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   

Code Science Field
B003  Biomedical sciences  Ecology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
1.04  Natural Sciences  Chemical sciences 
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (23)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  30854  PhD Danilo Bevk  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  508 
2.  06989  PhD Andrej Blejec  Mathematics  Researcher  2014 - 2016  288 
3.  05221  PhD Anton Brancelj  Biology  Head  2014 - 2016  600 
4.  00691  PhD Andrej Čokl  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  342 
5.  34959  PhD Barbara Debeljak  Biology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2016  54 
6.  32093  PhD Maja Derlink  Medical sciences  Researcher  2014  33 
7.  32097  PhD Martina Jaklič  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2015  94 
8.  18341  Andreja Jerebic    Technical associate  2014 - 2016  24 
9.  09211  PhD Boris Kryštufek  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  1,056 
10.  34501  PhD Anka Kuhelj  Biology  Junior researcher  2014  43 
11.  34500  PhD Allen Wei Liu  Biology  Junior researcher  2014  18 
12.  22615  PhD Nataša Mori  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  163 
13.  36322  PhD Maja Opalički Slabe  Biology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2016  17 
14.  31231  PhD Jernej Polajnar  Biology  Doctoral student  2015 - 2016  139 
15.  15129  PhD Tatjana Simčič  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  167 
16.  19430  PhD Nataša Stritih Peljhan  Neurobiology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  102 
17.  38172  PhD Rok Šturm  Biology  Junior researcher  2015 - 2016  50 
18.  10796  PhD Davorin Tome  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  693 
19.  10061  PhD Tomi Trilar  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  1,004 
20.  05231  PhD Meta Virant Doberlet  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  281 
21.  21502  PhD Al Vrezec  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  1,041 
22.  21503  PhD Maja Zorović  Neurobiology  Researcher  2014  71 
23.  24937  PhD Alenka Žunič Kosi  Biology  Researcher  2014 - 2016  116 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,301 
2.  0614  Slovenian Museum of Natural History  Ljubljana  5052670000  5,893 
The research programme “Communities, relations and communications in ecosystems“ is a continuation of the programme running from 2009 to 2013. It is organized into modules and within individual module/work package the members of the team study specific topics (communication mechanisms, neurobiology, environment-organism relationships, interspecific relationships, biodiversity and invasive species), which are also incorporated into complex studies of ecosystems – the ecosystem services. Some of the proposed basic research is based on our long-term studies, which were revealed in the previous programme period as the ones with the highest potential for opening new fields of research (particularly in the fields of insect communication, neurobiology and biodiversity). In addition, in the new programme a special emphasis will be placed on invasive alien species, which have direct negative economic consequences (insects) or they influence the functioning of the ecosystems via reduced ecosystem services (i.e. freshwater crustaceans). The proposed programme represents a complex approach to unravel mechanisms of ecosystem functions, which are crucial for solving environmental problems and include economic (i.e. pest control, bioindicators of pollution, drinking water supply, reducing the impact of alien species), as well as ecosystem protection (maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services, Natura 2000, loss of pollinators, climate change) components. The proposed research programme integrates broad spectra of research conducted in the field and in the laboratory, as well as experimental work designed to unravel fundamental mechanisms supported by mathematical and statistical models which significantly increase the accuracy of hypotheses’ predictions. In basic research where members of the programme team are at the forefront internationally, the main emphases will primarily be on (1) communication between organisms, the area in which we plan to provide new insights on mechanisms of ecosystem function, offer alternative approaches to control insect pests to reduce chemical pressure on the environment, gain new insights into evolutionary mechanisms and biology of social insects and (2) ecosystem alterations and changes in biodiversity, which are nowadays dictated by climate change, pollution and introduction of alien species. The basic knowledge obtained by our own long-term research also enables us to carry out complex applied projects connected to exploitation and conservation of ecosystems and ecosystem services. Members of the programme team are linked to many international research groups through many collaborative research projects, as well publicistic work. In addition, members of the programme research group also lead several university modules and hold lectures at graduate and postgraduate levels.
