Grant holder

SubBioLab, Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia

Short description

Subterranean Biology Lab (short: SubBioLab) is a research team, working at the Department of Biology, Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana. We study fauna of various subterranean habitats, using faunistic, taxonomic, phylogenetic, behavioural and biogeographical approaches. We manage a spatial database on subterranean species, covering mainly the Western Balkans (SubBioDB). Our activities are dedicated also to use such knowledge in nature conservation strategies.

Mail address

Jamnikarjeva 101, SI1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


Further info

Project partner

Center for Karst and Speleology, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Short description

Center for Karst and Speleology (short: CKS) is an NGO, dedicated to raising awareness on  problematics of karst fragmentation and protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina. CKS is a publisher of different types of publications, including different types of educational brochures and flyers with mentioned topics. In recent years, CKS actively participated in karst protection by running several projects, some of them even supported by CEPF. As a project partner CKS will provide important links with local environments, participate in field work activities and organising the events, and encourage students/naturalists to join the project activities.

Mail address

Branilaca Sarajeva 30, 71 000 Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina


Further info


Maja Zagmajster (SubBioLab)

I am the main coordinator of the project. My research is mainly focused toward studies of the ecology and biodiversity of subterranean fauna, but also ecology of bats. I manage the spatial database on distribution of subterranean species, and conduct studies of patterns and processes in subterranean biodiversity on various scales. My assignments include planning and conducting field work, educational activities, data management and communication with different stakeholders.

Jasminko Mulaomerović (CKS)

I graduated from telecommunications, have Master thesis in phylosophy, and Phd in karstology – three totally unrelated topics. Speleology is my hobby, and I tend to do research until I am alive. I am the coordinator of the activities of the project partner, participating in all aspects of the project.

Gregor Bračko (SubBioLab)

I am an independent expert associate, and have taxonomical expertise in ants. In the project, I am taking care of the samples collected in the field, managing the records in the online database, as well as curating the physical collection of morphological samples.

Špela Borko (SubBioLab)

I am a PhD student, working on resolving the phylogeny of blind amphipods of the family Niphargidae. One of my topics is specially focused on niphargid diversity of the Dinaric region. I participate in conducting field work, as well as molecular analyses of the samples of cave amphipods.

Teo Delić (SubBioLab)

I work as a researcher on cave organisms, with a special interest in groundwater amphipods and subterranean beetles. I cover field work activities, from planning to performance, as well as morphological and molecular analyses of the collected samples. My field experience in caving and sampling of subterranean animals form the basis for evaluating the conservation status of caves and subterranean species.

Miralem Husanović (CKS)

I am a speleologist, alpine climbing instructor and a member of Mountain rescue team. I have organised and participated at numerous speleological events, workshops, conferences and schools. In the period from 2016 – 2018, I was a president of the Committee for Speleology in Mountaineering Association of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Žiga Fišer (SubBioLab)

I am a biologist, mainly working on the topics of behavioral ecology in cave animals, particularly aspects concerning transition and speciation from surface to cave environment. In this project, I will help with field work. I am excited to visit this fantastic part of the Dinaric Karst to ‘give a hand’ in discovering and conserving its hidden subterranean wildlife.

Cene Fišer (SubBioLab)

I am an expert in amphipod morphological taxonomy. My responsibility is to identify amphipod samples, morphologically revise and describe putative species delimited by molecular methods, and to reconcile the classical amphipod taxonomy with barcodes. Additionally, I am taking part in the workshops on species’ identification and student education.

Ognjen Matović (CKS)

Although I am originally a lawyer, I spend my free time mountaineering and exploring caves. Due to my activities in caves I got interested in speleobiology, and already participated in different speleobiological studies in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am interested in both, biology of subterranean fauna, as well as bats – I regularly participate winter monitoring of bats in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Ester Premate (SubBioLab)

As a Ph.D. student, I am exploring the functional diversity of the cave amphipods in the Dinarides. I take part mostly in fieldwork, where I am especially excited to put on neoprene and sample aquatic cave animals.

Behare Rexhepi (SubBioLab)

I am a biologist, who just recently became fully involved in speleobiology, although being a caver for a longer time. I work mostly in the molecular genetic laboratory, but also love the fieldwork.

Anja Kos (SubBioLab)

I’m a caver and a biologist, working as a researcher. My tasks include fieldwork, managing the samples and updating the database. Currently, we are working towards the development of the database for the project area.

Monika Šafhauzer (CKS)

I am a student of Biology-Biochemistry and Physiology at the Faculty for Natural History and Mathematics at University of Sarajevo. I am leading the Society of Biology Students in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I got acquainted with field work activities during yearly student research camps. I participate at speleobiological studies, especially in monitoring of bats. I am especially interested in their physiology and hibernation, and am finishing the final Batchelor degree thesis on bats.

Peter Trontelj (SubBioLab)

I am a Professor, giving courses covering the themes of evolution, biodiversity, bioinformatics and ecology. I participate mainly with interpreting the data in the conservation context.

Valerija Zakšek (SubBioLab)

As a researcher, I am in charge of detailed molecular studies of several subterranean groups of organisms, mainly aquatic. I offer help in molecular analyses of the samples, field work and conservation related topics.


Speleological Club »Zelena brda«, Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina

The club was founded in 1972, with the aim to investigate caves and their characteristics (morphology, paleohistorical findings etc.). It has educated members in speleological research, and is a member of Cave Resque Team of Republic Srpska. The society has investigated over 300 caves mainly in the Western Balkans, but also other parts of the world. The society organised many caving expeditions within BIH, as well as internationally, and cooperates with domestic and international cave, research and diving teams.


The Devon Karst Research Society (UK) and the »Proteus Project«

Brian Lewarne and his team working on “The Proteus Projects in Bosnia and Hercegovina” are based in Trebinje. They have been working on the subjects of studying, conservation, conservation-management and protection of Proteus anguinus habitats, ultimately at the ecosystem level, for almost two decades, not only in the Trebišnjica River catchment but also, in other river catchment areas in BiH. Their research is complementary to the SUBBIOCODE project, especially in raising public awareness through education on the importance of Dinaric Karst subterranean waters as habitats of exceptionally rich hypogean biodiversity, together with their importance as sources of potable water and other ecosystem services they provide. They collaborate closely with the Speleological Society ” Zelena brda” (Trebinje) and have an intrinsic partnership with their team of cave-divers from “Caudata Hungarian Cave Research Group” (Budapest).

Public Enterprise Vjetrenica, Ravno, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Public enterprise (PE) Vjetrenica is managing a major touristic site in the region, cave Vjetrenica, and is generally supporting any activities contributing to studying and conservation of subterranean fauna in Popovo polje. The PE is managing the activities in the Museum of speleobiology in Zavala, which is suitable to host workshops, meetings etc. The PE is trying to achieve the declaration of Vjetrenica as strict nature reserve.



Species identification within the hotspot is possible only through collaboration with taxonomy specialists, who helped us with morphological determination of collected specimens.

Therefore, we are sincerely grateful for unselfish help to dr. Patrick Martin from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium (determination of Oligochaeta), dr. Tone Novak and dr. Peter Kozel from Slovenia (Opiliones), dr. Dragan Antić from the University of Belgrade, Serbia (Diplopods), dr. Anton Brancelj from the National Institute of Biology, Slovenia (Copepods), dr. Martina Pavlek from the Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia (spiders), dr. Florian Malard from the Claude Bernard University, France (Isopods genus Proasellus) and Peter Hlavač from the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (Pselaphidae beetles). 


Own contributions of partners

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