Yannick is currently in Leiden, the Netherlands, to visit the collections at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center. There he is preparing himself for the coming trip to Cameroon. As one of the botanists from the team he is responsible for the identification of the flowering plants we will encounter on Mount Cameroon. Naturalis has a big botanical collection with over 4 million specimens. Only from Cameroon they already have approximately 63.000 botanical records, we will contribute to these collections with our own samples from Mount Cameroon soon.
Recently, our description of two new butterfly species has been published in the Zootaxa journal. Both newly described butterflies were discovered during our projects at the middle elevations of Mt. Cameroon, neither of them are known to occur anywhere else in the world. Ceratrichia fako is a skipper flying in narrow forest gullies, Lepidochrysops liberti is a lyceanid occurring in the mosaic-like habitats of submontane forests. The paper is open-access, anybody can thus download it here.
Sáfián Sz., Tropek R. (2016) Two new butterfly species (Lepidoptera: Rhopalocera) from Mount Cameroon, Gulf of Guinea Highlands, Cameroon. Zootaxa 4150: 123-132.
Together with the Master of Sciences (Mgr. in Czech) degree, Filip was also awarded with the Dean’s award for his outstanding master thesis. Congratulations! Currently, the first manuscript from his thesis focused on use and restoration of secondary habitats of the endangered damselfly Coenagrion ornatum is waiting for the journals’ decision after the revisions. The second one, dealing with spatial ecology of the same species, is being finished and will hopefully be submitted in a few weeks.
This whole week, Jan is working in collections of the Zoological Museum, Jagellonian University in Krakow. He is processing numerous specimens of hawkmoths, skippers and papilionids which we have collected on the slopes of Mt. Cameroon and which our close collaborator Dr. Tomasz Pyrcz and his team setting and preparing for us.
Besides insects, some members of our group are collaborating on the project focused on relationships between flowers and their bird pollinators supervised by our close collaborator Dr. Štěpán Janeček. Already in 2011, we have been collaborating on a study revealing that sunbirds are able to hover during nectaring similarly to hummingbirds. In the recently published study, Eliška and Štěpán focus on circumstances under which Cameroon sunbirds (Cyanomitra oritis) hover during visits of endemic plant Impatiens sakeriana.
Padyšáková E., Janeček Š. (in press) Sunbird hovering behavior is determined by both the forager and resource plant. Biotropica.
In Mount Cameroon, bait trapping is one of the main methodological approaches. As we are sometimes exposing 180 traps baited in the same time we consider our sampling as the most intensive ever. At the moment, we are finishing the complete dataset from the lower elevations of the mountain. Vincent with the help of Sylvain and Pavel are now dissecting the last individuals of the captured moths (altogether more than 5,700 specimens!). Our close collaborator, Szabolcs Safian, has recently finished identification of the last specimens of fruit-feeding butterflies in the collections of the Zoological museum of the Krakow University (altogether more than 12,000 specimens!). We are looking forward to start with the first analyses of the datasets!
Cameroonian biodiversity is incredibly rich but still quite unknown. Even basic distribution data are often missing and any faunistic surveys can help towards our understanding of Cameroonian nature. Recently, the most ineresting of our records of moth species have been published. In the lower elevations of Mt. Cameroon, we have found 19 species never recorded in the country. Simultaneously, it is the first, although still smaller, output of our Mt. Cameroon project.
In the last two weeks our findings that recreational activities in sandpits are beneficial for their biodiversity was reported in various Czech media. Our results were popularised by the national TV (thanks to Dr. David Boukal for kind and unexpected help!), to radios and several news servers. Selected medial reports (also in English) can be found here.
A large part of our research team has spent more than two weeks in the Zelezne hory Mts. collaborating on the project led by Dr. Michael Bartoš and Dr. Štěpán Janeček. In collaboration of several research institutions the project focuses on characteristics of pollination networks under landscape fragmentation. We have thus been studying plant-pollinator interactions in wet meadows under various degrees of isolation, focusing on changes in both plant and insect diversity, changes in the interactions, as well as traits on both species and community level. We have brought quite large datasets and rich materials for processing and analysis.
Sandpits are well known strongholds of numerous vanishing species specialised for open sands. Many of such sandy species are, however, endangered by successional overgrowing of abandoned mining places as we have already shown. A just published study, with a contribution of our group, shows that non-intensive disturbances related to recreational activities such as swimming, are beneficial for the sandpits biodiversity. Resting people unintentionally disturb overgrown plots where endangered species of insects and plants get a chance to develop.