Ecology of animals in karst aquatic ecotonal habitats

This course is part of the programme
Karstology (Third Cycle)

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 ecotonal 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 ecotonal habitats. The special emphasis is on applying this knowledge and understanding to manage various karst aquatic environments with ecotonal features.




• The main features and concept of karst aquatic ecotonal habitats
• Ecosystem services of aquatic boundaries in karst environment
• Best practices for monitoring perennial and intermittent ecotonal habitats
• Water and fauna sampling procedure. What to measure and what for?
• Choosing and using species in assessment and management
• Data analysis and interpretation

Intended learning outcomes

Students get knowledge on ecological parallels and contrasts between various karst aquatic ecotonal environments (karst springs, anchialine caves, fens, intermittent streams). They become skilled in the sampling methodology and for the basic ecological research work in aquatic ecotonal habitats. Student get knowledge to critically analyse and evaluate environmental and faunistic data sets from ecotonal habitats, their interactions and species adaptations. They become skilled to critically analyse, evaluate and interpret data collected from field sampling.


  • Culver D. C., Pipan T. 2009: The Biology of Caves and Other Subterranean Habitats. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Catalogue
  • Culver D.C., Pipan T. 2014: Shallow subterranean habitats: ecology, evolution, and conservation. Oxford University Press, Oxford. Catalogue
  • Gibert J., Mathieu J., Fournier F. 1997: Groundwater/Surface Water Ecotones: Biological and Hydrological Interactions and Management Options. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Catalogue E-version
  • Gottstein S. 2010: Priručnik za određivanje podzemnih staništa u Hrvatskoj prema Direktivi o staništima EU. Državni zavod za zaštitu prirode, Zagreb. E-version
  • 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. E-version
  • 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. E-version
  • Wilkens H., Culver D. C., Humphreys W. 2000: Ecosystems of the World. Subterranean Ecosystems. Elsevier, Amsterdam. Catalogue


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

Lecturer's references

Full Professor of Biology.


SACLIER N., DUCHEMIN L., KONECNY‐DUPRÉ L., GRISON P., EME D., MARTIN C., CALLOU C., LEFÉBURE T., FRANÇOIS C., ISSARTEL C., LEWIS J.J., STOCH F.., SKET B., GOTTSTEIN S., DELIĆ T., ZAGMAJSTER M., GRABOWSKI M., WEBER D., REBOLEIRA A.S.P.S., PALATOV D., PARAGAMIAN K., KNIGHT L.R.F.D., MICHEL G., LEFEBVRE F., HOSSEINI M.-J.M., CAMACHO A.I., DE BIKUÑA B.G., TALEB A., BELAIDI N., TUEKAM KAYO R.P., GALASSI D.M.P., MOLDOVAN O.T., DOUADY CH.J. & MALARD F. 2024 - A collaborative backbone resource for comparative studies of subterranean evolution: The World Asellidae database. Molecular Ecology Resources, 24, 1, e13882.
GOTTSTEIN S., REDŽOVIĆ Z., ERK M., SERTIĆ PERIĆ M., DAUTOVIĆ J. & CINDRIĆ M. 2023 - Life History Traits of the Stygophilous Amphipod Synurella ambulans in the Hyporheic Zone of the Lower Reaches of the Upper Sava River (Croatia). Water, 15, 18, 3188.
REDŽOVIĆ Z., ERK M., GOTTSTEIN S. & CINDRIĆ M. 2023 - Energy Status of Stygophilous Amphipod Synurella ambulans as a Promising Biomarker of Environmental Stress in the Hyporheic Zone. Water, 15, 17, 3083.
REDŽOVIĆ Z., ERK M., GOTTSTEIN S., PERIĆ M.S., DAUTOVIĆ J., FIKET Ž., BRKIĆ A.L. & CINDRIĆ M. 2023 - Metal bioaccumulation in stygophilous amphipod Synurella ambulans in the hyporheic zone: The influence of environmental factors. Science of The Total Environment, 866, 161350.
POZOJEVIĆ I., PEŠIĆ V., GOLDSMITH T. & GOTTSTEIN S. 2020 - Crenal Habitats: Sources of Water Mite (Acari: Hydrachnidia) Diversity. Diversity, 12, 9, 316.