Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Investigations in zoology and speleobiology.

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology   
1.05.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biochemistry and molecular biology   
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   

Code Science Field
B5   Biomedical sciences  B5  

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
zoology, taxonomy, molecular phylogenetics, phylogeography, biogeography,biodiversity, biospeleology, subterranean habitats; functional morphology, histology, ultrastructure, primary cell cultures, ecotoxicology, toxicity, microbial ecology, morphometry, ethology, neurobiology, olfaction, taste, chemical senses, fishes, nature conservation, Proteus, bear, honeybee, isopods.
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (41)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  11957  PhD Lilijana Bizjak Mali  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  217 
2.  27540  PhD Maša Bohinc  Medical sciences  Researcher  2009 - 2011  17 
3.  11169  PhD Janko Božič  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  320 
4.  21844  Gregor Bračko    Technical associate  2009 - 2014  40 
5.  04336  PhD Boris Bulog  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  211 
6.  35367  PhD Teo Delić  Biology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  130 
7.  11155  PhD Damjana Drobne  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  863 
8.  18913  PhD Cene Fišer  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  274 
9.  35368  PhD Žiga Fišer  Biology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  73 
10.  17820  Nika Fon Leben    Technical associate  2009 - 2011  25 
11.  28499  PhD Jure Jugovic  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2011  131 
12.  17424  Franc Kljun    Technical associate  2009 - 2014  55 
13.  32058  PhD Marjeta Konec  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2014  72 
14.  35369  PhD Veno Kononenko  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2014  68 
15.  06960  PhD Ivan Kos  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  562 
16.  36373  PhD Monika Kos  Biology  Junior researcher  2013 - 2014  67 
17.  18749  PhD Rok Kostanjšek  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  470 
18.  28193  PhD Marjetka Kralj Kunčič  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher in economics  2009 - 2011  45 
19.  24292  PhD Vladka Lešer  Public health (occupational safety)  Researcher  2009 - 2011  157 
20.  30770  PhD Ajda Moškrič  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2014  56 
21.  33923  PhD Polona Mrak  Natural sciences and mathematics  Junior researcher  2011 - 2014  97 
22.  24029  Jožica Murko Bulić    Technical associate  2009 - 2014 
23.  33175  PhD Sara Novak  Biology  Junior researcher  2010 - 2013  105 
24.  26053  PhD Živa Pipan Tkalec  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2013  42 
25.  18628  PhD Hubert Potočnik  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  286 
26.  13605  PhD Simona Prevorčnik  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  103 
27.  37504  PhD Neža Repar  Biology  Junior researcher  2014  31 
28.  00206  PhD Boris Sket  Biology  Head  2009 - 2014  586 
29.  07737  PhD Jasna Štrus  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  443 
30.  14835  PhD Peter Trontelj  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  424 
31.  29600  PhD Martin Turjak  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  18 
32.  09864  PhD Magda Tušek Žnidarič  Biology  Researcher  2009  414 
33.  27543  PhD Janez Valant  Pharmacy  Junior researcher  2009 - 2010  56 
34.  01255  PhD Tine-Borut Valentinčič  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2011  220 
35.  16261  PhD Rudi Verovnik  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  393 
36.  32060  PhD Miloš Vittori  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2012  137 
37.  23478  PhD Maja Zagmajster  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  343 
38.  25832  PhD Valerija Zakšek  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  136 
39.  27833  Katja Zdešar Kotnik    Technical associate  2009 - 2014  48 
40.  16065  PhD Primož Zidar  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  172 
41.  16381  PhD Nada Žnidaršič  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2014  239 
Organisations (1)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,295 
