The project will contribute to the elementary question of ecology, biogeography and evolution: Are niches of tropical species narrower than species in higher latitudes? Within the large project (Junior STAR project for R. Tropek), the Ph.D. project will perform a cross-continental study of latitudinal patterns of specialisation in plant-pollinator interactions. It will combine modern Next Generation Sequencing metabarcoding of pollen loads from wild bees, the most important pollinators in terrestrial ecosystems, with a standardised observational sampling of interactions at a whole-community level. Our group has already established seven study sites from temperate and subtropical South Africa, through the Afrotropics, up to Mediterranean, temperate and subarctic European ecosystems. From each study site and two study seasona, the student will metabarcode DNA from pollen loads of bees, and compare them with the reference libraries established during the project. The results will be combined with the other parts of the project, mainly an intensive video-recording of plant-pollinator interactions and detailed information on individual plant pollination systems and reproduction strategies, all performed by the other members of our study group. Altogether, the project will not only describe the latitudinal patterns in plant-pollinator interactions, but also crucially contribute to our understanding to the responsible mechanisms.

More information on the project and the research group can be found here:

Five relevant publications of the research group:

Klomberg Y., Tropek R., Mertens J.E.J., Kobe I.N., Hodeček J., Raška J., Fominka N.T., Souto-Vilarós D., Janečková P., Janeček Š. (accepted) Spatiotemporal variation in the role of floral traits in shaping tropical plant-pollinator interactions. Ecology Letters.


Chmel K., Ewome F.L., Gómez G.U., Klomberg Y., Mertens J.E.J., Tropek R., Janeček Š. (2021) Bird pollination syndrome is the plant’s adaptation to ornithophily, but nectarivorous birds are not so selective. Oikos 130: 1411-1424.


Mertens J.E.J., Brisson L., Janeček Š., Klomberg Y., Maicher V., Sáfián Sz., Delabye S., Potocký P., Kobe I.N., Pyrcz T., Tropek R. (2021) Elevational and seasonal patterns of butterflies and hawkmoths in plant-pollinator networks in tropical rainforests of Mount Cameroon. Scientific Reports 11: 9710.


Maicher V., Sáfián Sz., Murkwe M., Delabye S., Przybyłowicz Ł., Potocký P., Kobe I.N., Janeček Š., Mertens J.E.J., Fokam E.B., Pyrcz T., Doležal J., Altman J., Hořák D., Fiedler K., Tropek R. (2020) Seasonal shifts of biodiversity patterns and species’ elevation ranges of butterflies and moths along a complete rainforest elevational gradient on Mount Cameroon. Journal of Biogeography 47: 342-354.


Mottl O., Fibich P., Klimes P., Volf M., Tropek R. (…) Novotny V. (2020) Spatial covariance of herbivorous and predatory guilds of forest canopy arthropods along a latitudinal gradient. Ecology Letters 23: 1499-1510.

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