Insect Communities

Critically endangered butterfly at a fly ash deposit

Cover page with the Grayling picture by Marek Vojtíšek.

Our detailed study of the Grayling (Hipparchia semele), a critically endangered butterfly with a strong recent decline in Czechia, has just been published in Polish Journal of Ecology. A few years ago, Rob discovered its population at a fly ash deposit of the Tušimice Power Plant, western Czech Republic. During the consequent study, we have realised it consists of almost 900 specimens and most probably serves as the source population for the whole region. Simultaneously, we performed a detailed survey of the species’ habitat use, being the first study of Grayling at post-industrial sites. Our results have already been applied during the deposit reclamation and we hope it will contribute to its persistence in our country.


Full citation: Tropek R., Cizek O., Kadlec T., Klecka J. (2017) Habitat use of Hipparchia semele (Lepidoptera) in its artificial stronghold: Necessity of the resource-based habitat view in restoration of disturbed sitesPolish Journal of Ecology 65: 385-399.

Another fieldtrip to Cameroon

Francis and Sylvain in the Bimbia-Bonadikombo forest.

Vincent and Sylvain are currently in Cameroon for another shorter trip. They are mainly filling the last small gap in our dataset of lepidopteran biodiversity on Mount Cameroon. Currently, they are spending a bit more than a week in the Bimbia-Bonadikombo Community Forest close to Limbe where they are finishing sampling of our moth protocol. After this, they will also finish sampling of both butterflies and moths in forests non-disturbed by elephants on the Mt. Cameroon main massif. Good luck and a lot of fun!

Flower visitors of Impatiens burtonii

We have released a video presenting the recent study on the role of long nectar spurs in pollination of Impatiens burtonii (Vlašánková et al. 2017, New Phytologist). You can directly see how the individual common visitors reach the flower spur and how efficient they are in accessing its nectar resources. The video, recorded by Štěpán Janeček and finalised by Jan Mertens, is now available on our youtube account or directly below this text.

Afrotropical Lepidoptera meeting in Krakow

The team in front of our Cameroonian collection in the museum © T. Pyrcz

Last weekend, Robert, Vincent, Sylvain, Jan and Mercy attended the Afrotropical Lepidoptera Network meeting organised by Lukasz Przybylowicz at the Institute of Systematics and Evolution of Animals in Krakow, Poland. Together, we presented our work on butterfly and moth diversity along the Mt. Cameroon altitudinal gradient, including the latest results of the effect of seasonality and forest structure, as well as the functional diversity and the pollination network studies. The meeting included also a visit to the Zoological Museum of the Jagiellonian University where all our samples are stored, which gave us a perfect chance to start new collaborations with other specialists.

Czech Society for Ecology conference

Mercy next to her poster. © Y. Klomberg

Our group members have participated on organising of the 6th conference of the Czech Society for Ecology; Robert as the main organiser and Jan as the book of abstracts’ main editor. Several other group members presented our research in the form of five scientific posters and an oral presentation. Jan introduced, in a talk, our pollination network research in the highest elevations of Mt. Cameroon, while Yannick, Mercy, Vincent, Sylvain and Eliška contributed with posters related to our other research in Cameroon. Simultaneously, during the coffee breaks and social evenings, we got some useful feedback (as well as many less useless chats on other topics) which will help us in the future work. We are looking forward to the next meeting in two years.

Lecture for speleologists

Robert has been invited to the National Meeting of Speleologists 2017 (Setkání jeskyňářů 2017) to have a talk about biodiversity of post-mining sites. Although none of our research goes underground, many speleologists do also manage quarries in which caves were discovered. Rob’s saturday lecture was thus focused mainly on management of sites created by mining to support diversity of endangered species, with the special interest in cheap and efficient unintentional management by recreational activities.

Back from rainy Cameroon

Our expedition for the rainy season on Mt. Cameroon has ended and our team has returned to Czechia on Friday. The majority of the team spent three weeks in the Mann’s Spring area (±2200 m) and two weeks close to the Crater Lake (±1450 m) to record flower visitors of all flowering species including epiphytic plants like orchids and begonias. Especially at the lower elevation a vast amount of flowering orchids were found and recorded. Over 260 whole-day recordings were made during this expedition. Now back in Czechia it will be a challenge for our team to watch these recordings and record the visitors.

A rainy day in the Mann’s Spring. © Y. Klomberg

Another part of our team stayed in Mann’s Spring during the whole expedition to investigate the hovering behaviour of sunbirds on Impatiens sakeriana. Initially they had some troubles collecting the data needed, but in the end managed to get some interesting results.

Symposium on ecological networks in Uppsala

From Monday till Wednesday, Jan spent three days at the 3rd Symposium on Ecological Networks in Uppsala, Sweden. He presented our research on pollination networks along the altitudinal gradient of Mt. Cameroon and managed to meet and discuss with many colleagues and experts working on ecological networks. Being his first international conference, the meeting was surely an interesting experience for Jan.

Pája has defended her master thesis


We have another successful thesis defence in our group! Today, Pavla Halamová has defended her Bachelor thesis entitled “Changes of biodiversity and composition of insect communities during restoration of tropical environments”. Pája has reviewed the current knowledge on impact of some human-caused disturbances to terrestrial insects communities and their changes during the ecosystem restoration. Although Pája still has to pass her Bachelor exam next week, we believe she will be successful and will start working on her master thesis in our group very soon. Congratulations and good luck!

Honza has defended his master thesis

Today, Jan Mengr has defended his master thesis entitled “Accumulation of heavy metals in tissues of terrestrial arthropods at fly ash deposits”. Honza focused on the controversion of fly ash deposits as a crucial biodiversity refuge or an ecological trap. Although it was a pilot project, it brought interesting results which will hopefully be published soon. Congratulations!