MPŠ MP&Scaron MP&Scaron MP&Scaron Avtorji

Jožef Stefan
Postgraduate School

Jamova 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana

Phone: +386 1 477 31 00
Fax: +386 1 477 31 10


Course Description

Monitoring of Changes in Biodiversity and Ecophysiology of Subterranean Organisms


Ecotechnologies, third-level study programme


prof. dr. Anton Brancelj


Development of critical thinking and analytical approach to solve complex problems related to groundwater, holistic approach in analyses of species richness and importance of groundwater biodiversity in conditioning of high quality of drinking groundwater, specific adaptations of organisms there, searching the literature and information in databases.
Planning of field work and sampling; selection and use of the most appropriate methods for collecting biological samplings for laboratory analyses; safety measures during fieldwork; laboratory measurements on living organisms.


• The most common types of groundwater and their basic abiotic characteristics (light, temperature, chemical composition of water, hydrological characteristics).
• The main differences between types of groundwater as a basis for differences in biodiversity.
• Role and specificity of transitional zones between epigean and subterranean habitats.
• Groundwater dependant epigean habitats.
• Biodiversity in groundwater: representatives, knowledge, distribution.
• Adaptations of organisms for life in groundwater (morphology, behaviour, physiology).
• Respiration and enzymatic activity (ETS) as key-factors for existence in groundwater.
• Principles of measuring respiration and ETS in aquatic organisms.
• Role of epigean and stygobitic organisms in determination of groundwater quality.
• Case studies on research of ecology and biodiversity in different types of groundwater in Slovenia.
• Methods of biological sampling and what we want to achieve.

Course literature:

Wetzel, R.G., 2001. Limnology. Lake and River Ecosystems. 3rd edition. Academic Press, San Diego, 1006 pp.
Culver, D.C. & White, W.B., (eds.), 2005. Encyclopedia of caves. Elsevier, Burlington, 654 pp.
Gunn, J., (ed.) 2004. Encyclopedia of caves and karst science. Fitzroy Dearborn, 902 pp.
Griebler, C., Danielopool, D.L., Gibert, J., Nachthnebel, H.P., Noteboom, J., 2001. Groundwater ecology – A tool for management of water resources. Austrian Academy of Science, Vienna, 413 pp.
del Giorgio P. & Williams P. J. le B. (eds). 2005. Respiration in Aquatic Ecosystems. Oxford University Press (izbrana poglavja/selected chapters), pp .
Downing J.A. & Rigler F.H. 1984. A manual on methods for the assessment of secondary productivity in fresh water. Blackwell Scientific Publications , pp.

Significant publications and references:

BRANCELJ, Anton. Fauna of an unsaturated karstic zone in Central Slovenia: two new species of Harpacticoida (Crustacea: Copepoda), Elaphoidella millennii n. sp. and E. tarmani n. sp., their ecology and morphological adaptations. Hydrobiologia (Den Haag), 2009, vol. 621, no. 1, str. 85-104., doi: 10.1007/s10750-008-9634-3. [COBISS.SI-ID 1933391], [JCR]
SIMČIČ, Tatjana, PAJK, Franja, BRANCELJ, Anton. Electron transport system activity and oxygen consumption of two amphibious isopods, epigean Ligia italica Fabricius and hypogean Titanethes albus (Koch), in air and water. Mar. freshw. behav. physiol. (Print), 2010, vol. 43, no. 2, str. 149-156., doi: 10.1080/10236244.2010.483052. [COBISS.SI-ID 2212431], [JCR]
MEZEK, Tadej, SIMČIČ, Tatjana, ARTS, Michael Theodore, BRANCELJ, Anton. Effect of fasting on hypogean (Niphargus stygius) and epigean (Gammarus fossarum) amphipods : a laboratory study. Aquat. ecol., 2010, vol. 44, no. 2, str. 397-408., doi: 10.1007/s10452-009-9299-7. [COBISS.SI-ID 2139471], [JCR]


Seminar (50%)
Writing exam (50%)

Students obligations:

Writing exam