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Ecology of Protists

Code: 54601
ECTS: 5.0
Lecturers in charge: izv. prof. dr. sc. Renata Matoničkin Kepčija - Lectures
izv. prof. dr. sc. Marija Gligora Udovič - Lectures
Lecturers: Marija Gligora Udovič - Practicum
Renata Matoničkin Kepčija - Practicum
Take exam: Studomat
English level:


All teaching activities will be held in Croatian. However, foreign students in mixed groups will have the opportunity to attend additional office hours with the lecturer and teaching assistants in English to help master the course materials. Additionally, the lecturer will refer foreign students to the corresponding literature in English, as well as give them the possibility of taking the associated exams in English.

1. komponenta

Lecture typeTotal
Lectures 30
Practicum 30
* Load is given in academic hour (1 academic hour = 45 minutes)
Learning outcomes

1. To analyse the structure and dynamics of protists in response to environmental parameters in aquatic ecosystems.
2. Select and use the appropriate literature for determination of individual groups of protists.
3. Select the method and frequency of sampling protozoa and algae in aquatic ecosystems so that the results can be used in scientific and technical research.
4. Present specifics of alpha, beta and gamma diversity of protists and discuss patterns of their diversity with respect to spatial scale.
5. Identify place of the protists in food webs and understand protists impact on the nutrient cycling and energy flow in ecosystems and to implement and adapt the theoretical assumptions about population dynamics of prostists in real situations.
6. To classify species of protists in functional groups with an understanding of the value of such scientifical approach in ecology and environmental protection.
7. Make the plan of the research by providing the necessary materials and the time frame and implement, by their own, the each phase of the process.
8. To master work in an interdisciplinary team during the scientific research.
9. Select and use the appropriate software packages for analyzing protists populations and the impact of environmental factors.
10. Critically analyze and discuss the results of research and synthesize and evaluate the results of the research in aquatic ecosystems for the purpose of scientific publication.

Classes are organized in 15 working weeks
First part of the course (Ecology of protozoa) 7.5 working weeks (15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of practicum)

1. General characteristics of protozoa, groups of protozoa. Size of protozoa. The diversity of protozoa.
2. Control of movement in protozoa, taxes and kineses.
3. Reproduction of protozoa. The concept of species within the protozoa.
4. Locomotor structures in protozoa. Movement velocity.
5. Feeding in protozoa. Filtration efficiency of individual taxa.
6. Impact of abiotic and biotic factors on protozoa assemblages.
7. Survival of protozoa in unfavourable conditions. Morphogenesis in protozoa.
8. Aquatic biocenoses. Protozoa in the benthos. Morphological and physiological adaptations on sediment. Boundary layer in lotic systems.
9. Sampling methods and methods of analyses of microzoobentic community. Colonization.
10. Protozoa in plankton. Plankton size categories. Aggregates as specific habitats. Adjustments of protist on free living in plankton. Protozoa in the microbial loop
11. Ecological efficiency of protozoa.
12. Niche differentiation in protozoa.
13. Ecology of parasitic protozoa. Programmed cell death in protozoa.
14. Protozoa in soil.
15. Symbiosis in protozoa.

1. Laboratory analysis of protozoa.
2. Organization of the experiment in the laboratory, preparation of the substrate and inoculum.
3. Set up of the experiment succession of protozoa on different medium.
4. Experiment observations, sampling and microscopy.
5. Statistical analysis of data.
6. Interpretation of the results and conclusion.

Second part of the course (Ecology of algae) 7.5 working weeks (15 hours of lectures and 15 hours of practical work)
Lectures in the second part integrate taxonomic content with the skills of research in ecology of protists, algae.

1. General characteristics and taxonomy of algae.
2. The basic skills for exploration and study of algal taxonomy.
3. Scientific project and investigations of algal ecology in freshwater systems and seas.
4. Species composition, abundance, biomass, functional status and distribution of algae in freshwater and seas.

Protists communities and their ecological position in plankton, benthos and periphyton.

Ecology of phytoplankton in lakes.
1. The basic theoretical assumptions of alternative stable states of the lakes.
2. Phytoplankton succession.
3. Use of ecological concepts in description of phytoplankton succession.
4. Review of the steady state theory in phytoplankton community.
5. Model of phytoplankton study using functional approach and comparison of functional and traditional taxonomic classifications of phytoplankton.
6. Phytoplankton as biological water quality element in lakes.

Ecology of phytoplankton, phytobenthos and periphyton in rivers and streams.
1. Basic terms in phytobenthos ecology.
2. Colonization processes of periphytic algae.
3. Abiotic and biotic factors influencing periphyton growth.
4. Biotic interactions in periphyton.
5. Integration of substrate and periphyton.
6. Regulation of growth, mortality and lost process in the periphyton ecology.
7. Use of diatoms in water quality assessment.
8. Phytoplankton as a biological water quality element in large rivers.

Ecology of phytoplankton in the seas
1. Spatial and temporal distribution of phytoplankton in the Adriatic Sea


1. Simulation of algal research planning with emphasis on goals and hypotheses.
2. Laboratory analysis of species in phytoplankton, phytobenthos and periphyton.
3. Utermohl method as the main method for analysis of phytoplankton in freshwater and oceans. The use of software for algal morphology analysis.
4. Abundance and biomass of phytoplankton in freshwater and seas.
5. Preparation of permanent freshwater diatom slides and estimation of species abundance on permanent slides.
6. Use of different software for presentation of the results of phytoplankton spatial and temporal distribution as well as physical and chemical properties of ecosystem.
7. Analysis of phytoplanktopn assemblages using descripive statistics in PRIMER software.
8. Presentation of the physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem using Grapher and Surfer software.
9. Testing the relation between environmental parameters and phytoplankton using diverse statistic software.
10. Interpretation of results.
11. Synthesis and evaluation of the results and conclusion.
  1. Fenchel, T., 1987: Ecology of Protozoa. Springer Verlag, Berlin.
    Stevenson, R. Jan; Bothwell, Max L.; Lowe, Rex L. (1996) Algal Ecology: Freshwater Benthic Ecosystem. Elsevier. SAD.
  2. Wetzel R.G. (2001) Limnology, Third Edition: Lake and River Ecosystems, Academic Press
  3. O Sullivan, P.E. and Reynolds, C.S. (2003) The Lakes Handbook: Limnology and Limnetic ecology. John Wiley and Sons
  4. Allan, J.D. and Castillo, M.M. (2007) Stream Ecology. Springer.
  5. Vilicic, D. (2014) Ecology and Composition of Phytoplankton in the Adriatic Sea. Koeltz Scientific Book
2. semester
MODUL: BIOLOŠKA ZAŠTITA OKOLIŠA - Mandatory studij - Environmental Sciences
Consultations schedule:

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