Insect Communities

Laura, a new intern in our group

Today, Laura Mlynárová has started her two-months Erasmus internship at our group. Laura is coming from the University of Prešov, Slovakia, where she defended her Bachelor thesis focused on the biology of specific species of bark beetles. Within our group, she will participate on the research of pollination networks in the fragmented landscape of Železné hory. She is the first Erasmus intern since the establishment of our group.

New publication: flower visitors of Uvariopsis dioica

Female (left) and smaller male (right, 2x) flower of Uvariopsis dioica © Štěpán Janeček

Part of our data collected during the early 2016 expedition to Mt. Cameroon has been published in the African Journal of Ecology. It concerns a case study on Uvariopsis dioica (Annonaceae), a smaller tree flowering at its base, where we filmed the plant’s visitors (sometimes large ones). Among the 1103 individual visitors, ants and cockroaches are the most common. We also found some pollen grains attached to cricket and cockroach legs, possibly indicating the presence of a primitive pollination system in the plant species. The publication can be found online here.

 

Full citation: Mertens J.E.J., Tropek R., Dzekashu F.F., Maicher V., Fokam E.B., Janeček Š. (in press) Communities of flower visitors of Uvariopsis dioica (Annonaceae) in lowland forests of Mt. Cameroon, with notes on its potential pollinatorsAfrican Journal of Ecology .

Our Cameroonian student in Prague

Mercy Murkwe in front of the Prague Castle. © P. Halamová

On Saturday, we have welcomed Mercy Murkwe, our Cameroonian doctoral student, in Prague. Since her Master studies, she has collaborated on our projects focusing mainly on communities of fruit feeding butterflies of Mt. Cameroon. Recently, she has fully organised one of our sampling expeditions into the Bimbia-Bonadikondo Community Forest. She has also crucially helped Vincent and Sylvain during their sampling of lepidopterans in forests non-disturbed by elephants (see the previous News). Now, Mercy will spend six months at the Department of Ecology, Charles University in Prague, processing part of the collected butterflies and helping us with some other projects. We wish her a successful stay in Europe!

 

Back from Mt. Cameroon: End of one project

Vincent, Sylvain and Pavel have returned from their fieldwork in Cameroon last Monday. Their expedition brought data on butterflies and moths from 80 bait traps exposed in total for 50 days, and from 30 full nights of manual collecting of moths attracted by light. After more than three years of intensive sampling at different elevations and seasons, we finally completed our sampling of lepidopterans along the Mt. Cameroon gradient. Simultaneously, our guys have started sampling both butterflies and moths in forest plots non-disturbed by forest elephants within Vincent’s grant project. Now, the sampled material is already waiting for its processing by us, as well as our numerous collaborators. Meanwhile, our field projects in Cameroon do not end, the next expedition for our pollination projects is planned to start in August.

Kobe and Pavel on their way to empty traps. © S. Delabye

Sampling in Brdy

The last week, Lucka has started to work on her thesis focused on influence of past disturbances in shooting plots in the abandoned military training area in the Brdy Mts. In this joint project with Ondřej Sedláček, we are focusing on biodiversity of several groups of arthropods along a gradient of disturbance intensity. Such knowledge will also be useful for conservation management of numerous abandoned military areas in Central Europe. During the first sampling session, with the help of Yannick, Marek Vojtíšek and Sofia Mazzoleni, we have sampled material using pitfall traps, yellow pan traps and portable light traps. The same methods will be applied during the whole season.

A sampling plot in the Jordán shooting plot, Brdy Mts. © R. Tropek

First fieldwork in Železné hory

Last weekend Rob and Yannick were in the Železné hory Mts. for the first this-year fieldwork in Czechia. Together with Michael Bartoš, Štěpán Janeček and Jana Jersáková, we continued the collection of data on characteristics of pollination networks in the fragmented landscape. During this weekend we  focused on pollen limitation of individual plant species flowering in wet meadows, we hand pollinated four Spring plant species (Anemone nemorosaCaltha palustris, Cardamine pratensis and Viola palustris). In the coming weeks we will count produced seeds to compare it with naturally pollinated plants, as well as add new species into the experiments.

Experimental plants in wet meadows of the Zelezne hory Mts. © Y. Klomberg, R. Tropek

Popular paper on our pollination research

Yannick, Vincent and Bára collecting data. ©S. Delabye

Our collaborator Michael Bartoš has written a popular paper on our joint research of pollination networks in the Zelezne hory Mts. Although it was published in a Czech journal Moderní včelař (“Modern Beekeeper”), any non-Czech speaker can still enjoy Sylvain’s pictures from the field. A full pdf can be downloaded here. Although the current weather resembles anything but Spring, we are intensively preparing for the new field season starting very soon.

Counting pollen tubes in Třeboň

Yannick behind a microscope looking at pollen tubes.

Recently, Yannick has spent a few days at the Botanical Institute of the Czech Academy of Science in Třeboň. There, together with Štěpán Janeček, he focused on pollen tubes of Hypoxis camerooniana, a common plant of montane grasslands of Mt. Cameroon. We selected this species as a model for our case study of the role of UV reflectance in pollination. The collected stigmas of specimens with manipulated UV patterns and control treatments were searched for germinating pollen grains to reveal whether they were effectively pollinated. Together with data on flower visitors, the pollen tubes will be analysed by Raissa, Štěpán’s Cameroonian PhD student.