Marine Biology Station Piran
Marine Biology Station Piran operates within the framework of National Institute of Biology (NIB) and is the only Slovenian institution that studies the sea and monitors its quality. The researchers of MBP Piran are focused on the research in the areas of physical, chemical and biological oceanography.
For more information about MBP Piran, its projects and operations, please refer to the web sites.
Research on marine biodiversity is crucial in understanding what is happening in the sea and to comprehend the impact of anthropogenic factors on the marine environment. At the same time this kind of research is indispensable for assessing the ecological and environmental status of the sea as identified in European environmental legislation (Water Framework Directive, Marine Strategy Framework Directive). In concordance with this legislation, we are selecting several biological indicators for the appropriate evaluation of the status of the sea at the level of species, habitat types, and benthic and nectonic communities. In this context we are continually monitoring the status of benthic invertebrates, macroalgae, seagrass meadows, fish assemblage, Mediterranean stony coral, biogenic formations and other target species. We prepared a detailed and comprehensive monitoring program for the Slovenian sea, which contains both biological elements and supporting physico-chemical elements, in the contenxt of the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
Oceans and seas represent the largest part of the Earth’s biosphere and marine microbes are the most abundant group of organisms, capable of growing in all marine habitats. Microbes are the key players in marine food webs and are involved in all biogeochemical cycles. The central focus of our research is to study the impacts of variable supply regimes of different inorganic and organic matter on the function and diversity of the microbial communities, mainly Bacteria and Achaea, in shallow enclosed coastal marine ecosystems. Oceanographic properties are strongly affected by water mass exchange, river inflow and meteorological conditions, which influence the microbial community composition and function. Our recent and ongoing projects are especially focusing on the microbial community response to changes of physiochemical environmental parameters, phytoplankton blooms, massive gelatinous zooplankton outbreaks and accumulations of organic matter (i.e. marine snow, macroaggregates).Furthermore, we are investigating the response of marine microbial communities to different source of anthropogenic pollutants.
Our research area is mainly physical oceanography of coastal waters. We are engaged in both experimental oceanography and modeling in coastal waters, including the exploration of the dynamics of water masses, which is based on data from operational oceanography, that is, the numerical forecasting. We are engaged in data mining of oceanographic data and combining the oceanographic knowledge with the ecological dynamics and sediment transport.
The meiofauna research at the Marine Biology Station started back in 1976. Meiofauna is an ecological unit, defined by formal size fraction between 38 μm mesh size as lower limit and 1000 μm as upper limit. The permanent meiofauna is composed of various higher taxa, among which the most abundant are Nematoda and Harpacticoida. The majority of recognized marine phyla have meiofaunal representatives. This group is characterized by a short life span and a fast reproduction cycle. Moreover, the meiofauna is very effective in utilizing a wide variety of available food resources and can be bottom-up controlled by the concentration of food. This makes them good indicators of pollution. In addition to the taxonomy of harpacticoid copepods, starting from 2006 we also carried out laboratory experiments with stable isotopes (13C) to track the trophic links through the food web (natural isotopic composition and enrichment in the laboratory).