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   

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
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 (33)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  30854  PhD Danilo Bevk  Biology  Researcher  2012 - 2013  509 
2.  06989  PhD Andrej Blejec  Mathematics  Researcher  2009 - 2013  288 
3.  32095  PhD Dejan Bordjan  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2013  365 
4.  05221  PhD Anton Brancelj  Biology  Head  2009 - 2013  600 
5.  00691  PhD Andrej Čokl  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  342 
6.  34959  PhD Barbara Debeljak  Biology  Junior researcher  2012 - 2013  54 
7.  29092  PhD Maarten De Groot  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Junior researcher  2009  713 
8.  26009  PhD Damijan Denac  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  326 
9.  32093  PhD Maja Derlink  Medical sciences  Junior researcher  2009 - 2013  34 
10.  32097  PhD Martina Jaklič  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2013  94 
11.  18341  Andreja Jerebic    Technical associate  2009 - 2013  24 
12.  33222  PhD Andreja Kavčič  Forestry, wood and paper technology  Junior researcher  2010 - 2013  1,045 
13.  27567  PhD Urška Koce  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2011  115 
14.  26418  PhD Jasna Kralj  Neurobiology  Researcher  2009 - 2011  57 
15.  34501  PhD Anka Kuhelj  Biology  Junior researcher  2011 - 2013  43 
16.  34500  PhD Allen Wei Liu  Biology  Junior researcher  2011 - 2013  18 
17.  27505  PhD Tadej Mezek  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2011  25 
18.  22615  PhD Nataša Mori  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  163 
19.  36322  PhD Maja Opalički Slabe  Biology  Junior researcher  2013  17 
20.  28332  PhD Franja Pajk  Biology  Researcher  2010 - 2012  24 
21.  21501  PhD Petra Pavlovčič  Oncology  Researcher  2009 - 2010  19 
22.  23608  PhD Janez Prešern  Biology  Researcher  2009  215 
23.  15129  PhD Tatjana Simčič  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  167 
24.  02574  PhD Ignac Sivec  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  310 
25.  19430  PhD Nataša Stritih Peljhan  Neurobiology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  102 
26.  10796  PhD Davorin Tome  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  694 
27.  10061  PhD Tomi Trilar  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  1,004 
28.  05231  PhD Meta Virant Doberlet  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  281 
29.  21502  PhD Al Vrezec  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  1,042 
30.  25522  PhD Vera Zgonik  Biology  Junior researcher  2009 - 2013  25 
31.  21503  PhD Maja Zorović  Neurobiology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  71 
32.  30639  PhD Uroš Žibrat  Biology  Junior researcher  2010 - 2012  164 
33.  24937  PhD Alenka Žunič Kosi  Biology  Researcher  2009 - 2013  116 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,392 
2.  0614  Slovenian Museum of Natural History  Ljubljana  5052670000  5,915 
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
In the frame of the interconnected research work packages (WP) 1 (Mechanisms of communication), 2 (Neurobiology) and 4 (Interspecific relations) we integrated scientific excellence and experience in the fields of behaviour, ecology, biophysics of insectplant interactions, neurophysiology and studies of food webs. We have published a series of scientific papers that fundamentaly changed perception and understanding of vibrational communication in general. Discoveries on the role of plant’s resonant properties in the process of signal transmission, on airborne transmission of vibratory signals from one to the other plant, on the role of single parameters in mate recognition and location and on exploitation of insect intraspecific vibratory signals by predators and parasitoids will guide the direction of the research in the field in the upcoming years. The gradual shift in perception of vibrational communication as an exclusively private mode of communication limited to short distances in a an emitter-receiver dyad to a realisation that in nature all communication takes place in a network environment, occurred in the last five years and the members of the programme group researchers of the Department of Entomology have been involved in practically all publications on this topic. I addition these investigations enable new approaches in pest management strategies and members of the group area already applying these alternative methods in the field together with Italian and Brazilian collaborators. In the frame of Environment – organism research (WP 3) the ecophysiological adaptations of organisms were studied. We were among the first researchers who carried out the measurements to get the temperature tolerance curves for both invasive and native species of crayfish. At the same time we also developed a non-invasive method to carry out such measurements on crayfish that is important in studies of protected or endangered species. The methods for determination of adaptation of the organisms to the environmental factors had been successfully used in other systems: bacteria in the soil, beetles in contaminated areas, planktonic organisms in shallow lakes, fish in tropical and temperate climates. The method has been successfully introduced in two other laboratories abroad. In the context of biodiversity research (WP 5), particularly important is the research of