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ZOOLOGY - Popular Science








Popular Science: New methods of insect identification

Insects are essential both in terms of the functioning of the Earth's ecosystem and in terms of its impact on human health and society. However, the exact identification of a species is often hard and time consuming. A group of scientists including Dominik Vondráček from the Department of Zoology focused on the possibility of creating an automatic identification system using modern technologies.

Popular Science: One-night stand. That’s what ONLY men want?

If you ask which gender is more willing to change partners, to establish new relationships or engage in sex without love and commitment, almost everybody would answer men. However, is it absolutely true, or are there any differences based on sexual orientation, gender nonconformity or socio-cultural background? This is exactly what the Czech-Brazilian research team wanted to find out. Zuzana Štěrbová from the Department of Zoology of the Faculty of Science was one of the members of the team, which by chance happened to be composed mainly of women.

Popular Science: Feathers can tell the origin

Rapid changes to natural conditions also cause changes in the behavior of migratory birds. The study of their migration is very important because of their protection and management. Since migratory bird flyways reach many states, international cooperation is needed. Therefore, there is an international project that monitors the movement of the greylag goose (Anser anser), the largest of the waterfowl genus Anser. One of the members and the coordinator of the international project are Michal Podhrázský from Zoo Dvůr Králové and the Department of Zoology of the Faculty of Science, Charles University.

She always steps in the same river

Surely everybody noticed that some of his friends (or even he himself) have a certain “type” when it comes to a choice of a romantic partner. Some men prefer blonds, others think that freckles are cute. Some women are attracted to muscles, others like bearded men. How does this observation stand up, however, when we look at it through the eyes of science? And is there a difference between partners we have children with and our other long-term relationships? These are the questions asked by Zuzana Štěrbová, Petr Tureček and Karel Kleisner of the Human Ethology research group, Faculty of Science of Charles University.


Popular Science: Giant dragonflies and their way of life – reconstruction based on fossil findings

The maximum wingspan of dragonflies these days is about 19 cm, but in the Late Palaeozoic (approximately 300 Mya), the largest representatives of the Meganeuridae family had a wingspan of about 71 cm. They were thus the largest known insects ever and previously there were already some hypotheses, based on (unfortunately often incomplete) fossil findings and on comparisons with modern-day species, about how these flying colossuses lived. However, an international French-Czech-US team, together with Jakub Prokop and Martina Pecharová from the Department of Zoology of the Faculty of Science, showed that these speculations were not correct and proposed a more probable scenario.


Popular Science: How do we choose a partner? Do partner preferences remain stable throughout a relationship?

Choosing a partner is a key decision in a person’s life. What characteristics do we look for in a partner? Does our notion of an ideal partner change during a relationship? These are some of the questions asked by scientists Radka Kučerová, Zsófia Csajbók and Jan Havlíček from the Charles University. Their most recent paper examines ideal partner preferences and how they change during a relationship.


Are intestinal parasites of great apes and humans as closely related as their hosts are?

The clinical detection and identification of Entamoeba (intestinal parasites) is usually performed using light microscopy, which is often complicated and imprecise. An international team from Czech, Belgian and Swiss institutions, including Jakub Kreisinger from the Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, has developed a new and more effective approach consisting of advanced molecular methods. It is also the first comparison of the Entamoeba lineages in humans and wild great apes.


If I stridulate, you won’t eat me, will you?

Stridulation is a type of acoustic signaling, which is quite widespread in various arthropods. Nevertheless, people usually associate these sounds (created by rubbing certain body parts together) mainly with insects, probably mostly with crickets. Have you heard that spiders can also stridulate and that it is obviously quite common behavior for them, as it has been documented in more than 30 spider families so far? However, the function of stridulation is still not known in many species and that is why a team of scientists from Prague and Brno universities, including František Štáhlavský from the Department of Zoology from the Faculty of Science, studied spiders of the genus Palpimanus.


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