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.
Filip Tichánek, a finishing master student in our group, was awarded by the “Twelve fo SER” stipend. He is among twelve selected students whose active participation at the 10th European Conference on Ecological Restoration will be covered by the Society for Ecological Restoration‘s grant. Filip will contribute by a talk summarising results of his bachelor and master theses, as well as some side projects.
As a part of our last fieldwork in Cameroon we surveyed a pollination system of Uvariopsis dioica (Annonaceae). One morning we realised all the filmed flowers had disappeared. The Brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus africanus) visited it and skilfully selected all open flowers and ate all its petals, leaving the reproductive organs intact(?). Enjoy a sped-up video of the picky guy! © Insect Community Ecology Group
When being in the field, we have received good news. Both University of South Bohemia and Charles University in Prague have decided to finance research of our PhD students. Vincent Maicher thanks the University of South Bohemia for an opportunity to study influence of elephants on structure of moth communities. Jan Mertens is grateful to the Charles University in Prague for funding the metabarcoding of pollen loads directly sampled from butterflies, moths and sunbirds.
Together with our colleagues and Cameroonian students we have spent five weeks in the forests of Mt. Cameroon. Besides finishing the sample of butterflies and moths in lower elevations, we have started with surveying of pollination networks in different altitudes. Pretty funny, pretty interesting…
Because of the high dry season we have been facing lack of water and have needed to carry it from Bakingili village pretty soon (the third wettest place in the world is quite dry in February). Fortunatelly, beer weighs equally to water 😉
Today, the second half of the group are joining Vincent and Stepan in Cameroon. For five weeks, we will sample moths and butterflies along the altitudinal gradient on Mount Cameroon, collect data on pollination networks and study flowering plants up in the trees, which is why Pavel is with us.
Together with Klara Rehounkova (University of South Bohemia), Robert Tropek is organising a special session at the next conference of Society for Ecological Restoration (http://www.ser2016.org). The session is entitled “Conservation importance of early successional stages in restoration of human-made sites”, so the presentations will aim at a multitaxonomical comparison of species dependent on early succession, bare substrate and sparse vegetation. We want to answer questions on the importance of such habitats at various postindustrial sites for particular groups of organisms and how can we effectively maintain them during and after restoration projects. Any interested speakers are welcome to submit their talks!