Research Infrastructure

The Institute of Landscape Ecology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (ILE SAS) is an independent legal entity. As a grant organization, it shows long-term positive financial results. The headquarter of the Institute is located in the historical centre of Bratislava and its branch in the SAS research complex in Nitra. The buildings in Bratislava and Nitra are the property of SAS and in both of them are a library and a conference room. Each office (room) in Bratislava and Nitra is equipped with at least one computer, which is connected to an up-to-date local computer network. A high-speed internet connection of 100 Mb/s is provided via a high-speed optical cable from the server at the Computing Centre of SAS in Bratislava and the Slovak Agricultural University in Nitra. The main computing power of ILE SAS is provided by our servers: the Oracle server (GIS database administration), two terminal servers, a virtual server domain server, a 19 TB disk array for the terminal server, and two more disk arrays, one 12 TB synology and one 40 TB HP Storeeasy. The basic hardware equipment consists of 52 computers and work-stations in use, from which 36 of are high-powered work-stations for smooth running of GIS software and complicated graphics output processing. There are also available 38 notebooks, 2 micro-books, 8 A4-scanners, 3 A3-scanners, 1 A2-scanner, 1 A0-scanner, 8 copy machines, 12 laser colour printers, 23 monochrome printers, 3 data projectors, 14 PDA Trimble Juno SB with Windows Mobile, 4 industrial tablets for field collecting and editing of data, 4 industrial notebooks, 2 industrial PDAs for field collecting and editing of data, 5 data projectors, 18 GPS Garmin devices, 1 GPS Glofish device, 4 Dictaphones, a digitizer and a backup generator, 5 digital cameras, 2 faxes, 26 external discs, 2 switches (5 ports), 6 switches (10 ports), 3 switches (20 ports). Software equipment is determined by the individual needs of employees. All work-stations and notebooks run on an operation system from Microsoft using: Windows 7 Home and Professional, Vista, 8, 8.1, 10. Other software includes Microsoft Office 2003, 2007, 2010. Computer safety was assured by purchase of 68 licenses of ESET Smart Security 8.0. Each employee has an individual e-mail account using Outlook Express, Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird clients. An important integral part of software equipments are licenses for specialized GIS software – ArcView 3.1, 3.2, ArcGIS 8.1, 8.3, 9.3, 10.3, IDRISI Kilimanjaro and ERDAS. Employees of the ILE SAS use a wide spectrum of other licensed software, for example: Adobe Creative Suite CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, Corel Draw 9, 11 and 12. For statistical analyses and calculations are used Statistica CZ, Syntax, CANOCO 4.0, 5.0, Turbowin and SPSS 18.

With two infrastructure projects in the period 2012-2015, the Institute was able to significantly expand and modernize its computer and instrumentation basis necessary for further scientific development and integration into the European Research Area.Four laboratories were established: a GIS and remote sensing laboratory, an UAV laboratory, a laboratory for field ecosystem research and a laboratory of chemical analyses. The GIS and remote sensing laboratory with specialized hardware, software and licenses, is capable of managing large datasets arriving at regular intervals on the server. It aslo offers user-configurable processing, visualizing, reporting and publishing, including possibility to work with large raster formats and maps to supply data and map services.

The laboratory possesses a comprehensive GIS server, desktop GIS, mobile GIS, RDBMS systems, and remote sensing software. For field calibration, dataloggers are used for automatic recording of radiation in different spectral bands, and a portable system for hyperspectral imaging with high resolution spectral data from a ruggedized field-portable spectroradiometer, radiation sensors and spectral reflectance at different spectral bands, and NDVI and PRI sensors. The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) laboratory is a comprehensive system capable of collecting various types of data on the Earth’s surface – hyperspectral, thermal imaging and LIDAR. The basic component is the carrier module with capacity for automatic or semi-automatic long-distance navigation in the survey of earth’s surface. The system also includes specialized equipment and software for processing imaging data (a basic support module (drone) for UAV imaging, and a hyperspectral scanner, thermal camera, LIDAR and multispectral camera). The laboratory for field ecosystem research is equiped with a system for evaluation of the course of photosynthesis, a compact device for photo-chemical analysis of plants, a portable instrument for non-destructive measurement of leaf area and other morphometric parameters of plants, a device for determination of chlorophyll fluorescence, a compact device for measurement of stomatal conductance of leaves, a thermal camera for measurement of temperature of leaf surface, and an instrument for measurement of conductivity and magnetic susceptibility of soil. In addition to two complex climatic stations the ILE SAS also uses air and soil temperature sensors, soil moisture sensors, and radiation sensors. For study of bodies of water, the ILE SAS owns a remotely controlled floating platform for monitoring physical, chemical and biological parameters of water bodies. The laboratory of chemical analyses is equipped with laboratory furniture (3 rooms) and equipment for preparation of samples (drills, weighting machines, dryer, instrument for mineralisation, steriliser, incubator). For analysis there is a UV-VIS spectrophotometer with accessories, multimeters for measurement of pH, ORP (exido-reduction potential), temperature, and soil conductivity, and microscopes.

The bulk of the infrastructure improvement of the ILE SAS has been accomplished in 2013 – 2015. In the next period we expect less investment in improving the infrastructure, but significant expenses connected with regular maintenance of hardware (especially information-communication technologies) and upgrade of key licenses of GIS and remote sensing software. Other expected maintenance expenses are linked to operation of instruments and laboratory devices (calibration sets, spare parts, re-calibration of sensors etc.).
Based on the proposed objectives for the institute’s development, it is necessary to ensure sufficient funds both for improvement of infrastructure and for maintenance and upgrade of the existing infrastructure. The research projects remain our main source of funding.
We plan to improve the infrastructure, instrumentation and technical equipment of the Institute in these areas particularly:
– Improvement of the infrastructure in the research station Východná – reconstruction of both buildings, restoration of the laboratory for basic processing of field samples, improvement of the conference room and its equipment, and renovation of the on-site accomodation.
– Car fleet renovation (2 of the 4 currently used cars are old with expected operational life of a maximum of 2 more years),
– Modernisation of hardware and software equipment for all scientific employees, and provision of training for employees, both internally and externally
– Instrumentation improvement in the LTER sites run by the Institute
– Gradual renovation of the laboratories, expansion of the equipment base for analysis of environmental variables,
– Minor upgrades of the equipment for field measurements.