Insect Communities

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.

Our contributions at the SER 2016 conference

Filip Tichánek presenting at the SER Conference.

Filip Tichánek presenting at the SER Conference. © Lenka Šebelíková

A week ago, Filip and Robert have attended the 10th European Conference on Ecological Restoration in Freising. Filip, whose attendance was funded by a scholarship from the Society for Ecological Restoration, has presented a talk on differences between effects of technical reclamation on terrestrial and rather understudied freshwater biodiversity. Robert, together with Klára Řehounková, has led a special session “Conservation importance of early successional stages in restoration of human-made sites” where he presented results of meta-analyses of all the known records of butterflies and spiders in Czech post-industrial localities.

New publication on restoration of artificial streams for the enadangered damselfly

Coenagrion ornatum

The Ornate Bluet (Coenagrion ornatum). © Filip Tichánek

After showing the unxepectedly great potential of drainage ditches of the Radovesická spoil heap for conservation of communities of headwaters dragonflies and damselflies, Filip has focused in more detail on the endangered damselfly Coenagrion ornatum, the most threatened odonate species found. Just recently, the first paper using results of his master thesis has been published in the Journal of Insect Conservation. The capture-mark-recapture data showed that the population of C. ornatum includes 4,500 adults. The spoil heap was thus proven to be a valuable secondary refuge. The damselfly prefers slow-flowing and shallow streams with heterogeneous emergent vegetation and a rocky streambed. The creation of such streams should be considered in restoration plans of post-mining sites’ drainage systems.

Full citation: Tichanek F., Tropek R. (2016) The endangered damselfly Coenagrion ornatum in post-mining streams: population size, habitat requirements and restoration. Journal of Insect Conservation in press.

Yannick’s visit to Naturalis


The main collection storage room at the Naturalis Herbarium

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.

Two new butterflies from Mt. Cameroon

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.

Holotypes of Ceratrichia fako (Sáfián & Tropek, 2016) and Lepidochrysops liberti (Sáfián & Tropek, 2016).

Holotypes of Ceratrichia fako Sáfián & Tropek, 2016 and Lepidochrysops liberti Sáfián & Tropek, 2016. © Sz. Sáfián / Zootaxa

Filip got the Dean’s award!

Filip Tichánek receiving the award from the dean

Filip Tichánek receiving the award from the dean

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.