Research team

Najla Baković, mag. oecol.

My main topic of interest are protozoa (Protista: Protozoa) with a special emphasis on testate amoebas (Testace). In my research, I am trying to develop a methodology that could show their true biodiversity and help us to better understand trophic relationships in the subterranean habitats. Important part of these researcher is understanding the factors that influence protozoa biodiversity such as: hydrological conditions, water quality, the presence of bats etc., which is why I am trying to cooperate with various scientists and experts. Besides protozoa, I am also interested in the research of lampenflora invasive potential and accompanying heterotrophic and saprophytic organisms in the context of protection of subterranean ecosystems.

Helena Bilandžija, PhD

In 2005, I graduated with a degree in ecology from the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. My undergraduate thesis involved research on the Ogulin cave sponge Eunapius subterraneus. In 2007, I started a PhD program at the Laboratory for molecular genetics at the Rudjer Boskovic Institute, under the supervision of Helena Ćetković. In 2013, I defended a dissertation on „Molecular evolution of cave animals“. In 2015, I was awarded a Newfelpro fellowship from the Marie Currie fund and joined the group of Professor William Jeffery at the University of Maryland. There I worked mainly on the model cave fish Astyanax mexicanus.

My research interests are in the processes of colonization and adaptation to subterranean lifestyle in cave-adapted animals. Currently, my main focus is the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms of the loss of pigmentation, one of the hallmarks of cave-dwelling animals. For that purpose, I have been using various methodologies (developmental, molecular, genetic and genomic) and numerous cave organisms (from sponges, planaria, mollusks, arthropods to fish).

I joined CBSS in 2002 and since then have been actively involved in many of its activities, both research and educational. I am an author of several research papers, books, educational booklets and exhibits and I have delivered numerous scientific and popular scientific lectures.

Petra Bregović, PhD Student, MSc in Experimental Biology

I was interested in biospeleology since the beginning of my college days, and become an active member of CBSS in 2006. During my master thesis, I started to work on subterranean beetles, studying the taxonomy and distribution of the two cholevid genera (Anthroherpon and Leptomeson) in Croatia. As part of the thesis, five new species for science were described. After that, I got enrolled in a doctoral study in Ljubljana, where I still work on understanding the biodiversity patterns of subterranean beetles of Dinarides. Inside CBSS I am active on many projects, and I manage the collection of the subterranean beetles.

Kristijan Cindrić, MSc in Experimental Biology


Growing up in the city of Ogulin, I developed a strong connection with the karst environment. During biology studies at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, I gained interest in the subterranean habitats and life within. I’ve finished my caving course and joined Croatian Biospeleological Society in 2014. Through fieldwork, subterranean snails (Gastropoda) caught my attention and as a result becamethe main subject of my master thesis where, among other things, I researched the distribution of the superfamily Rissooidea in the surrounding area of Ogulin. Besides biogeography and biology of subterranean snails, I’m interested in an interdisciplinary approach in the exploration of cave habitats. I believe that education is equally important as research, so I’m involved in projects where the main goal is the education of youth and the general public.

Tamara Čuković, MSc in Ecology

I was born in Zagreb in 1986. I attained a Master’s degree in 2011 in Ecology and Environmental Protection at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb with the thesis “Diversity and distribution of cave springtail on Mt. Velebit”. As an active member and associate biologist in the Croatian Biospeleological Society, I participated in numerous projects through research of cave fauna and its habitat, biospeleological monitoring, laboratory work and analysis, and participation in scientific conferences. I am also a leader of projects dealing with research and protection of underground ecosystems as well as those aiming to raise public awareness of the importance of conservation of cave fauna and habitats. I am one of the authors of „The cave type localities Atlas of Croatian fauna“ and “National Monitoring Programs for Congeria kusceri, Congeria jalzici and Leptodirus hochenwartii in Croatia”, and other popular, professional and scientific publications. In my professional carrier, I work in nature protection.

