Insect Communities

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!


Pollination of a critically endangered Gentianella

Michael Bartoš and Petra Janečková recording visitors of Gentianella flowers.

Gentianella praecox ssp. bohemica is a critically endangered plant endemic to Central Europe, which has disappeared from many of its previous localities because of the short-tuft grasslands management changes. As a part of projects aiming its conservation, our colleagues from the Institute of Botany CAS and Daphne NGO are studying its pollination system. This week, Robert has joint Petra Janečková, Michael Bartoš and Záboj Hrázský for fieldwork in the Hořečky (btw., the Czech name of the plant) Natural Reserve for manipulative experiment revealing what is the real pollination efficiency of its most common visitors. Although the weather was not the best, we have collected quite good dataset. In the next week or two, the experiments will be performed in a few other localities of the plant. Hopefully, the results we be interested not only from the scientific point of view, but they will help to protect the beautiful plant as well.

News from the rains!

Last week, Pavel has come back from Cameroon after successfully finishing the moth sampling in the montane forest of Mt. Cameroon. He also brought some news from the field, especially about the rest of our pollination team staying there for three more weeks. As you can see in the picture below, they are all fine (just a bit wet) and sending regards to all of us! We are looking forward to them when they return mid-September!

Brdy fieldwork is finished

Since late spring, Lucka has been sampling several groups of terrestrial arthropods in the abandoned military training area in Brdy. For her master thesis, she focuses on arthropods inhabiting shooting areas with different levels of disturbances. Besides the majority of our group members, also Ondra Sedláček and Marek Vojtíšek helped us a lot with the project and we are grateful to them. Last week, the last sampling was finalized and the field part of the project is thus finished. As a sign of good results, during the last mothing in the Jordan we were visited by Jersey tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria), a Natura 2000 protected moth. Currently, all the material is being sorted and prepared for identification, we are looking forward to the results.

A study plot on the edge of a bomb crater in the Jordan shooting area. © S. Delabye


Mercy in Krakow

The last two weeks, Mercy has spent at the Zoological Musem of Jagellonian University in Krakow. Together with our long-term collaborators Szabolcs Sáfián and Tomasz Pyrcz, she has finished identification of all the fruit-feeding butterflies collected during our expeditions to Mt. Cameroon. Now, we thus have the complete dataset for analyses. Simultaneously, it was Mercy’s first visit of any larger entomological collection. Thanks to all the museum staff to help her with another step to become a lepidopterist!


Our past project got an excellent evaluation

One of a few fly ash deposits of the Prunéřov Power Plant. © R. Tropek

Recently, the Czech Science Foundation (main scientific grant agency in the country) released evaluation of projects finished in the last year. Robert’s grant on finely-grained post-industrial sites got an excellent rankings. During the five-years project, Robert and his collaborators, both external and from our group, revealed fly ash deposits as crucial refuges for critically endangered biodiversity of drift sand dunes. We have also published results of the first studies on restoration of these sites considering both biodiversity and environmental aspects of these controversial sites. Simultaneously, we were have analysed why some sand-specialised arthropods colonise secondary sites whilst some others do not. We have also studied biodiversity and restoration of other secondary sites with finely grained substrate, including sand and gravel pits, coal spoil heaps and drained pond bottoms. Altogether, twelve SCI papers and several book chapters were based on the grant results, several other manuscripts are under review or being prepared. Simultaneously, theses of few students were based on the results financed by the project. Most importantly, some our results have already influenced practical restoration of several post-industrial sites.

To Mt. Cameroon in rain season!(?)

Packing bags in front of our office.

This week, some members of our group and a few our collaborators left for another expedition to Mt. Cameroon. Firstly, Yannick, Štěpán Janeček and our treeclimber Pavel Kratochvíl left on Monday. Pavel Potocký, Zuzka Sejfová and Jiří Mlíkovský has joined them today early morning. They should spend the next six weeks by researching pollination networks inthe rainy season. Mt. Cameroon belongs to one of the rainiest places in the world and Štěpán is most probably the only person in the world who already led a successful scientific expedition to the mountain in rains. His results were really interesting, check here and here. Hopefully, our guys will bring some interesting data (or at least some data) again. Good luck in the rain!

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.