Significance for science
Within the programme “Communities, relations and communications in the ecosystems” we were, by using complex and interdisciplinary approach, focused on the most relevant scientific questions and this enabled us to set the key-points for the future research activities, as well. Within highly interconnected workpackages on mechanisms of communication, neurobiological investigations and inter- and intraspecific relations we included state-of-the-art knowledge and experiences in the fields of behavioural ecology, biophysics of signals transmission in the plants and chemical communication. This enabled us to develop more “environment friendly” pest control worldwide (Brazil, Italy) as well as in Slovenia. From this research area we published several papers which shed new light on understanding of vibratory and chemical communication. Within the studies of environment-organism interactions we investigated the eco-physiological adaptations of organisms (i.e. their reactions to the environmental conditions) on case studies of adaptation of invasive alien species to the local conditions. These studies provided an insight into complex effects of climate change, as well as on possible scenarios in the changes of the local biodiversity, where invasive alien species will prevail. Research on microbiological populations in the hyporheic zone of some rivers revealed, that this environment will be intensively effected by climate changes as well as by physical impacts resulting from human activities within the catchment areas. With the introduction of the new system for monitoring of microbiological activities within the riverine sediments under a laboratory conditions we opened a new approach for protecting the high quality of groundwater. Researchers within the programme group contributed significant knowledge to the understanding of biodiversity, both on the local as well as global scale, in the groups of mammals, insects and lower crustaceans (Ostracoda, Copepoda, Syncarida) and they described several new species, by using up-to-date molecular and audio techniques in addition to classical morphological descriptions. Apart description of the new species from Slovenia, they contributed to the knowledge of the new species also from Greece, Sahara and several countries from Asia. A revision of some groups, which were considered in the past as monotone, was also done. Integral research in the ecosystems revealed intimate and important relations between biotic and abiotic environment, both for caves and riverine ecosystems. At the same time strong relations between biodiversity and human activities, especially in the agriculture, were revealed, where two indicator groups, birds and bees/bumblebees, are emphasized. Results of our studies were published in high-ranking international journals and the scientific value is reflected through citations.
Significance for the country
The results of the research programme and the numerous activities of the members of the programme group had important direct and indirect impact for Slovenian society. We wish to emphasize the following topics: a) Care for wild pollinators – members of the programme group were at the forefront in informing the public, as well as policy on the importance wild pollinators in agriculture. Population of wild pollinators as well as bees drastically decreased in the last few years, including bumblebees, which are active also at low temperatures. b) Introduction of less intensive (i.e. traditional) mowing techniques on marshland meadows to stop the decrease of bird populations as well as deterioration of the habitat. It is important to combine the optimal mowing techniques and timing of bird hatching, in order to protect young birds in the agricultural landscape. Similarly, keeping dead wood supports the populations of saproxylic beetles which are crucial for normal functioning of the forests ecosystems. c) Monitoring of appearance and effects of invasive alien species, especially animals, is crucial for active reactions and distribution of information to the public. In parallel with scientific work, the researchers distributed information to the public through interviews, radio and TV. Special attention was put on appearance of some harmful insects (bugs) in Slovenia and methods for the reduction of their population. In aquatic organisms we followed invasive alien species (i.e. redclaw and zebra mussel), which have high negative potential impact on native species and ecosystems. d) Cooperation with public enterprise Vodovod-Kanalizacija (VO-KA), which is responsible for delivery of potable water to Ljubljana, is well established. We studied presence of highly specialised groundwater animals in the abstraction wells. Analyses of fauna and sediments provides the information on water quality and potential sources of pollution and particularly in intensity of communications between rivers and abstractions wells. e) Ecological studies on aquatic fauna, climate and hydrological conditions in the Velika Pasica Cave culminated in a scientific monograph. The book was distributed to the most prominent researchers abroad, who also contributed positive comments and reviews in international journals and increase interest for such type of research. f) Members of the programme team supervised numerous PhD, master and undergraduate students at the University of Ljubljana, University of Maribor and University of Nova Gorica. g) The members of the programme team were in the period 2013-2016 also involved in educational activities on graduate as well as postgraduate levels at the University of Ljubljana, University of Nova Gorica, University of Primorska and Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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