Anđela Ćukušić, PhD Student, MSc in Ecology

I attained a Master’s degree in Ecology and Environmental Protection at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb with the thesis „Faunistics, ecology and biogeography of the cave-dwelling spiders of the families Nesticidae and Agelenidae (Araneae) in Croatia“. Now, as a PhD student, I am using DNA barcoding methodology to study biodiversity and phylogenetic of caddisfly fauna (Insecta, Trichoptera) in Croatia. I became a member of the CBSS in 2009, and since then have participated in research on the subterranean biodiversity, but also took part in activities dealing with raising public awareness and conservation of cave species and habitats. Interest in biospeleology and speleology started when I finished speleological school in 2007. Through plenty of speleological expedition and research, I fulfill my desire for exploration. I enjoy drawing little-known cave species, drawings that usually end up on T-shirts, logos of the CBSS or educational material. I also work on the digitalization of cave maps. As the most significant contribution to the CBSS activities, I would point out the collecting of cave fauna on numerous expeditions and the work on „The cave type localities Atlas of Croatian fauna“.

Hrvoje Cvitanović

I have been a member of CBSS since 1997. During this long period, I have participated in numerous biospeleological research from which I would point out the research of the island of Mljet, Biokovo Mt., Dubrovnik area and Papuk. In the field, I usually collect fauna, map the caves, participate in speleological research and photograph. In the lab, I sort out the samples collected in the field, edit images and digitalize cave maps. I participate in the scientific and popular publication of the CBSS and, as an editor of speleological journal Subterranea Croatica, encourage publishing papers that deal with subterranean fauna and habitats.

Teo Delić, PhD

While studying biology in Ljubljana, Slovenia, I first met with caves and speleobiology, and got stuck with both ever since. The hows and whys of the questions underlying speciation, biogeographic patterns, morphological adaptations and interactions of specialized subterranean animals – troglobiotic amphipods and beetles – became my main points of interest. In 2017, I gained the PhD on the topic of the role of ecological niches in speciation of subterranean amphipod genus Niphargus.

Tvrtko Dražina, PhD

Biospeleology started to interest me during college and I become an active member of CBSS in 2002. Since 2006, I have been working on the diplopods (Diplopoda) taxonomy. I participate in numerous projects of inventory and monitoring of underground fauna in Croatia. Also, I manage the CBSS’s diplopod collection. Since 2014, I have been a mentor of the Biospeleological section of the Association of Biology Students – BIUS. As an employee of the Division of Zoology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at the University of Zagreb, I professionally work on karst freshwater ecology, with a special interest in meiofauna and rotifers (Rotifera). In 2012, I defended my doctoral thesis from that scientific field entitled “Functional role of meiofauna in bryophytic microhabitats of karst running waters”.

Mateja Jagić, MSc in Molecular Biology

I became a member of Croatian Biospeleological Society in 2014. Since then I’ve been active in various projects related to the inventory and monitoring of the subterranean fauna. I coordinate and participate in activities of the CBSS dealing with the education of young people and promotion of biospeleology through numerous workshops and annual events on science and biology. I work as a teaching and research assistant at Division of Molecular Biology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science at the University of Zagreb, where I am doing my PhD thesis in the field of developmental plant biology. I participate in biospeleological surveys and field trips of the CBSS where I collect fauna and photograph.

Marina Kipson, MSc in Ecology

My interest in bats started early on when I enrolled in my biology studies at the Faculty of Science in Zagreb. I wished to dedicate most of my free time to the research of bats, and therefore in 2006 I became a member of the bat team at CBSS. After participating in numerous bat monitoring projects, I started to lead my own projects within CBSS, namely „Blind for bats“ in 2011 and „Monitoring of bats in caves of Plitvice Lakes National Park“ (from 2015 till 2018). During my studies and work in the CBSS, I have participated in numerous European symposiums on bats, and later on became a member of the scientific and organizing committee of the 13th European Bat Research Symposium, organized by CBSS in Šibenik (2014). After I finished my studies in Croatia, I went on to my second Master’s degree on biodiversity conservation in England, and am currently finishing my PhD in Prague on the topic of „Ecology and synanthropisation of bats in the Mediterranean region in comparison to Central European region“. Furthermore, from 2015 I have been working in the Czech Society for Ornithology on the coordination of the second European breeding bird atlas.

