Graduate School


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 for understanding the biology of subterranean habitats, to present them types of subterranean habitats, their ecological characteristics, biotic characteristics of subterranean organisms and troglomorphoses, as well as knowledge on sampling methods for ecological research work in underground habitats.



Content (Syllabus outline)

  • Historical review of speleobiology and modern trends
  • Survey of subterranean habitats and physical characteristics in different types of subterranean habitats
  • Shallow subterranean habitats: ecology, evolution, conservation
  • Survey of general characteristics of subterranean organisms
  • Adaptations to subterranean life
  • General ecological conditions in different types of subterranean habitats
  • Research methods for biological investigation and collecting of organisms in subterranean habitats
  • Conservation and protection of subterranean habitats and organisms

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

Students get skills on ecological characteristics of subterranean habitats, biotic characteristics of subterranean organisms, history of speleobiology and trends in modern scientific researches, they get practical knowledge for sampling in subterranean habitats, for ecological research work in subterranean habitats and identification of troglomorphic organisms.


  • Chapman P. 1993: Caves and cave life. Harper Collins, London.
  • Culver D. C., Kane T. C., Fong D. W. 1995: Adaptation and Natural Selection in Caves. The Evolution of Gammarus minus. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge.
  • Culver D. C., Pipan T. 2009: The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Culver D. C., Pipan T. 2014: Shallow Subterranean Habitats. Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • Gunn J. 2004: Encyclopedia of Caves and Karst Science. Fitzroy-Dearborn, New York.
  • Pipan T. 2005: Epikarst – a promising habitat. Copepod fauna, its diversity and ecology: a case study from Slovenia (Europe). Založba ZRC, Ljubljana.
  • White W. B., Culver D. C. 2012: Encyclopedia of Caves. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  • Wilkens H., Culver D. C., Humphreys W. 2000: Ecosystems of the World. Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam.
  • Selected articles from scientific journals.


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

Lecturer's references

Associate Professor of Biology.


University course code: 3KR029

Year of study: 1

Semester: 1

Course principal:




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

Course type: general elective

Languages: slovene, english

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