Insect Communities

Back from Cameroon

Few days ago, Štěpán, Jan, Hernani and Karolína came back from the field expedition on Mount Cameroon. Although all the difficulties with heavy rains, as well as the difficult political situation in the regions, they have succeeded in the data collection bringing over 300 new recordings of flower visitors. Altogether, after all expeditions we are almost reaching 3.5 years of video recordings. Fortunately, most of it is already processed and we will do our best to have the final dataset by the end of 2018. We are really looking forward to see what brave pollinators can visit flowers in the extreme rain season.

Most of the research team just after coming back from six weeks spent in the forest.

Excursion for Lille students

On Wednesday, Robert and our former successful student Filip Tichánek led an excursion for students from the Sustainable Management of Pollution Programme, ISA Lille, France. We took them to the fly ash deposits of Prunéřov and Tušimice power plants to present how these (post)industrial localities look like and how they can be restored. Subsequently, we walked also though the Radovesicka spoil heap, one of the largest heap of spoil after brown coal mining in Central Europe where we have presented restoration of habitats on much larger scales. Besides the potential of these sites restoration for conservation of biodiversity, we have discussed also socio-economical aspects of the restoration practice. In November, Rob will continue in this topic during his lectures for the students in Lille.

Lucka has defended her MSc thesis

On Tuesday, Lucka Palivcová has successfully defended her MSc. thesis entitled “Influence of military disturbances on succession of arthropod communities in the Brdy Mts.”  With the help of several other members of our group, she sampled a large material on seven groups of terrestrial arthropods occuring in plots with different intensity of previous disturbances by fires, grenades and other military-caused disturbances. Her results will be surely useful in conservation of biodiversity of abandoned military training areas. A day earlier, she passed also her final exam and we thus congrutulate her to become a Master of Science, the third one after our group establishment!

Some numbers from our Mount Cameroonian butterfly and moth sampling

Vincent is now gradually finalizing his first “big manuscript” analyzing biodiversity of butterflies and moths along the altitudinal gradient of Mount Cameroon. During this process, he has also counted and quantified some values evidencing the huge effort we have invested into the project. Here are some of them: Altogether, fruit-feeding Lepidoptera were sampled during 16,800 trap/days, whilst night active moths were collected during 126 full nights, i.e. 1,512 hours of active collecting of moths attracted by light. For the traps baiting, we have used over 4 tons of bananas. The generators (altogether, we have used 7 generators, from which 4 have already malfunctioned) running the lights consumed over 1,000 liters of petrol. This effort has brought 42,816 specimens identified to 1,112 species; these numbers will substantially grow once the sampled geometrids will be processed as well. The question how much rice and Lion d’Or whiskey have been consumed will most probably remain unanswered.

“Our” part of the Lepidoptera collection in Krakow which is already completely full of our material from Mount Cameroon. © S. Delabye

Mount Cameroonian rains

Part of our research group is currently sampling data on pollination networks on Mount Cameroon, the last piece of the puzzle covers rainy season in the foothills. Despite all the rain (just reminding that foothills of Mount Cameroon rank among the wettest places in the world), the data sampling has been successful so far and it really seems we will have a really unique opportunity to realize how the plants flowering under such extreme conditions are pollinated. Here is a picture to give you an impression on the field conditions (Jan does not stand on a stream bank, it is the only tourist trail on this mountain slope):

Eliška awarded by Peter Ashton Prize!

Eliška Padyšáková from our group has been honored by the prestigious Peter Ashton Prize, the award of Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation to the best article written by a student published in the scientific journal Biotropica. Eliška was awarded for the research article “Sunbird hovering behavior is determined by both the forager and resource plant” originated from her Ph.D. thesis under supervision of Štěpán Janeček. They evidenced at least some sunbirds resemble hummingbirds on some behavioral adaptations of highly specialised hovering during nectar feeding. The award announcement, together with Eliška’s long commentary, is available here. Congratulations to Eliška!

Our field research in Czech radio

For the recent series “Czech researchers in summer” of the Czech public radio focused on science, politics and culture (Cesky rozhlas Plus), Ondrej Novak has recorded two shorter reports from our field projects. Firstly, he shortly joined our last sampling campaign in Czech fly ash lagoons where we focus on the structure of freshwater communities. At a fly ash deposit of the Prunerov power plant, a short report of Rob and Vojtech Kolar was made when they emptied light traps and minnow traps. Shortly after, Ondrej Novak made a second report on collection of material for Paja’s diploma thesis focused on biodiversity of moths in burnt forests in the sandstone landscape of Kokořínsko. Sadly, Pája got sick and Rob thus had to take her place. Both episodes of the Magazín Leonardo can be downloaded here (ash lagoons, from ca 5:50) and here (burnt forests, from ca 5:10), both reports are in Czech.

Sylvain’s stay in Krakow

In July, Sylvain spent three weeks at the Zoological Museum of Jagiellonian University in Krakow. Thanks to all work of the museum staff with our material processing, he has finished sorting and identification of all Lymantriin specimens, one of our focal groups collected on Mt. Cameroon. Altogether, he has sorted over 4,400 specimens to ca. 200 morpho-species, based on both wing features and dissections of genitalia of several hundreds specimens. This hyperabundant group completes our huge dataset of Lepidoptera collected along the altitudinal gradient on Mt. Cameroon, they are currently under statistical analyses by Vincent.

Three tussock moths of Dasychira genus, most probably three different species. ©S. Delabye

Description of 9 new species of many-plumed moths

Our report on the newly discovered hotspot of biodiversity of many-plumed moths (Alucitidae) in the Mount Cameroon area has been published in the Zookeys journal just yesterday. Whilst from any other place in the tropical Africa, maximally few species (typically just one or two) of this group are known, we have reported already 15 species of many-plumed moths from our first two expeditions to Mount Cameroon (2014 and 2015). Nine of them were described as new for science in the paper: Alucita escobari, A. fokami, A janeceki and A. besongi were named after our close collaborators and friends; A. lidiyaA. ludmila, A. mischenini and A. olga were dedicated to colleagues and relatives of our Russian co-authors, and A. longipenis was named according to his long male genitalia. Four more species had never been recorded from Cameroon before. Such findings evidence how Mount Cameroon is crucial and unknown hotspot of biodiversity of global importance and how it is important to protect the local nature. In the meantime, our Russian colleagues are working on many-plumed moths from our later expeditions, many more interesting discoveries can be already promised.

Adult specimens of newly described Alucita escobari (left) and Alucita janeceki (right).

Full reference: Ustjuzhanin P., Kovtunovich V., Sáfián Sz., Maicher V., Tropek R. (2018)A newly discovered biodiversity hotspot of many-plumed moths (Lepidoptera, Alucitidae) in the Mount Cameroon area: first report on species diversity, with description of nine new speciesZookeys 777: 119-139.

Sampling of communities in post-industrial waters

Box-trapping in the Dříteč fly ash sedimentation lagoon. © A. Landeira-Dabarca

In mid-July, Eliska, Pavel and Robert, spent almost two weeks by sampling freshwater communities in fly ash deposits and various post-mining sites across Bohemia, together with several members of David Boukal’s groups. Altogether, 20 localities were successfully sampled by numerous methodological approches to describe their communities as well as possible. Sorting, identification and analyses of all these samples seem to be a big challenge for the next months. The next sampling campaign will be in mid-September, we will do our best to process at least most of the already collected samples till that time.