Content (Syllabus outline)

INTRODUCTION – Characterization of speleobiology, its significance in Slovenia, brief history of the speleobiological research.

KARST AND SUBTERRANEAN HABITATS – Karst, karstic and non-karstic subterranean environments, with an emphasis on the interstitial groundwater; basic aspects of geology, hydro-geology and hydrography.

SUBTERRANEAN HABITATS – General characteristics and specific features of the various types of aquatic and terrestrial habitats: overview of abiotic factors and food sources.

DIVERSITY OF SUBTERRANEAN FAUNA – Comparison with surface fauna: absence versus high species diversity of various taxonomic groups; endemism, importance for species richness on a regional scale. Global and regional patterns of species richness, patterns of beta diversity and environmental factors that shaped these patterns. Mechanisms driving patterns of species richness, including hypotheses of origin of subterranean fauna. Relict fauna. Dinarc kars as a model for study of subterranean biodiversity.

EVOLUTION – Selection and adaptation: morphological, physiological, behavioral, life history traits. Caves as natural laboratories for study of evolution.

ECOLOGY – Sources of energy, inter- and intraspecific interactions, subterranean communities. Caves as natural laboratories for study of ecology.

CONSERVATION – The role of endemic and relict species, factors that endanger subterranean fauna, tourism, protection of water resources.


Prerequisites for inclusion in the work:
· enrolment in the appropriate academic year

Prerequisites for performing study obligations:
· seminar presentation
· completed field work