Insect Communities

New invasive crayfish for Czechia

During our long-term research of freshwater communities of lignite spoil heaps in Nortwestern Bohemia, we have also found several adult females of marbled crayfish (Procambarus fallax f. virginalis) in an artificial pool at the Radovesická spoil heap. Simultaneously, our colleagues led by Jiří Patoka have found another population inhabiting a public park in downtown Prague. Just recently, both our finds have been published by the Biologia journal. The marbled crayfish is an invasive species from Northern America with a strong impact on local communities of native crayfish, as well as the general freshwater biota. Unfortunately, it is a very common aquarium pet, the hobbyists are often responsible for its introduction to new localities. We hope that our new records will help to increase awareness amongst aquarists regarding the danger of spreading of unwanted non-native species. Simultaneously, we will try to initiate its eradication from both localities to avoid spreading to the common landscape.

Locality and picture of the marbled crayfish found in the Radovesická spoil heap. © V. Kolář (and Biologia).

Full citation: Patoka J., Buřič M., Kolář V., Bláha M., Petrtýl M., Franta P., Tropek R., Kalous L., Petrusek A., Kouba A. (2016) Predictions of marbled crayfish establishment in conurbations fulfilled: evidences from the Czech Republic. Biologia 71: 1380-1385.

New publication on efficient habitat restoration for newts

Northern crested newt prefers non-reclaimed post-mining pools. © V. Kolář

As a by-product of our intensive research of freshwater invertebrates at lignite spoil heaps, we have also sampled enough newts to make an analysis of their needs during restoration possible. Just recently, results of this side project have been published in Ecological Engineering. As expected, both newt species colonising secondary habitats at the northern Bohemian spoil heaps avoid reclaimed artificial pools. Similarly to our numerous studies of terrestrial biodiversity, spontaneous processes, rather than costly technical reclamation, seem to be more efficient in habitat restoration. On the other hand, our previous studies of dragonflies have revealed completely different patterns. At the moment, Vojta Kolář and Filip are analysing the large dataset of water insects sampled during the past two years. We are looking forward to the results.

Full citation: Kolář V., Tichanek F., Tropek R. (2017) Effect of different restoration approaches on two species of newts (Amphibia: Caudata) in Central European lignite spoil heaps. Ecological Engineering 99, 310–315.

New publication on Afrotropical plant distribution

In the past year Yannick has contributed to the creation of RAINBIO during his work for the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands. The RAINBIO is a comprehensive mega-database of georeferenced records for vascular plants in continental tropical Africa. Recently a data paper was published making the database accessible to everyone. As one can see below our research area Mt. Cameroon is well represented in the database, therefore it will be useful also for our work. In the near future the creators of this database (including Yannick) will publish another paper analysing the floristic diversity of tropical Africa using the RAINBIO data.

Density of records (left) and coverage (right) of the RAINBIO database (Dauby et al. 2016). © Phytokeys.

Full citation: Dauby et al. (including Y. Klomberg) (2016) RAINBIO: a mega-database of tropical African vascular plants distributions. Phytokeys 74: 1-18.

(Partly) back from Africa

Michael and Yannick setting a camera on Impatiens mannii’s flowers.

The majority of us are back from Africa. Yannick, Jan, Vincent and Michael Bartoš have returned, mostly unscathed, from their expedition to Mt. Cameroon on Friday. They continued with our research on pollination systems, as well as lepidopteran diversity in the higher elevations of Mt. Cameroon. Simultaneously, Robert has come back from southern Africa yesterday, where he has been sampling moths along a gradient of environmental productivity. In a bit more than a week, Eliška, Sylvain and Petra Janečková will also return from the Bamenda Highlands in Cameroon. They are still collecting data on both pollination systems and moths. Now, we have approximately a month for recovering and preparing of the next Cameroonian expedition in late January 2017.

New study on spatial dynamics and monitoring of Coenagrion ornatum

Označený jedinec šidélka ozdobného.

Marked specimen of Coenagrion ornatum. © F. Tichánek

In the second publication based on results of Filip Tichanek’s master thesis, we focus on spatial ecology of threatened damselfly Coenagrion ornatum in the drainage ditches of the Radovesická spoil heap. By re-capturing of previously marked individuals, we showed the extreme sedentarity of this species – in average it disperses only slightly more than 10 m during its entire life. This is a crucial knowledge for planning of any management possibly influencing its habitats. Simultaneously, we proved that whilst females stay in habitats of larval development, males often occur also in places insuitable for the species’ breeding. This has to be considered in monitoring of this Natura 2000 species (and possibly also other related damselflies), because not distinguishing of adults’ sex can misidentify its suitable and unsuitable habitats. It can have fatal influence on its local populations.

Full citation: Tichanek F., Tropek R. (2016) Sex-specific spatial patterns in the threatened damselfly Coenagrion ornatum: implications for the species’ conservation and monitoring. Journal of Insect Conservation.

Packing for Africa

Currently we are preparing three different expeditions to Africa. Jan, Yannick, Vincent and our collaborator Michael Bartoš are leaving tomorrow, they will spend six weeks on the slopes of Mt. Cameroon. Robert will join an expedition with ornithologists from Prague (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 desert 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 of 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 fingers for us and do not expect many 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.