1.6.1 Theoretical backgrounds and purposes: Zoology program at the Department of Biology include biodiversity studies, ecology of Dinaric Alps, morphology and physiology of cave salamander, biology of Oniscid crustaceans and neuroethology of fish chemoreception. Primary investigators are listed for each chapter: SKET, B.: Biodiversity and biogeographical patterns in karst areas: Biodiversity and biogeographical variability are very high in the Dinaric Karst. Morphological and molecular studies indicate multiple immigrations of species into the subterranean world, which is characterized by large genetic diversity. The mosaic phylogeny in some groups of animals produced their unusual morphologies. We are testing a hypothesis of active immigration into the subterranean world. Program subtitles are: 1. Catalogs of subterranean fauna of Slovenia and West Balkans, comparisons with the tropical subterranean faunas. 2. Molecular phylogentics and phylogeographic analysis of Erpobdelidae (Hirudinea) and Monolistrini (Asellidae; Crustacea. 3. Molecular phylogeny of genus Niphargus (Crustacea: Amphipoda) KOS, I.: Ecology of the Dinaric Alps: Dinaric Karst biocenoses are composed of large number of species including numerous endemic species, the alpha diversity of studied animal groups is several times larger than elsewhere. Management of the forest ecosystems influences species survival and stability of biocenoses. Program subheadings are: 1. Relationships between forest structure and centipede metapopulations. 2. Competition and cross-breeding between wild and domestic cats (Felis catus), treats to the wild cat genepool. 4. Chilopods (Chilopoda, Myriapoda) of the Dinaric karst. BULOG, B.: Studies of the cave salamander (Proteus anguinus). The cave salamander and the related surface salamander, mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus) are morphologically and physiologically different. We will study: 1. Functional morphology and physiology of senses in the cave salamander. 2. Primary hepatic cell cultures. 3. Accumulation of heavy metals and organic pollutants in the cave salamander. 4. Metalothionein synthesis at high environmental metal ion concentrations in the mudpuppy. 5. Distribution of fatty tissues and biochemical analysis of lipids in the cave salamander and mudpuppy. 6. Age assessments of amphibians using amino acid racemization method and skeletochronology. ŠTRUS, J.: Biology of Oniscidea Crustacea and their use for environment assessment: Surface and subterranean oniscids are morphologically and functionally adapted to their environment. At organismic, tissue, cellular and molecular levels we will investigate the structure of Oniscidea digestive organs and skin, the use of energy rich substances under conditions of stress and the effects of heavy metal accumulation. Program subheadings include: 1. Metabolism of essential and nonessential metals in crustacean epithelia. 2. Metalothioneins in metal dynamics and influence of pesticides and heavy metals on crustacean physiology. 2. Reactive oxygen species and assessment of the early stress. 3. Microorganisms in crustacean metabolism. 4. Functional morphology and physiology of surface and hypogeal crustaceans. 5. VALENTINČIČ, T.: Neuroethological studies of fish chemoreception: We correlate catfish olfactory discrimination abilities with olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) responses to amino acids. By stimulating olfactory receptor organ in highly purified water we discovered that most of the olfactory receptor neurons coding amino acids stimuli are inactive before stimulation. Program chapters include: 1. Electrophysiological responses of spontaneously inactive ORNs to amino acid stimuli. 2. Fluorescent labeling (DiI) of connections between the olfactory epithelium and the olfactory bulb and introduction of in situ hybridization methods in the study of catfish olfactory organ. 3. Olfactory discrimination of amino acids as related to their olfactory bulb chemotopy in zebrafish
Significance for science
We contributed to the understanding of adaptations to the subterranean environment, as well as to understanding of the subterranean biodiversity patterns and richness in W Balkans area. Subterranean ecosystem is characterized by low food availability which requires, while permanent darkness and buffered daily and seasonal fluctuations in abiotic parameters render possible, extreme economisation and some special morphological adaptations (troglomorphies). While seasonal climatic fluctuations interfere with long-term climate changes in the epigean systems, subterranean ecosystem offers the unique opportunity for studying the effect of long-term climate changes on the biodiversity patterns. The analyses of spatial data of groundwater crustaceans at continental scale suggest that in the past 10,000 years climate changes remarkably influenced the range sizes of groundwater crustaceans and, to a lesser extent, the species richness patterns. Subterranean environment is characterized by strong directional selection that drives convergent evolution of subterranean species. We studied water lice (Asellus aquaticus) and showed that morphological change can be mediated through one or a few genes. Surprisingly, we found that evolutionary changes within population for