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Department of Zoology

The Department of Zoology is responsible for the Zoology and Entomology Master’s and Doctoral programmes. The Ph. D. programmes are designed to provide students with a thorough overview of biology, ecology and the evolution of animals, and with a good knowledge of modern zoological methodology.


Homepage: http://zoo.prf.jcu.cz/
Head of the Department: Dr. Roman Fuchs
E-mail: fuchs@prf.jcu.cz

Research and education activities

Animal phylogeny

Phylogenetic relationships are studied using molecular as well as morphological data within various groups of animals. Based on the results of phylogenetic analyzes a range of questions is addressed, such as the origin and role of sociality, evolution of behavior, body size, etc. 

Ecology of plant-insect interactions in tropical rainforests

The study of plant-insect food webs in tropical rainforests focuses on the ecological and evolutionary determinants of biodiversity and community structure. We have established a solid logistical base in Papua New Guinea, providing access to tropical ecosystems and have active study sites also in Panama, Cameroon, and Thailand. 

Natural history and evolution of tropical fishes

We study biodiversity, ecology, evolution and biogeography in South and Middle America using fish (focusing on cichlids) as our model group. Phylogenetic analyses form the backbone of our research. New species are routinely being discovered and described. The department's laboratory is fully equipped for the up-to-date phylogenomic methods based on NGS technologies, like ddRAD sequencing.

Cognitive ethology of birds

Passerine birds are tested for their ability to distinguish relevant optic patterns and situations coding information on food quality and availability or predation risk. The acoustic information channel is studied using original or modified playbacks. 

Behavioural ecology and reproductive strategy of birds

Using various field (radio-telemetry, bioacoustics, food analysis, focal observation) as well as laboratory (molecular, endocrinological, physiological) methods we address a wide range of questions from ecology and the reproductive biology of birds. Our research interest is focused on behavioural ecology, especially the influence of food availability on feeding tactics, qualitative and quantitative differential investment in male and female offspring in relation to maternal state, mate choice, and alternative reproductive strategies.

Biology and ecology of subterranean rodents

Rodents are sampled across a large part of Central and Eastern Africa in order to study their molecular taxonomy and phylogeny and to reveal the influences of historical geomorphological processes and climatic events on their diversity. Other studies are focused on the ecology, behavior, and physiology of African mole-rats and ecologically similar rodents.

Behavioral ecology of mammals

In terrestrial rodents – voles – the behavioral variation called animal personality is analyzed. Its modulation during postnatal development is studied under laboratory conditions as well as in free living animals. For verification of observed behavioral traits (bold-shy), correlations to physiological stress parameters are tested. Knowledge of personality is used in study of cognitive abilities in voles e.g. during navigation. 

Example of results

Publications:

ŘÍČAN O., PIÁLEK L., DRAGOVÁ K., NOVÁK J. (2016): Diversity and evolution of the Middle American cichlid fishes (Teleostei: Cichlidae) with revised classification. Vertebrate Zoology 66: 3-102.

PEOPLES H., DUDA P., MARLOWE F. (2016): Hunter-Gatherers and the Origins of Religion. Human Nature 27: 261-282. 

SYROVÁ M., NĚMEC M., VESELÝ P., LANDOVA E., FUCHS R. (2016): Facing a Clever Predator Demands Clever Responses - Red-Backed Shrikes (Lanius collurio) vs. Eurasian Magpies (Pica pica). PLoS One 11: nestránkováno. 

LI K., WANG H., CAI Z., WANG L., XU Q., LÖVY M., WANG Z., NEVO E. (2016): Sympatric speciation of spiny mice, Acomys, unfolded transcriptomically at Evolution Canyon, Israel. PNAS 113: 8254-8259.

COLWELL R., GOTELLI N., ASHTON L., BECK J., BREHM G., FAYLE TM., FIEDLER K., FORISTER M., KESSLER M., KITCHING R., KLIMEŠ P., KLUGE J., LONGINO J., MAUNSELL S., McCAIN C., MOSES J., NOBEN S., SAM K., SAM L., SHAPIRO A., WANG X., NOVOTNÝ V. (2016): Midpoint attractors and species richness: Modellng the interaction between environmental drivers and geometric constraints. Ecology Letters 19: 1009-1022.

ŘÍČÁNKOVÁ V., ROBOVSKÝ J., RIEGERT J., ZRZAVÝ J. (2015): Regional patterns of postglacial changes in the Palearctic mammalian diversity indicate retreat to Siberian steppes rather than extinction. Scientific Reports 5: nestránkováno. 

AWAD M., LAUGIER G., LOISEAU A., NEDVĚD O. (2015): Unbalanced polyandry in wild-caught ladybirds Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Applied Entomology and Zoology 50: 427-434. 

NĚMEC M. et al. (2015): Surface texture plays important role in predator recognition by Red-backed Shrikes in field experiment. Animal Cognition, 2015, vol. 18, iss. 1, pp. 259–268.

FORISTER M.L., NOVOTNY V., PANORSKA A.K., BAJE L., BASSET Y., BUTTERILL P.T., CIZEK L., COLEY P.D., DEM F., DINIZ I. R., DROZD P., FOX M., GLASSMIRE A., HAZEN R., HRCEK J., JAHNER J.P.,   KAMAN O., KOZUBOWSKI T.J., KURSAR T A., LEWIS O.T., LILL J., MARQUIS R.J., MILLER S.E., MORAIS H.C., MURAKAMI M., NICKEL H., PARDIKES N., RICKLEFS R.E., SINGER M.S., SMILANICH A.M., STIREMAN J.O., VILLAMARÍN-CORTEZ S., VODKA S., VOLF M., WAGNER D.L., WALLA T., WEIBLEN G.D. and DYER L.A. (2015). The global distribution of diet breadth in insect herbivores. PNAS 112: 442-447.

PAVELKOVÁ - ŘIČÁNKOVÁ V., ROBOVSKÝ J. and RIEGERT J. (2014): Ecological structure of Recent and Last Glacial mammalian faunas in Northern Eurasia: the case of Altai-Sayan refugium. PLoS ONE 9(1): e85056.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085056

RIEGERT J., ANTCZAK M., FAINOVÁ D. and BLAŽKOVÁ P. (2014): Group display in the socially monogamous Northern Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris reichenowi). Behavioural Processes 103: 138-144.

POHLOVÁ L., SCHEPSKY P., LEHMANN T., HOCHKIRCH A., MASOPUSTOVÁ R., ŠIMEK J., SCHOO W., VODIČKA R. and ROBOVSKÝ J. (2014): Defining management units for European captive aardvarks. Zoo Biology 33: 433-439. 

 

Ph.D. Theses:

KUBĚNOVÁ B. (2017): Infant handling in male Barbary macaques.

SEKERKA L. (2017): Taxonomy and ecology of Neotropical Cassidinae (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae).

DRAG L. (2016): Phylogeography and conservation genetics of endangered saproxylic beetles in Europe.

MATOS MARAVÍ P. F. (2016): Biogeography and evolution of Melanesian and South Pacific ants.

NOVOTNÝ D. (2016): Determinants affect moths communities on intensive farmland.

ŠEBEK P. (2016): The effect of different management strategies on the dynamics of saproxylic insect habitats.

ŠLANCAROVÁ J. (2016): Land Abandonment in the Mediterranean Effects on Butterfly Communities with Respect to Life History Traits.

VOLF M. (2016): Specificity of insect-plant associations and their role in the formation of plant defenses and speciation.

ZIMA J. (2016): Development of microsatellite markers in non-model animal species.