistic way and consequently important achievements have been gained among which we believe the most important to be those concerned with transfer of knowledge at the international level, its transfer to younger generations and in technological development of Slovenia. The program team was involved with its research into international projects and has in this way contributed significantly to the exchange of knowledge, information and technology. In the frame of the international project INTERREG IIIb ALPLAKES the group was leading and coordinating the work about communication between scientists and interested public by preventing lake and surrounding ecosystems. The manual issued by the tean was the important result of cooperation within the ALPLAKES project being focused on sustainable development and use of the lake and its surrounding areas. The coworkers of the program coordinated also the dependence of biodiversity according to the physical and chemical conditions in karstic and porous aquifers (WP5 of EU projektu PASCALIS). The coworkers of the team transferred their knowledge to younger generations by intensive education at Slovene and foreign Universities at graduate and post-graduate level. For the educational use by teaching ecology member of the group published the textbook »Ecology: organisms in spaca and time« which is the one in Slovenia expaining all classic and modern concepts of ecology. Members of the program team have been tutoring between 2004 and 2008 PhD studies of 17 post-graduate students; until now 9 of them succesfulyl finished their studies and all of them have been imemdiately imployed. Besides members of the group have been giving lectures at the Universities of Ljubljana, Maribor and Nova Gorica. They teach in the frame of 16 subjects and are actively involved in the Bologna process. Member of the group was invited professor at the University Burnaby (Vancouver) in Canada. The program group significantly contributed to transfer of technologies, know-how, methods and practices into praxis. Laser technology has been introduced into detection of vibrations in biological materials and was used for ablation of identified cells in living organisms. Laser technology proved to be most efficient for testing of resonant properties of wood used for production of violins, guitars and other wooden instruments. By purchase of the equipment for excitation and laser measurements of vibrations the group is together with coworkers from the faculty of mathematics and physics of the University of Ljubljana skilled to test resonant properties of high quality wood being previously modified at the Department of wood engineering of the Biotechnical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. Laser technology was also applied in the field of conservation of art objects to detect by laser vibrometers signals produced by the activity of wood-boring insects. This method was tested in depots of the National Gallery of Slovenia, Ethnological and Technological museums of Slovenia. By the aid of the laser incorporated into the microscope the group has the possibility to destroy a single identified cell in the living organism. At the example of the Drosophila sp. Embryo members of the group followed the ontogenetic development of posture after ablation of precursors of relevant sensory nerve cells. The method is most convenient for investigations of neurobiological functional genomics. Within biology the team is the only one that develops and uses laser technology in the research of biological systems.
Most important scientific results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report, complete report on dLib.si
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