Insect Communities

Packing for Africa

Currently we are preparing three different expeditions to Africa. Jan, Yannick, Vincent and our collaborator Michael Bartoš are leaving tommorow, they will spend six weeks on the slopes of Mt. Cameroon. Robert will join an expedition of Prague ornithologists (D. Storch, D. Hořák, O. Sedláček, M. Ferenc and T. Albrecht) on Tuesday, they will be sampling communities of birds and moths along a productivity gradient from the Namib dessert to the Zambezi river valley. Eliška, Sylvain and a collaborating botanist Petra Janečková are leaving in less than two weeks going to the Bamenda Highlands to finish a few our pollination studies and to perform a study on moths in a fragmented landscape. Moreover, our close collaborator Štěpán Janeček is leaving on Sunday to join both Cameroonian teams for a week each. Yesterday, we were packing the whole day, altogether 18 our luggages will hopefully reach Africa with us. In conclusion, cross your finger for us and do not expect much replies in the next two months!


Restoration Ecology in Lille

Last week Robert visited ISA Lille, a French Graduate School in Agriculture and Bioengineering. The whole Monday he gave lectures to master students of the Sustainable Management of Pollution programme. He introduced the importance of various post-industrial sites for biodiversity of (mainly) insects and other arthropods, and by presenting numerous case studies, he demonstrated the main principles of their restoration respecting biodiversity protection. On Tuesday he accompanied students visiting two successful restoration projects of a sandpit and a park strongly polluted by heavy metals. In the afternoon he visited the study areas where Bertrand Pourrout and other ISA researchers are looking for an effective way of restoration of large polluted areas. The visit was short but pleasant, and hopefully it will lead to a longer term collaboration.


Progress in processing of Cameroonian moths

sylvain_staring_mothsLast week, Sylvain and Vincent visited the collaborating Zoological museum of Jagellonian University in Krakow, Poland. They have carried on sorting and identifying the moths collected at lower elevations of Mt. Cameroon during our expeditions. Simultaneously, they have visited Dr. Lukasz Przybylowicz at the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences who is processing Arctiins from our material. The new findings are more and more interesting as we are getting deeper into the local moth communities. During the visit, they have sorted more than 1,000 specimens (mainly Lasiocampidae and Notodontidae). As highly expected, they detected a few species never recorded in Cameroon. Moreover, they have identified several new species very probably unknown for science, they will be working on their description, together with other specialists.

Greenhouse experiments are over

Geum rivale in greenhouse.

Geum rivale in greenhouse. © E. Padyšáková

Fieldworks of the Zelezne hory pollination project (more info here) already finished several weeks ago. Until last week, however, greenhouse experiments were still running. For the whole season, our group members assisted with removal of study plants from the Zelezne hory Mts. to a greenhouse of the Institute of Botany in Trebon. There, the botanists (with the help of Eliska) performed various pollination experiments and measurements of numerous plant traits related to pollination and general reproduction (such as flower orientation, symmetry, colour, size and shape, inflorescence architecture, or number of produced seeds). By now, the experimental flowers have ceased blossoming and the plants are thus set outside the greenhouse to wait for the “torture” in the next season.


Seminar on post-industrial sites in Krakow

Slope of Roudny, a sandy heap after gold mining.

Slope of Roudny, a sandy heap after gold mining. © R. Tropek

In the past week Robert was invited to give a seminar on post-industrial sites at the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals, Polish Academy of Sciences, in Krakow. Rob has summarised the long-term research of our group, which proves that some industrial activities (such as mining or spoil heaping) are beneficial for many threatened species of animals and plants. During the seminar Rob also presented lessons learned from the intensive research on how various restoration tools affect the conservation potential of human-affected sites, together with some examples from practice.

Whoever is interested in reading more about restoration of post-industrial sites can have a look at an English book with our contributions or have a look at our recent publications on this topic listed here.

New publication on conservation potential of old solitary trees

Old solitary trees are important habitats for numerous arthropods. © S. Poláková

Old solitary trees used to be a common component of our landscape. Open-grown trees differ in architecture from trees grown in closed forests, as they are usually more patulous with a higher heterogeneity of micro-habitats inhabited by numerous organisms. A recent study of our colleagues Pavel Šebek and Lukáš Čížek, with a contribution from our group, revealed such trees as a key habitat for biodiversity of several groups of insect and spiders. They are inhabited by numerous threatened and vanishing species of saproxylic beetles and hymenopterans, but also their rare predators. Because of our landscapes’ management changes (shown by numerous other studies of Lukáš’ team) the old open-grown trees are disappearing or are getting lost in newly grown forest where majority of arthropod species specialised for solitary trees cannot survive. Therefore, it is necessary to protect the solitary trees, as well as to support growing of new ones.

Full citation: Sebek P., Vodka S., Bogusch P., Pech P., Tropek R., Weiss M., Zimova K., Cizek L. (2016) Open-grown trees as key habitats for arthropods in temperate woodlands: the diversity, composition, and conservation value of associated communities. Forest Ecology and Management 380: 172-181.

Gábina has defended her thesis!

Today, Gabriela Wofková has successfully defended Gabriela Wofkováher master thesis entitled “Diversity of traits of aculeatan hymonopterans in habitats with finely-grained substrate”. It is thus the second defended thesis of our group in the last few days. Gábina analysed what traits of individual “bees and wasps” species are responsible for their (in)ability to effectively colonise post-industrial sites. After recovering from celebrations she will start compiling a manuscript from her results. Congratulations!

Lucie has successfuly defended her thesis!

Lucie PalivcováYesterday morning, Lucie Palivcová has defended her Bachelor thesis entitled “Effectivity and utilisation of different methods of moths research” (it is written in Czech). Lucka has reviewed all the available methodological studies on sampling of moth communities. Despite quite strong differences among the studies, she has tried to compare the various sampling methods. It will be helpful with our future work. Congratulations and good luck with the final exams!

Czech TV broadcast on post-industrial sites restoration

Robert Tropek speaking on restoration of quarries. © Česká televize

In spring, our group has collaborated on shooting of Nedej se!, the environmentalistic broadcast of the Czech national television. On the last Sunday, there was a premiere of the broadcast. We intensively discuss the current practice of various post-industrial sites restoration with a special focus on contrasting technical reclamation and spontaneous succession. From the points of view of biodiversity conservation, and economic and aesthetic aspects, using of natural processes in the disturbed sites restoration is much more efficient. We prove it by various examples in the broadcast. Although the whole broadcast is in Czech only, anybody interested can find more details for example in our English popular book or in some of our scientific papers.