Alen Kirin

I have been in speleology since 2008. In my speleological career, I participated in the organization of many speleological research, from which I would single out the speleodiving expedition Lukina jama – siphon 2013. I participated in numerous speleological, speleodiving and biospeleological research in Croatia and abroad. I have been a member of CBSS since 2009 and to this day I have participated in many projects related to research and monitoring of cave fauna and habitats. In the field, I equip the caves, collect fauna and photograph.

Ana Komerički, MSc in Ecology

Za vrijeme studija biologije na PMF-u u Zagrebu završila sam speleološku školu i krenula na terenska istraživanja s HBSD-om, što je presudilo i kod odabira teme diplomskog rada. Svoje zanimanje i znanje o biospeleologiji nadograđivala sam kao član HBSD-a od 2009. godine. Bavim se taksonomijom striga (Chilopoda) vezanih uz špiljska staništa Dinarida i Europe, te njihove bioraznolikosti. Sudjelovala sam i vodila brojne projekte HBSD-a te sam sudjelovala u nekoliko speleoloških ekspedicija. Tijekom 2014. i 2015. bila sam stipendist programa za mlade stručnjake u području zaštite prirode i regionalnog razvoja NatuRegio_Balkans – Alfred Toepfer Naturschutzt Akademie (DEU), Njemačka u sklopu kojega sam provela projekt zaštite tipskih lokaliteta Popovog polja. Trenutno radim u Fauna & Flora International u Programu za krš, te aktivno sudjelujem u radu IUCN SSC Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group, međunarodne stručne radne grupe za špiljske beskralježnjake.

Boris Krstinić, professional photographer and filmmaker

Rođen sam 11. veljače 1952. godine u Zagrebu.Od 1996. godine specijaliziram se za snimanje prirode i prirodnih fenomena.


Proizvodnja TV emisije „Eko Eho“ za nacionalnu TV kuću „HRT“ od 2000.g.-2003.g. Redatelj i snimatelj emisije. Naručitelj: „Ministarstvo zaštite okoliša“
Autor fotomonografije „Dan kao godina“, o parku prirode Lonjsko polje. Knjiga proglašena najljepšom fotomonografijom o prirodi u Europi 2006.godine i ušla u zbirku muzeja knjige u Leipzigu.
Snimanje filma o parku prirode Lonjsko polje 2007.godine za „Life“(financijski instrument europske unije)
Autor fotografija za „Marine Atlas“: Ujedinjeni arapski emirati, Kraljevina Bahrein i Kraljevina Saudijska Arabija.
Autor sam mnoštva fotografija za plakate, brošure, časopise, knjige sa područja biološke raznolikosti u Hrvatskoj i inozemstvu. Kao fotograf aktivno sudjelujem unutar hrvatskog biospeleološkog društva (HBSD) na montorinzima šišmiša od 2009.godine do danas.

Nikolina Kuharić, MSc in Environmental Science

A lover of karst. In 2015 I graduated from Environmental Sciences at Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. During my studies, I become interested in biospeleology, and in 2012 I finished the speleological school and became a CBSS member. My interest lies in microwhip scorpions (Palpigradida) and mites (Acari). Along with the biospeleological research, I consider raising public awareness and education of people living in the karst area to be important for the conservation of the subterranean habitats in Dinarides. Thus, apart from participating in various biospeleological projects, I am the project leader of several educational projects for children and adults.

Petra Kutleša, MSc in Environmental Science

My research interest lies in the field of biodiversity of subterranean fauna, especially stygobiotic fauna in the Dinaric karst. I am involved in various CBSS’s projects focusing on the inventory and monitoring of subterranean fauna in Croatia. Currently, I am coordinating the project „The Cave Type Localities Atlas of Croatian Fauna, Volume 3“.

