Knowledge atlas Science

Professor Tatjana Bakran-Petricioli, Ph.D., Biology and Marine Biology


Tatjana Bakran-Petricioli, a marine biologist at the University of Zagreb, specializes in Adriatic benthic habitats. Her research on sediment dynamics and climate change impacts has led to seminal projects with international teams. Notably, she led the ‘Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas’ initiative, addressing biodiversity degradation through innovative methods and multi-sector partnerships.

Name of Field in the local language
Biologija i biologija mora
Area of Expertise
Marine biology and ecology in general; biology and ecology of submerged karst; ecology of benthic habitats in the Adriatic, particularly the class Porifera; classification and mapping of marine benthic habitats; deep-sea benthic habitats and their connection to marine caves in the Adriatic Sea; impact of climate change and marine heatwaves on marine organisms; biological indicators of mean sea level.; Engagement in collaborative interdisciplinary research on mean sea level biological indicators with Professor Sanja Faivre from the Department of Geography at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb.
Scientists / Scientific team
Professor Tatjana Bakran-Petricioli, Ph.D.
Location, Institution, Website
University of Zagreb Faculty of Science, Department of Biology, Roosevelt square 6, 10000 Zagreb, Croatia;; Link to website
Type of Institution
Years of Active working in the Field
Collaborators or Successors
Donat Petricioli, biologist and professional diver, main collaborator; scientists from Greece, Italy and France, as part of research work on marine caves; students, graduates, in a professorship role

Laboratory and research space
Fieldwork, underwater in the sea or in brackish lakes; Faculty of Science, Department of Biology: office space (currently under renovation) shared rooms, Central Biological Library, the Faculty’s online repository, other digital scientific research catalogs and related academic platforms, collection of the Department's Division of zoology (contains extensive zoological collections of species characteristic of Croatia and houses living or preserved organisms valuable for research and education, including special sub-collections of extinct species)
Materials and equipment
Diving equipment, sampling devices, underwater data loggers (for monitoring temperature, light, and water level), underwater cameras, transects, different measuring devices, optical equipment, standard laboratory equipment such as desks, sinks, dishes, and gas burners, chemicals (e.g. ethanol, histological stains, nitric acid, araldite for microscopic preparations) and accessories (e.g. scissors, tweezers, dissecting needles)
Technology / Tools / Machines
Computers and programs for analyzing photo and video material, microscopes and stereo-microscopes equipped with with cameras and measuring devices, fume hoods and dryers
Research Methods / Processes
Combination of field work and laboratory work, diving expeditions; sequential stages including: observation, question formation, hypothesis development, method design, experimentation, measurement, recording, data analysis, drawing conclusions, and prediction
Members / Employees
Students or other Researchers
Interdisciplinary work with colleagues from the Department of Geography at the Faculty and colleagues from the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split (Croatia), as well as from the Division for Marine and Environmental Research of Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb
Education of the Scientist
Ph.D. in Natural Sciences, majoring in Biology, earned in 1993 from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Science; Further scientific training as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, during the academic year 1990/1991; M.Sc. degree in Natural Sciences, with a focus on Biology, obtained in 1989 from the Faculty of Science at the University of Zagreb, Croatia; Postgraduate Study in Natural Sciences, specializing in Biology (Molecular Biology), also completed at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Science in 1989.; Additionally, Tatjana specialized in various topics in marine biology through training programs at different scientific and academic institutions in Austria, France, and Germany. She also participated in four international scientific interdisciplinary oceanographic expeditions in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas aboard the Italian research ship Urania.

Most impactful project
Scientific projects: ‘Research of Endangered Marine Habitats of Submerged Karst in the Coastal Sea of Croatia’; ‘Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas’; ‘Relative Change of Sea Level and Climate Change along the Eastern Adriatic Coast’; Artistic projects: ‘Mare Modul’
Grant or funding information
Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia, European Commission, Croatian Science Foundation, professional enterprises which need biological survey and expert opinion, as well as local and national public institutes for nature protection.

