The research topics of our laboratory are biosystematics, community ecology and conservation implementations of palaeorefugial ecosystems. The study is based not only on classical taxonomical approach, but also on modern aspects of biosystematics, including DNA (barcoding) analysis. The typical examples of palaeorefugial relict habitats for our studies are peatbogs, minerotrophic wetlands (alder carrs) and ancient scree slopes. The model selected groups of investigated taxa are Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera, Diptera and Arachnida. Results of our studies have been implemented for projects of nature conservation - first of all administrations of national parks and other conservation areas. The best examle is our cooperation with the authorities of the Šumava National Park and the transfrontier Biosphere reserve.
Project is based on habitat island concept of studies of relict insects and their conservation. Quantitative samples (e.g., light and pitfall traps) are used to define long-term dynamics of populations and communities. Most of isolated tyrphobiontic populations are characterized by “geographical races” at the semi-endemic level. Based on taxonomic approach, relict species composition, habitat relationships to peatbogs and other wetlands including holistic studies of the whole isolated ecosystem are carried out. The community structure of peatbogs includes not only herbivorous insects (Lepidoptera), but populations of predators (Coleoptera: Carabidae) and parasitoid hymenopterans (Braconidae and Ichneumonidae).
[PI: Karel Spitzer]
The superfamily Scarabaeioidea is one of the more intensively studied groups of beetles with respect to their biology, taxonomy, and phylogeny. However, melolonthine tribe Diplotaxini (especially Old World members of this tribe with about 450 described species) represents a striking exception, being poorly known in terms of phylogeny, taxonomy and larval morphology. Old World members of Diplotaxini occur mainly in Afrotropical region and SE Asia, only limited number is known from Palaearctic region (Iran, China, and Japan). Many of species are known according to primary descriptions only and no comprehensive revision has been published yet. Because of external similarity of species and the absence of modern taxonomic contributions, examination of primary types is essential for further studies.
[PI: Aleš Bezděk]
The project comprehends a critical revision, cataloguing and digitisation of scarabaeoid beetle primary types housed in the Department of Entomology, National Museum in Prague. The aim is to make a database containing complex information about types, including precise data from the locality label, status of each type specimen, copy of original description and a digital photography of the type. The database will clarify data on the type material for curators of collections as well as for the professional and amateur researchers asking mainly for the loans of the type material. The photography could also replace the loan of material and decrease the risk of damage of old and unique type specimens during shipment. Partial results will also be published as scientific articles. In cooperation with J. Hájek (Department of Entomology, National Museum, Prague).
[PI: Aleš Bezděk]
Comprehensive biosystematical study is based on my experience and large collections of Braconidae and Icheumonidae. Most of the valuable material is based on rearing of hosts (Lepidoptera). Last but not least, a catalogue of Central European Braconidae is in preparation.
[PI: Aurel Lozan]
The long-term studies are based on our experience, collections and files of population monitoring of all moths with special respect to Tortricidae and macroheterocera (namely Noctuidae and Geometridae). All taxa of Lepidoptera of the project are safely identified.
[PI: Josef Jaroš]
There are two main natural habitats that comprise bare bedrock: solid cliffs and scree slopes. Among terrestrial habitats there are few gradients of environmental factors and accompanying biota that have been shown to be more distinct than those found on scree slopes, as well as on cliffs.
Scree accumulations represent island habitats in the temperate zone. Scree slopes with dynamic air regime are predisposed to form an undercooled core inside. The seepage of cold air from the permanently frozen (or undercooled) core causes the formation of a very narrow strip or spots of a relict arctic microclimate at the lower margin of the scree slope. Screes play an important role in the survival of isolated populations of species of boreal origin together with mountain summits, mountain forests, and peat bogs. Extensive complexes of sandstone rocks also enable the survival of isolated populations of species of boreal origin. On the other hand, sun-exposed rocks represent one of the warmest habitats of a landscape and can harbor isolated populations of thermophilous species in higher altitudes and latitudes.
[PI: Vlastimil Růžička]
A variety of subterranean habitats exists and have been colonized by spiders. We studied the distribution of spiders in soils, scree and caves, i.e. subterranean habitats at depths spanning from 10 cm to 100 m. Thirteen species exhibit morphological adaptations to life in subterranean habitats – reduced pigment and eyes and lengthening of appendages. The species exhibiting initial morphological changes tend to occupy only superficial subterranean habitats. The species exhibiting advanced eye reduction (e.g. Porrhomma egeria) tend to occupy deep caves. If we suppose that the evolution of initial troglomorphisms took place during Holocene, the origin of species exhibiting advanced troglomorphisms must have probably occurred earlier. We hypothesize that troglomorphic populations of spiders in Central Europe repeatedly migrated from caves to subsurface and surface habitats during glaciations. Troglomorphisms were introduced into populations living in these habitats. Therefore, in the present time, advanced troglomorphic characters occur in deep caves as well as in surface habitats far from karst regions.
[PI: Vlastimil Růžička]