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.
Last week, we organised a meeting of our group in Křižánky in the Železné hory Mts. Besides general discussions on our projects, presentations of some nearly submitted theses, and progress of various topics we have optimised the sampling of flower visitors for our fieldwork in the coming July. We thank our guests Štěpán Janeček and Zuzka Sejfová for attending the meeting.
Last week, Filip Tichanek has successfully defended his thesis entitled Ecology of endangered damselfly Coenagrion ornatum in post-mining streams in relation to their restoration and has thus received a Mgr. diploma (the Czech alternative of M.Sc.). Except that the manuscript is submitted to a journal. The thesis is available on the web of the University of South Bohemia. Filip is thus the first successful student in our group since its recent establishment. Congratulations and good luck in the next doctoral studies of neurobiology!
From the material collected during our reasearch of lepidopteran communities of Mt. Cameroon, Roman Yakovlev and our close collaborator Szabolcs Sáfián have described a new species of carpenter moth (Cossidae). They decided to name it Geraldocossus durrelli after the amazing conservationist and naturalist Gerrald Durrell who wrote two books about his stays in Cameroon. Such a great idea! Durrell’s books (not only from Cameroon) have surely influenced many young biologists and thus contributed to research and conservation in many areas in the world.
This week we continue with sampling of water insects in North Bohemian spoil heaps where many highly threatened species (such as Cybister lateralimarginalis and Coenagrion ornatum) found their secondary refuges. Robert and Filip helped our close collaborator Vojtěch Kolář with setting minnow traps into a few dozen freshwater pools. Besides a survey of unknown biodiversity of several insect groups, the project also aims to evaluate different approaches to the post-mining freshwater habitats.
Since this year we are collaborating on a project studying changes of pollination networks under habitat fragmentation led by Dr. Michael Bartoš from the Institute of Botany in Třeboň. For the next three seasons we will spend a quite some time on wet meadows in the Zelezne hory mountains studying various parts of the pollination systems from traits of individual plant species to changes of communities of their visitors. The last week the field season has started and we have spent a few days by torturing the first flowers and spying the first pollinator.
PS: Are you a student interested in pollination biology and looking for diplomma thesis or Erasmus project? Do not hesitate to contact us!
Vincent is currently visiting the huge Lepidoptera section of the Bavarian State Collection of Zoology in Munich. He is working on identification of moths collected by an intensive bait trapping during our fieldwork in Mt. Cameroon. Because of our long-term collaboration with Dr. Axel Hausmann, a leader of the section, on processing of all Geometrid moths from our Cameroonian collections, Vincent is trying to help also with processing of this material.