the groundwater fauna from the percolation water in the karst caves. In the context of these studies, in the tropical caves of Thailand and Vietnam, several new species of crustaceans (Copepoda ; Crustacea) were collected. Those findings have shifted the current understanding of the distribution and evolution of subterranean organisms in the tropics. Concurrently in Slovenia, several new species for science were collected by systematic exploration of groundwater from karst caves, alpine springs or deep alluvial aquifers which have been often used as drinking water source. Within the ecosystems research (WP 6) the long-term measurements of flow rates and temperatures and collection of groundwater aquatic organisms were carried out in shallow karst cave. The findings contribute to the better understanding of the water flow patterns in the epikarst zone (the uppermost karst layer) and the processes that determine water quality. The conditions in the epikarst zone are the major determinant for the quality of drinking water that is pumped from the karst aquifer. At the same time, we explained in more detail the conditions and mechanisms that allow long-term existence of specific epikarstic aquatic fauna in this habitat. Measurements and observations have shown that the epikarst zone is very suitable environment for studying the effects of climate change. Especially, the specialized fauna that lives there can be very useful tool for such research.
Significance for the country
The members of the program group have demonstrated the relevance of their research for Slovenia with the following activities: a) Members of the programme group were the first to focus the public attention via interviews and popular papers to alternative pollinators of agricultural crops and the need to improve their condition, since they are crucial for pollination also due to the severe honey bee colony loss in recent years. b) Invasive species - program group members were actively involved in invasive species monitoring and emphasising the occurrence of non-native species, especially animal species in Slovenia. The topic was presented in several interviews published in the newspapers, or broadcasted on radio and television. The emphasis was placed on the occurrence of harmful beaked insects (bugs) for the farming in Slovenia and the prospects for their restriction. A strong cooperation with the scientists from abroad, mainly Brazil, was established. In the field of aquatic organisms the emergence of non-native crayfish species, such as red claw crayfish - Cherax quadricarinatus (VON MARTENS, 1868) and its negative impact on native species and the quality of aquatic ecosystems was studied. During those investigations, a reoccurrence of parasite Aphanamyces astaci in crayfish populations was identified. This parasite represents a threat for another plague epidemic event for Slovenian crayfish populations. In 2012, within the framework of the CRP project "Neobiota Slovenia", the first list of non-native species of beetles, crayfish and birds in Slovenia was prepared. c) Cooperation with the Municipality company (VO-KA), which supplies drinking water for the city of Ljubljana was established. The focus of cooperation was on the presence of specialized groundwater organisms in the pumping wells. The analyses of the fauna and the sediment in the wells is a tool for the assessment of water quality, detection of the possible sources of pollution, and in particular, the identification of the exchange intensity of the water between river channels and pumping wells. d) Mentoring doctoral, master's, graduate students - members of the program group were actively involved in the training of graduate, master's and doctoral students, which carried out practical work at the National Institute of Biology. The students were enrolled at the University in Ljubljana or the University of Nova Gorica. Altogether, 12 graduates, one master and 8 young researchers who completed their doctoral studies were supervised by the program group members. They were also co-mentors to foreign students from Thailand and United Kingdom, which enables the possibility for the future international scientific cooperation. e) The bilateral scientific cooperation with the countries from the former Yugoslavia (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro), European countries (Finland, United Kingdom, Switzerland), as well as countries outside Europe (Brazil, China, Russia, Korea, Japan) were carried out or are still ongoing. Those cooperations initiated long-term scientific cooperation with the above mentioned countries that are still going on and result in the publication of peer reviewed publications or common research projects. f) Four members of the program group were, involved in the lecturing within undergraduate or postgraduate program at the University of Ljubljana, University of Nova Gorica, University of Primorska and the International Graduate School Jozef Stefan. Their position as lecturers resulted also in supervision (mentoring) of several undergraduate or postgraduate students during their thesis preparation. g) In the period 2009-2013 the researchers published more than 100 articles in daily and monthly published journals (Delo, Slovenske Novice, Polet, Gea, Planinski vestnik, National geographic, ….), in which the ecological phenomena important for undisturbed functioning of ecosystems were shown and explained to laic public.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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