One of the important fields of studies in the Institute of Entomology is taxonomy and classification of insects. The collections of insects represent a necessary aid for this kind of research, since the specialists for individual groups can study and compare collection specimens. Large and unique material of (not only) insects was assembled during several last decades in the Institute of Entomology (e.g., world-wide collections of Ephemeroptera and Aphidoidea, Braconidae of Palaearctic Region, Aranae and Trichoptera of Central Europe and selected groups of Lepidoptera and Coleoptera). The collections were built by the individual employees according to their specialization from the foundation of the Institute. After these workers had left the active research, their collections usually remained at the Institute and were handed over to their successors. Thus, a large and unique material was assembled during several decades. The collections are not serving only to taxonomists, but can be also used by those interested in from other branches, for example for the comparison of hardly identifiable specimens.
In 2013, the collections were moved to new depositories, and a curator of the collections was designated. In the same year, the collection was incorporated to the Central Registry of Museum-type Collections under the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. Its identification number is AVE/013-10-16/408013. A year later, it became a member of The Global Registry of Biorepositories (GRBio) under the acronym IECA.
So called primary types (or type specimens) have a unique position in taxonomy. They represent specimens, which were used for the species description and constitute a reference for the attribution of any further individual to the particular species. These specimens are carefully stored, labeled and form the most valuable part of the collections. In our collection, we have type specimens of several hundreds species.
Hemiptera: Sternorrhyncha: Aphidoidea and Adelgoidea (aphids)
While the majority of the collections of insects are housed at the National Museum in Prague and at regional museums in various parts of the country, some selected groups are concentrated in the Institute of Entomology CAS. Among these is the National Collection of Aphids.
The depository of the collection of aphids includes specimens from the Czech and Slovak Republics, some other European countries, Asia, Mexico and Cuba. Main part of microscopic slides of aphid species belongs to superfamily Aphidoidea (Aphidina viviovipara) but slides of superfamily Adelgoidea (Aphidina ovipara) are represented as well. Although the bulk of the collection is kept as microscopic slides (necessary for aphid systematics research), part of specimens are stored in 85% alcohol. Most of the slides are Faure-Berlese’s medium mounts.
Material in the collection has come from several major sources. The first major efforts in a systematic research and slides mounting on the Aphidoidea and Adelgoidea were made by A. Pintera late fifties in the 20th century. A substantial part of the collection (especially tribes Aphidini and Macrosiphini) was established and organized from the material of J. Holman during the period 1960-2000. Valuable part of the collection (in particular the Lachnidae and the Adelgidae) were made by J. Havelka from the nineties of 20th century. The collection contained roughly 100 thousands prepared specimens.
Collecting of aphids in various parts of the world
Aphid collection includes many microscopic slides of aphids collected in various countries of the world. This material was collected mostly during business trips of IE CAS research workers abroad: Cuba – J. Holman (1965-1967); Romania – A. Pintera & J. Holman (1958, 1971, 1976 and 1977); Bulgaria – A. Pintera (1958, 1964, 1967); European part and Central Asia of the USSR – J. Holman & P. Starý; North Korea – J. Havelka (1985, 1987, 1988); South Korea – J. Havelka & J. Holman (1999, 2000, 2001); Mexico – J. Holman (1986-1987); Lithuania – J. Havelka (short-term visits from 2004).
Type material is the most valuable component part of each of biological collections. Our institutional collection of aphids includes type material of almost 100 species. Continuous addition to the collection and new research studies mean that these numbers change frequently.
The Ephemeroptera collection represents the most extensive collection of this insect order in the Czech Republic and one of the largest in Europe. It contains approximately 1 000 000 specimens. It started to be built in the 50ies by Vladimír Landa, the first director of the Institute of Entomology. Later it was extended mainly by the effort of Tomáš Soldán, Pavel Sroka and Roman Godunko. Most of the specimens are stored in denatured ethanol under room temperature. Recently we started to collect into the pure ethanol and keep the samples in -20°C in order to preserve DNA for molecular studies.
Monitoring samples from the Czech Republic
This part of the collection contains mostly common Central European species and is valuable mainly from the ecological point of view, since it allows tracking the long-term changes in the assemblages of freshwater insects. The collection contains a large material originating from the monitoring of freshwater insects in the Czech Republic from the 50ies to the present. This material comes from semiquantitative samples, taken at approximately 100 localities repeatedly in the 50ies, 70ies, 90ies and after 2000. During each of these periods, the samples were taken several times per year and at each occasion the parameters of the water body were reported as well (width, depth, shading, vegetation type and water chemistry). This effort resulted into the unique data, demonstrating the changes in the individual species occurrence in the running waters of the Czech Republic. Because the aquatic insects sensitively reacts to the changes of its habitat, we can reconstruct the extent of the environmental changes during the last 60 years based on this dataset.
The material from many countries across almost all continents is housed here. A large proportion is still not identified and probably contains also many species new for science. This material is interesting mainly from the taxonomic, faunistic and biogeographic perspectives. The most extensive samples come from: the Black Sea basin (Balkans, Turkey, Caucasus, Crimea); Mediterranean islands; Atlantic islands (Cape Verde Islands, Madeira); SE Asia (Vietnam, Japan); South and North America; Australia.
So called type specimens of the individual species are of crucial importance to zoologists. They represent specimens, which were used for the description of a given species and form a kind of reference for attributing any further specimen to this species. Our collection contains mainly type specimens of the species described by researchers from the Institute of Entomology. Type specimens are carefully marked and represent the most valuable part of the collections. Type specimens of approximately 100 mayfly species are deposited in the collection.
The collection of beetles represents nearly 25 000 specimens of the superfamily Scarabaeoidea. It was built by Aleš Bezděk, the current curator of the institutional insect collection. Nearly all specimens are dry-mounted. Only few specimens are kept in pure ethanol and deposited in a freezer in -20°C in order to preserve DNA for molecular studies.
Taxonomic collection of chafers of the tribe Diplotaxini from Oriental, Palaearctic and Afrotropical regions
This specialized collection comprises about 10 000 specimens of nearly 500 species belonging to the genera Apogonia, Dichecephala and Metapogonia. About 50% of these species are not described yet.
Faunistic collection of Scarabaeoidea of Central Europe
Additional exotic material
This part of collection comprises Scarabaeoidea specimens from Old World countries, including specimens collected during several Czech biological expeditions to Vietnam, Laos, Malawi, Sumatra and Socotra.
Although the beetle collection is not large, type material is rather numerous and comprises types of more than 120 species of Scarabaeoidea. There are mainly types of species described by A. Bezděk himself, as well as types received by exchange or as a gift from other contemporary specialists on Scarabaeoidea (T. Branco, D. Keith, H. Kobayashi, D. Král, and R. Sehnal).
The collection of spiders collected by Vlastimil Růžička is one of the largest collections of spiders in the Czech Republic. In total, 115 000 specimens belonging to 657 spider species are deposited in more than hundred glass jars with 80% ethanol. The material is catalogued in the database containing at about 16 000 records with a number of identification data. The material from the whole territory of the Czech Republic was collected from 1973 to present. Main part of the material was collected in protected areas, in four National Parks and a number of Protected Landscape Areas.