Graduate School

Ecology of animals in karst acquatic ecotonic habitats

This course is part of the programme:
Karstology (Third Level)

Objectives and competences

The primary goal of this course is to give students the theoretical and practical knowledge of the basic characteristics of aquatic habitats and ecotone habitats on karst, and connections of surface and subterranean waters from the ecological point of view. They are introduced with different ecological questions and examples, connected with the individuals, populations, communities and aquatic ecotone habitats. The special emphasis is on the knowledge and assessment methods for protection and vulnerability of karst aquatic ecotone habitats.



Content (Syllabus outline)

  • Introduction of the concept of karst aquatic ecotone habitats
  • Scientific principles of the structure and protection of karst aquatic ecotone habitats
  • Survey of ecological interactions between subterranean and surface waters
  • Methods for sampling communities in ecotone habitats
  • Organisms and their physical environment
  • Adaptations of fauna to the basic abiotic factors
  • Species interactions
  • Distribution patterns of aquatic invertebrats in different ecotone habitats
  • Threatened species, their assessment and management

Intended learning outcomes

Students get knowledge about the basic concepts connected with the animal ecology in different aquatic ecotone habitats in karst. Student learns about the main communities in aquatic ecotone habitats, their interactions and adaptations of organisms. They become skilled on the sampling methodology and for the basic ecological research work in aquatic ecotone habitats.


  • Botosaneanu L. 1998: Studies in Crenobiology. The biology of springs and spring brooks. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden.
  • Camacho A. I. 1992: The Natural History of Biospeleology. Monografias del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales, Madrid.
  • Culver D. C., Pipan T. 2009: The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Gibert J., Danielopol D. L., Stanford J. A. 1994: Groundwater Ecology. Academic Press, San Diego.
  • Gibert J., Mathieu J., Fournier F. 1997: Groundwater/Surface Water Ecotones: Biological and Hydrological Interactions and Management Options. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Gottstein Matočec S., Ozimec R., Jalžić B., Kerovec M., Bakran-Petricioli T. 2002: Raznolikost i ugroženost podzemne faune Hrvatske. Ministartsvo zaštite okoliša i prostornog uređenja, Zagreb.
  • Gottstein Matočec S., Bakran-Petricioli T., Bedek J., Bukovec D., Buzjak S., Franičević M., Jalžić B., Kerovec M., Kletečki E., Kralj J., Kružić M., Kuhta M., Matočec N., Ozimec R., Rađa T., Štamol V., Ternjej I., Tvrtkovič N. 2002: An overview of the cave and interstitial biota of Croatia. Nature Croatica 11 (Suppl. 1):1-112.
  • Stoch F. 2002: Caves and karstic phenomena. Life in the subterranean world. Italian Ministry of the Environment and Territory Protection, Friuli Museum of Natural History, Udine.
  • Watson J., Hamilton-Smith E., Gillieson D., Kiernan K. 1997: Guidelines for cave and karst protection. IUCN – The World Conservation Union, Gland.
  • Wilkens H., Culver D. C., Humphreys W. 2000: Ecosystems of the World. Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam.


Short written seminar, its presentation and exam. 50/50

Lecturer's references

Associate Professor of Biology.


1. ŽGANEC K., GOTTSTEIN S., 2009: The river before damming: distribution and ecological notes on the endemic species Echinogammarus cari (Amphipoda: Gammaridae) in the Dobra River and its tributaries, Croatia. Aquatic Ecology, 43, 105-115.

2. ZAKŠEK V., SKET B., GOTTSTEIN S., FRANJEVIĆ D., TRONTELJ P., 2009: The limits of cryptic diversity in groundwater: phylogeography of the cave shrimp Troglocaris anophthalmus (Crustacea: Decapoda: Atyidae). Molecular Ecology, 18, 931-946.

3. BONACCI O., GOTTSTEIN S., ROJE-BONACCI T., 2009: Negative impacts of grouting on the underground karst environment. Ecohydrology, 2, 492-502.

4. ŽGANEC K., ĐURIĆ P., GOTTSTEIN S., 2011: Life History Traits of the Endangered Endemic Amphipod Echinogammarus cari (Crustacea, Gammaridae) from the Dinaric Karst. Internat. Rev. Hydrobiol., 96, 6, 686–708.

5. KLOBUČAR G., PODNAR M., JELIĆ M., FRANJEVIĆ D., FALLER M., ŠTAMBUK A. GOTTSTEIN S., SIMIĆ V., MAGUIRE I., 2013: Role of the Dinaric Karst (western Balkans) in shaping the phylogeographic structure of the threatened crayfish Austropotamobius torrentium. Freshwater Biology, 58, 6, 1089–1105.

University course code: 3KR008

Year of study: 2

Semester: 2

Course principal:



  • Lectures: 50 hours
  • Seminar: 30 hours
  • Field exercises: 10 hours
  • Individual work: 90 hours

Course type: elective

Languages: english

Learning and teaching methods:
• lectures • field lectures and field work • individual work of a selected investigation and presentation as a seminar work