Awards, certifications, or scientific recognition
Tatjana received the Biology Students' Award in 2008 for her dedicated knowledge, effort, and patience towards students. The award was officially presented during the Faculty of Science Day at the University of Zagreb.; Tatjana served as the principal investigator in three scientific projects (two national and one competitive international) from 2016 to 2020, including the Horizon 2020 RIA project 'Marine Ecosystem Restoration in Changing European Seas' (MERCES).; Since 1986, Tatjana has collaborated on thirteen national scientific projects, four of which were funded by the Croatian Science Foundation. Additionally, she has led nineteen expert projects at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, up to the present. Her scientific papers have been cited 764 times in Web of Science, 918 times in SCOPUS, 1518 times in Google Scholar, and 1481 times in ResearchGate. Her h-index is 15 in Web of Science, 17 in SCOPUS, 21 in Google Scholar, and 21 in ResearchGate.

Tatjana’s involvement in the artistic project ‘Mare Modul’, initiated by ceramic artist Lidia Boševski, is particularly meaningful in the context of art and science knowledge exchange.

Tatjana is a marine biologist and ecologist. Up to now, Tatjana has published 64 scientific papers, among which 34 are in Web of Science indexed journals and 5 are in SCOPUS indexed journals. Among those 34 papers, 17 are in the Q1 category, and 9 are in the Q2 category (JCR). Tatjana has presented over a hundred contributions at international and domestic scientific conferences and has published 4 books as a single author, along with numerous professional and popular articles. Since 2017, she has been a member of the Scientific Council for scientific research of the Adriatic Sea of the Croatian Academy of Science and Arts. Since 1986, Tatjana has participated in undergraduate and graduate teaching in the Biology Study at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. She teaches a number of courses in marine biology and ecology and also teaches at the Doctoral study of Biology and at the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Study of Oceanography at the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. She has over 7000 norm hours of experience in independent academic teaching, including lectures, seminars, practical work, and fieldwork. Tatjana has mentored 4 dissertations, 2 master’s theses, and 62 undergraduate theses.

The Zoological Department conducts extensive research in various fields of zoology, recognisable for its ecotoxicological research and biodiversity protection. The Department includes a library and a rich collection of zoological specimens, and collaborates with numerous domestic and foreign institutions. Intensive collaboration within the Biological Department, interdisciplinary field research, and intensive marine biology research in the field of Adriatic Sea constitute key aspects of the Department’s activities. Animal breeding facilities are indispensable in teaching and research, providing necessary resources for diverse studies and experiments. Laboratory and the faculty building are currently under construction.

The scientific method is an approach used by researchers to either support or disprove a theory. Simply put, it consists of the following steps: Observation, Question, Hypothesis, Method, Experiment, and Conclusion. It all begins with an observation of something noteworthy in the material world, which then leads to the formation of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a guess about the outcome of an experiment, which researchers then test by designing and trying out different methods, drawing upon their creativity and knowledge. Throughout this process, the hypothesis undergoes constant change, modification, and refinement. This step is followed by experiments and measurements conducted according to the designed methods, with careful attention paid to factors such as sample size, controls, and repetitions. The results and data are recorded and analyzed. Based on the analysis, the researcher then decides whether the hypothesis is supported or rejected.

Throughout her career, Tatjana has conducted numerous successful research projects. These include discovering a deep-sea carnivorous sponge in an Adriatic marine cave, correlating marine organism mass mortalities with Mediterranean marine heat waves, and studying Marine Lake Zmajevo Oko in Rogoznica. This lake, functioning as a small bioreactor, is endangered due to recent climate changes, signaling potential threats to other shallow coastal areas. Her work focuses on interdisciplinary collaborations with experts from biology, geography, chemistry, physics, geology, and mathematics. For example, by analyzing biological sea-level indicators like algal rims alongside archaeological data, her team determined ancient sea levels and calculated sea level rise over two millennia, also documenting past seismic events. This research sheds light on future sea level rise predictions and the impact of climatic events on marine life. Tatjana’s involvement in the artistic project ‘Mare Modul’, initiated by ceramic artist Lidia Boševski, is particularly meaningful. Artists created ceramic habitats submerged in areas already affected by human activities. The research team monitors marine organisms’ colonization of these habitats. The ‘Mare Modul’ project received the 2018 annual award from the Croatian Association of Applied Arts Artists for the best exhibition.