National Institute of Biology, Marine Biology Station Piran

Research at National Institute of Biology (Slovenia) is organized into several research departments, one is Marine Biology Station Piran (MBS). NIB research is in the fields of biology, environmental protection, biotechnology and biomedicine. The research of the MBS is focused on characteristics and processes in coastal waters due to anthropogenic pressures, impacts of pollution, biogeochemical processes, plankton ecology, marine biodiversity and comparative genomics, hydrography and modelling of coastal ecosystems.

Infrastructural centre of MBS operates with a research vessel (12 m), a boat (5 m) and a diving base with SCUBA facilities. MBS offers access to laboratories for molecular biology and microbiology manipulations, general biology and microscopy facilities, two growth chambers (10 m2), chemical analysis including scintillation counter, wet laboratory and facilities for physical oceanography of coastal waters and on-board instruments and sampling equipment (ADCP, CTD/PAR/fluorescence probe, water column and bottom sampling gears, underwater video and photographic equipment). The HF radar (WERA) set up in the Piran, works in pair with an equal system at OGS in Trieste and monitors the currents and waves over the Gulf of Trieste. The Oceanographic Buoy “Vida” (app. 2 nautical miles away) provides real-time data of meteorological (air T, humidity, wind), physical and chemical parameters (seawater T, salinity, currents, waves, PAR, dissolved oxygen, chlorophyll-a). MBS is a part of coastal observational network (EuroGOOS, MonGOOS, EmodNET) and NODC (National Oceanographic Data Centre) and data provider for Transitional, Coastal and Marine Waters within EIONET. MBS provides access to an LTER site within the LifeWatch-SI consortium and is included into several associations: MARS network, EUROMARINE, IOC-UNESCO, CIESM, MED POL… MBS has certified experts in the field of HAB, representatives in the many international and national committees. MBS offered access to variety of ecosystems including littoral hard bottom and soft bottom habitats with seagrass meadows, stony coral banks and biogenic formations, coastal lagoons, salinas and river mouths.

We have experiences in covering a wide range of research problems:

- biodiversity of coastal communities and habitats,

- plankton and microbial ecology, eutrophication and HABs,

- dispersal, trophic interactions and comparative genomics of different groups of gelatinous plankton,

- physical oceanography and modeling of tidal dynamics and circulation,

- cycling of organic matter,

- aquaculture impacts on benthic communities, impacts of pollutants on biota and degradations processes.

Our main areas of expertise are in marine biodiversity at different levels including genomic approach and evolutionary issues, plankton ecology, microbial ecology, physical oceanography and chemical pollution with their biological effects on biota. This multidisciplinary approach aims at integrating biological, chemical and physical oceanography of coastal sea into research of ecosystem biocomplexity including human impacts. We study the role of phytoplankton in the carbon cycle of coastal pelagic ecosystem, photosynthetic characteristics and photoacclimation processes, as well as ecology, monitoring and mitigation of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB). By applying analysis of time series and detection of regime shifts we study the impact of climate change and effects of eutrophication. Occurrence of harmful phenomena (mucilage, HAB, bottom layer oxygen depletion) is explained in the light of tide, wind driven and high frequency variations of circulation.

Research of marine biodiversity is focused on the status of benthic invertebrates, macroalgae, seagrass meadows, fish assemblage and biogenic formations. We try to understand the impact of anthropogenic stressors on the marine environment with the ultimate goal to assess the ecological and environmental status of the sea as identified in European environmental legislation (MSFD and WFD). We continuously undertake surveys of the occurrence of non-native species (bioinvasion) and organisms associated with the process of tropicalisation and their potential impacts on native species.

Microbial ecologists study the impacts of variable supply regimes of different inorganic and organic matter on the function and diversity of the marine microbial communities. Ongoing projects are focused on the microbial community response to changes of physicochemical environmental parameters, phytoplankton blooms, massive gelatinous zooplankton outbreaks and accumulations of organic matter (i.e. marine snow, macroaggregates) and to different anthropogenic pollutants.

Pollution related research is focused on the cycling of pollutants, including microplastics, in the marine environment and their degradation, with an emphasis on the photochemical degradation. We also study advanced oxidation processes, which are important for the degradation of different pollutant in waste waters and marine environment. Effects of pollutants are studied on several marine species (mussels, fish), especially genotoxic effects by using micronuclei, Comet assay, oxidative stress and biochemical biomarkers of exposure.

Summary Role

Offering internships, Offering thesis subjects

List of Courses