A month went by very quickly and two SubBIOCODE internships were finished. Džana and Miroslav used the visit to SubBioLab to get acquainted with the diverse aspects of subterranean biology research needed in conservation, and they also focused on their own specific research problems.

Džana spent quite some hours in our molecular laboratory and amplified three genetic markers of cave amphipods from the complex Niphargus cf. boskovici. Samples were coming from the SubBIOCODE project area and its surroundings. She performed molecular work and did phylogenetic analyses, which revealed that the situation within the complex is far more diverse than previously known and that it comprises more cryptic species.

Džana presenting the first results on phylogenetic relationships of individuals from Niphargus cf. boskovici complex.

Miroslav used the opportunity to make significant progress on his work on the biodiversity of the Ljubačevo cave, which he started some years ago. After the first set of sampling in 2019, he performed another one just before arrival to Ljubljana. During his visit, he sorted the samples, broadened his knowledge on sample determination and used molecular techniques for some identifications. He recorded many interesting taxa living in the Ljubačevo cave, especially cave beetles. Further plans on performing the speleobiological study of caves around Banja Luka were set, once Miroslav returns back home.

Miroslav explaining on findings of cave beetles in various parts of Ljubačevo cave in 2019 and 2021.

Furthermore, Džana and Miro learned about many research activities within SubBioLab. They were included into regular meetings of the group, and even presented the progress of their work at one of the group’s meetings. They attended some fieldwork excursions to caves, getting experiences with various research, sampling methods as well as some typical animals of karst in Slovenia. They both considered a special experience, when they were able to see the olm in its natural habitat, in Planinska cave.

Getting to know Džana and Miroslav was a delight, as they showed a lot of interest and enthusiasm about various research topics in subterranean biology. Working with talented and motivated students like them was a wonderful experience for the SubBioLab team, and we are certain that we established long term collaboration on studying the biodiversity of subterranean habitats.

We concluded Miroslav’s stay with an evening drink, where we equipped him for further explorations 🙂

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