each trait (eyes size, depigmentation) can be achieved by two genetic pathways. Comparative studies of integument and chemical composition of cuticle during moltcycle and ontogenesis showed large variation in chemical composition of extracellular matrix in different ecomorphotypes of terrestrial isopod crustaceans. We showed that the cuticle of cave species is composed of a higher number of thin lamellae, which results in its elasticity and mechanical stiffness, while calcification is not so intensive as in related epigean species (Vittori and Strus 2104). Investigation of structure and function of calcium bodies which accumulate calcium salts and contain bacteria in cave species is important for understanding the cellular mechanisms of calcium homeostasis maintenance during molt cycle and development. Description of bacteria in the isopod tissues provide an oppurtunity for establishment of unique model system for observation of mutualistic, commensal and parasitic interactions between arthropod and bacteria, which will enable further research on arthropod responses to infections, new metabolic properties of arthropods and novel approaches on biocontrol of arthropod pests and disease vectors. Part of our research is focused on studying effects of nanomaterials, which are produced by nanotechnologies. Nanotoxicology is a relatively new research field, but it is getting increasing importance by increasing production and application of products of nanotechnologies. By knowing the interactions of nanomaterials with biota is of a high importance for successful and safe application of new materials. We have revealed that nanomaterials affect the cholinergic system, which is a central system, involved in signal transduction and intracellular communication including neuronal functioning. In bees, it is of high importance to understand and protect the cholinergic system and functions of neuronal system because their social behaviour is of high importance. Preliminary results are encouraging and therefore we will continue to study effects of nanomaterials on cholinergic system of bees
Significance for the country
Slovenia is the cradle of speleobiology (biospeleology) and one of the global hotspots for subterranean biodiversity. Our responsibility is to preserve and manage this natural heritage properly. The sustainable management of the subterranean fauna can only be based on our taxonomic and faunistic knowledge. In the last five years we improved this knowledge significantly. Our databases and genetic data collected in the past years are a basis for selecting the priority areas for conservation and scientifically grounded conservation strategies. Our research attracted several PhD and post-doctoral students, who conducted a part of their research in our laboratories. Education of foreign postgraduate students is an important outreach of Slovenian science and university. An important contribution is publication of results on in vitro fertilization program of subfertile couples in Slovenia, which was done in cooperation with researchers from Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana. In addition to the method MSOME for selection of sperm cells we developed the microscopical method for visualization and interpretation of sperm ultrastructure (FEKONJA et al. 2014). Potential neurotoxicity of nanomaterials is a priority in human and environmental health research. The data on side effects of engineered nanomaterials including neurotoxic potential could significantly contribute to production and application of new materials. Of significant importance are effects on no-target organisms, because such data are used in establishing safe and sustainable production and application of nanomaterials. In addition, the new knowledge in the field of nanobiology and nanotoxicology could significantly contribute to nature protection. Not only in Slovenia, but also in other countries, bees are among those species which need special attention because of their significant environmental relevance. They are known for their role in pollination and for producing honey and beeswax. In Slovenia, Apis mellifera carnica has an additional importance and role in cultural heritage. Because of this, research and new knowledge on ecology, biology and eco(nano)toxicology of bees is of high importance. The implementation of scientifically based conservation management of charismatic animal species in Slovenia provides an important starting point for the independent management of our social and natural environment within the European Community. The development of advanced and sophisticated monitoring methods of large carnivore populations has significant international impact, which reflects in international conservation projects at the population and/or trans-boundary level.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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