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Popular Science

Popular Science: What is the fate of proglacial lakes?
Proglacial lakes currently represent one of the major environmental threats. Global warming and the increased rate of mountain glaciers melting could lead to the lake filling up and to a subsequent outburst, which is often accompanied by catastrophic consequences. The retreat of mountain glaciers has also raised concerns about water sources. This important topic is of concern to Kristýna Falátková, Miroslav Šobr and Bohumír Janský from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, together with Martin Slavík and Jiří Brunthans from the Department of Hydrogeology, who in their current research focused on the Adygine glacial moraine complex in the Tien Shan Mountains.
A dog or a wolf?
There is a well-known saying that ‘a dog is man’s best friend’ and nowadays we often see that it can be true. Even though dogs are our best friends, there are still a lot of things we do not know about them. For example, when did they become our best friends? In other words, when did wolves begin their transformation from a feared predator into our best friend, the dog? A team of scientists, including Martina Lázničková-Galetová from Hrdlička Museum of Man (Charles University, Faculty of Science) and Moravian Museum in Brno, tried to find an answer to this question. With the help of the latest technology the scientists analysed the microstructure of teeth samples from the Předmostí Palaeolithic site. This study follows up research focusing on the evidence of one of the earliest occurrences of domestications of wolf.
Forest protection against Impatiens glandulifera invasion
Impatiens glandulifera is one of the most successful invasive plants in Europe. In the past, its occurrence was associated mainly with riverbanks because running water facilitated further spread. In the last 20 years, however, I. glandulifera has begun to appear also in forests. What conditions influenced this sudden change during the invasion, what effect can its presence have on the forest ecosystem and how can its spread be stopped? A group of experts from the Institute of Botany of the CAS and our Faculty took a closer look at this issue.
Popular Science: Frequency of fog in the Czech Republic. What is the trend?
Fog is very important for the environment and for human society. In particular, it brings moisture to the landscape and cleans the atmosphere. However, it can be dangerous due to low visibility conditions and because of the formation of acidic fog associated with air pollutants. Yet, not enough attention was devoted to detailed research into fog. Scientists led by Iva Hůnová therefore focused on a comprehensive study of the occurrence of this important atmospheric phenomenon in the Czech Republic from a long-term perspective.
What is the bird species diversity in traditional fruit orchards?
Agriculture intensification and other anthropogenic changes in landscape affect bird populations negatively. Birds are pushed out of the landscape, which ultimately has an adverse effect on the ecological balance in nature, in turn affecting humans. With that said, is every man-made habitat indeed unsuitable for diverse bird populations? Experts together with Dušan Romportl from the Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology focused on the issue of bird species diversity in small areas used as orchards.
No more bottles of beer? Czech adolescents drink less alcohol
Alcohol has been relatively accessible and attractive for teens in the past. In the last decade, however, alcohol consumption among adolescents in Europe has begun to decline. Ladislav Kážmér from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development, together with Pavla Chomynová from the National Institute of Mental Health, analysed the main causes of this decline.
Popular Science: Education and Research in the Pandemic Times
How did the lock-down affect the life of scientists? We asked several questions of two members of our Faculty – Petr Tureček (theoretical biologist, postdoctoral researcher) and Lukáš Kratochvíl (evolution biologist, professor).
Popular Science: The Devil’s Own
Scratchy eyes, irritated skin, eczema, headaches, asthma, cancer and even death. These are the main health risks caused by formaldehyde. This organic compound is extensively produced industrially worldwide, as it is part of a large number of products. If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and would like to find out if the cause is, for example, new furniture, look at the new methods of rapid detection of formaldehyde in wood-based products, which were developed with contributions from Pavel Dvořák and Vlastimil Vyskočil from the Department of Analytical Chemistry.
Testosterone does not make big fighters – at least in chameleons?
While body size is one of the biggest differences between sexes (i.e. sexual dimorphism) in chameleons, little is still known about the mechanism of its evolution. Scientists assumed that male sex hormones play a major role in the ontogeny, as it is thought to be in most vertebrates. However, a study done in geckos suggested otherwise. Three scientists from the Department of Ecology of Charles University’s Faculty of Science led by prof. Lukáš Kratochvíl have carried out a study in chameleons to find out how male gonadal androgens impact the ontogeny of sexual dimorphism.

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