Ornithologists of the Faculty of Science in Cameroon

A project implemented at the Department of Zoology.


A project implemented at the Department of Zoology.

 

Cameroon's Bamenda Highlands are the only continuous mountain range in West Africa and one of the world's biodiversity centres. Thanks to long-term isolation a whole range of endemic species of animals and plants have developed there. Birds include the turaco Tauraco bannermani, the wattle-eye Platysteira laticincta, and the apalis Apalis pulchra. However, the diversity of forest communities throughout the mountain range is constantly under the threat of felling. Due to the massive deforestation of most of the mountains the original habitats have been fragmented into small "islands" in inaccessible places where populations of rare animals, plants, and their pollinators survive. The study of coevolutionary processes can make a significant contribution to clarifying the life strategies of target species, but also to revealing the options for protecting one of the rarest ecosystems in Africa – mountain forests. Pollination systems in the tropics are now well known for their high number of  pollinator species, where careless intervention can cause the gradual extinction of the entire community. Within the project, the studied species of sunbirds (Nectariniidae), insects, and plants also include some endemic species, the ecology of which is still practically unknown.

    

Results so far show that the pollination relationship between endemics can be very close, as in the case of the balsam Impatiens sakeriana and the sunbird Cyanomitra oritis. The coexistence of both species is accompanied by a number of morphological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations. On the other hand, the system may be entered by a number of other pollinators more opportunistic in their selection of host plants. During the project, several new species of bird parasites and one small mammal of the genus Sylvisorex were described. In recent years, cooperation has been established with local scientific authorities and a research station has been established. Thanks to this, another possibility for Czech researchers and students to collaborate on research in tropical areas has opened up.

The project took place at the Department of Zoology (contact person Jan Riegert, honza at riegert.cz).