Marko Lukić, PhD Student, MSc in Biology

I’ve been a member of the CBSS since 2003. In 2007, I graduated at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb with the thesis “Biodiversity and distribution of cave Collembola on Biokovo Mt”. Since then I manage Collembola collection of the CBSS, and taxonomy and phylogeny of cave Collembola become my primary scientific interest. I have published several scientific papers on cave Collembola and participated in numerous international conferences. I started a doctoral study at the Biotechnical Faculty in Ljubljana, where I still work on a thesis dealing with systematics and biogeography of the genus Verhoeffiella (Collembola) in the Dinaric Karst. I have been a project leader and participated in numerous CBSS projects dealing with subterranean biodiversity research, raising public awareness and conservation of subterranean habitats and species. With the aim of popularizing the little know subterranean species, I mastered filming and macrophotography. I am a co-author of numerous exhibitions, leaflets and publications of the CBSS.

Kazimir Miculinić, PhD

Although I am a palentologist, through the many years in speleology and membership in the Croatian Biospeleological Society I felt the need to contribute to a better knowledge of the cave fauna outside of field research. This has resulted in the selection of taxonomic studies of a neglected group of two-pronged bristletails (Diplura), under the mentorship of Alberta Sendre.

Martina Pavlek, PhD

I’ve been an active member of the CBSS since 2003. In 2006, I graduated from the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb with the thesis “Fuanistic, ecological and biogeografic characteristics of the cave-dwelling spiders of the genus Troglohyphantes in Croatia”. Since then I have been managing the CBSS’s spider collection, and spiders became my primary scientific interest. In the period from 2009 to 2015, I did a PhD at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb on the mechanisms of satellite DNA sequence dynamics in complex genomes. I was a PI on the research project “Genome evolution of cave dwelling fauna” funded by European Social Fund. Currently I am employed as a postdoc researcher on the HiddenLife project in the lab of prof. Miquel Arnedo at the University of Barcelona. The project is funded by Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and the goal of the project is to resolve the phylogenetic relationships of three groups of cave-dwelling spiders in the Dinarides, to predict the effects of global climatic changes to their populations and to assess their sensibility. I took part in many research field trips organized by the CBSS, presented my work on several international conferences and co-authored many exhibitions, leaflets, articles and books focused on biodiversity, protection and popularization of cave fauna and caves in general.

Tin Rožman

I went through my speleological course in 2013, and became interested in biospeleology a year later when I had my first experience with such research. That is when I became a member of the CBSS. Since then, I have actively participated in the fieldwork of many projects and my areas of interest include cave mapping, fauna macrophotography and cave photography. I also participate in the sorting of biological specimens, identifying spiders and I help manage the CBSS spider collection. As a graphic designer, I design the popular and scientific publications published by CBSS.

Vedran Sudar, MSc in Geology

Rođen sam 22. travnja 1989. godine u Zagrebu, gdje sam završio srednju Geodetsku tehničku školu te sveučilišni diplomski studij geologije, smjer geologija mineralnih sirovina i geofizička istraživanja na Rudarsko-geološko-naftnom fakultetu. Kao student geologije s članovima HBSD-a krenuo sam na terenska istraživanja 2014. godine. Kroz brojne projekte HBSD-a u koje sam uključen, počeo sam sakupljati podzemnu faunu i sudjelovati u geološkim istraživanjima. U terenskom radu sam uglavnom orijentiran na izradu nacrta speleoloških objekata. Sudjelovao sam u organizaciji 1. Biospeleološke ekspedicije na Biokovu kao njen voditelj, a zanimaju me geološka istraživanja koja povezuju geologiju i speleologiju. Trenutno vodim projekt „Istraživanje sedimentoloških, mineraloških i geokemijskih značajki recentnih sedimenata u speleološkom objektu Miljacka I“.

Vida Zrnčić, prot. nat.

Zanimaju me šišmiši, njihova ekologija, distribucija i zaštita, a najviše njihovi ektoparaziti. Ta tematika me zaintrigirala još za vrijeme studija, kada sam radila istraživanje prisutnih vrsta ektoparazita na šišmišima iz Hrvatske za diplomski rad. Do sada sam sudjelovala na brojnim istraživanjima vezanim uz inventarizaciju i praćenje stanja faune šišmiša. Trenutačno sudjelujem u istraživanju prisutnosti bjesnoće kod šišmiša, te prikupljam i determiniram sve vrste njihovih ektoparazita skupljenih na brojnim istraživanjima.