Insect Communities

Main fieldwork in Zelezne hory

Pavel and Mercy collecting flower visitors. © P. Janečková

A large part of our group (including our two visitors Mercy and Laura) spent the last three weeks in the Zelezne hory Mts. Since last year we have been working on the project led by our colleagues from the Institute of Botany focusing on pollination networks in a fragmented landscape. Similarly to last year, during the main fieldwork we have been collecting visitors of flowers in several wet meadows to reconstruct networks of plant-pollinator relationships. Now the collected insects are being prepared for identification in order to have the data as soon as possible.

Study on importance of flower spurs

View into a flower of Impatiens burtoni. © Š. Janeček

A new study on a pollination system of Impatiens burtonii with Eliška’s contribution has just been published by the New Phytologist journal. Its authors, led by Štěpán Janeček, focused on morphology of the flower spur in relation to morphology and behaviour of its insect visitors. They decided to verify the old presumptions that only specialised long-proboscid pollinators are able to pollinate long-spurred flowers. In the studied Cameroonian jewelweed they revealed that the three commonest visitors, with proboscises of various lengths, are able to pollinate the flowers. Their abundances varied as the amount of nectar changes during the day – even short-proboscid visitors could reach the nectar if it accumulated sufficiently. In the morning, the almost full spurs were reached by short-proboscid hoverflies. Medium-proboscid bees were most active during mid-days. Finally, all these were replaced by highly specialised long-proboscid hoverflies during afternoons when the spurs are almost empty. Contrary to the expectations, bees are the most efficient pollinators, depositing most pollen grains during each visit. The authors thus hypothesised that the long spurs may not necessarily be the co-evolutionary adaptations for the highly specialised long-proboscid pollinators. They can rather efficiently partition resources among more diverse pollinators with different morphology. Check the full article for its nice pictures!

Full citation: Vlašánková A., Padyšáková E., Bartoš M., Mengual X., Janečková P., Janeček Š. (2017) The nectar spur is not only a simple specialization for long-proboscid pollinatorsNew Phytologist.

New grant on pollination research

A part of our group in a café after a full day of pollination research.

Our pollination research has been supported by a PRIMUS grant – a support from the Charles University for young researchers. For the next three years, we will thus be working on a project entitled “Crucial drivers for pollination networks organisation: Effects of altitude, latitude and habitat fragmentation” with Robert as PI. We have planned to supplement our current projects reconstructing pollination networks along various gradients of environmental conditions by additional data in both Czechia and Cameroon. It will allow for much better generalisation of our results and answer more general questions. The good news is even better as they caught us during our fieldwork in the Zelezne hory Mts. In the next few months, we will open few calls for new students working on the project – from undergrads, through PhD students to a postdoc. If you are interested, contact Robert or keep an eye on this page.

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