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Popular Science

Do we know how newly introduced cultural crops are influencing the soil?
Soil is an important provider of ecosystem services, among the most important of which include the possibility of food production and the mitigation of climate change effects. This is made possible through carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling, which are processes primarily driven by soil biota. However, the intensification of agricultural production caused by the growing demand for biofuels reduces the soil biota. We are used to producing oilseed rape, Miscanthus and hybrid sorrel (Rumex patientia x R. tianshanicus) as biofuel plants. While the first two crops are already established in our country, we have very little information so far about the effects of the long-term cultivation of hybrid sorrel on soil organisms.
A way to discover the true species diversity of single-celled organisms?
What is the true diversity of organisms on our planet? That is the question that keeps many scientists awake at night. Interestingly, until now many more macroscopic organisms have been described than the very smallest ones, invisible to the naked eye. But one would probably assume that those tiny organisms will be more abundant as they have obviously had much more time for their differentiation.
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Popular Science: The phenomenon of farmers’ shops in Czechia
What are the reasons of the recent expansion of farmers’ shops in the Czech Republic? Are all the goods sold there from Czechia? What are the problems faced by the owners of the shops? We can read about these and other topics in the article written by Marie Syrovátková from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development from the Faculty of Science of the Charles University.
The space distribution of farmer’s shops in 2014, source: the author of the study.
The space distribution of farmer’s shops in 2014, source: the author of the study.
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The microscopic inhabitants of Antarctic waters
Antarctica is, no doubt, the wildest and least explored continent on Earth. In the challenging conditions typical for Antarctic land, few organisms can survive. Although there has been a continuously inhabited station at the South Pole for more than 60 years, not many can say that they visited Antarctica. There are a few from our Faculty of Science, though, and one of them is T. J. Kohler of the Department of Ecology. In his case it was the McMurdo Dry Valley and Ross Island in eastern part of Antarctica (situated approximately across from New Zealand).
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Prague banks in foreign hands
The geographical distribution and behaviour of banks have recently become targets of more and more research. Who and where rules the economic power mirrors wider consequences and regional development as well. The majority of studies have concerned the most important bank centres so far. Jiří Blažek and Ilona Bečicová from the Department of Social Geography and Regional Development have analysed the development of Prague’s bank cluster and emphasized the (dis)advantages related to the takeover of the majority of Czech banks by multinational groups.
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The bigger lizard attacks
Meeting of two monitor lizards might be quite an aggressive business when they want to settle which one is the boss. The conflict is not only dangerous, but also energetically demanding. It would be advantageous to be able to evaluate one’s chances beforehand. In the first ritual phase of monitor lizards’ conflict males, show off to one another. Can they estimate their chances based on their rivals’ size, and choose the right strategy accordingly?
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Through categorisation to victory over invasive plants
Out of all alien organisms in Europe, plants are the most numerous taxonomic group. They can negatively influence both the original European flora and the people. Categorising invasive species according to their impact on the environment is vital for the successful management of biological invasions. That is what Zuzana Rumlerová and Petr Pyšek from our Department of Ecology decided to do together with colleagues from other workplaces. They chose 128 invasive plant species in Europe and evaluated their environmental and socioeconomic impacts.
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The relationship between abortion and contraception in Czechia and Slovakia
Is there a similar trend in abortions over time in Czechia and Slovakia? How is it influenced by using modern contraceptive methods? How do these states differ in the society’s attitude to abortion? Jiřina Kocourková from the Department of Demography and Geodemography of the Faculty of Science Charles University focused on these and more topics in her article.
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Cuckoos’ Russian Roulette
Cuckoos are known to be notorious brood parasites. The moment the host parent leaves their nest, there comes the cuckoo. Not only does the cuckoo lay her own eggs into the host nest, but she also pushes usually one of the original eggs out. How does the cuckoo choose which egg to remove to improve her offspring’s chances of survival?
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Ubiquitous cyanobacteria and how to treat them
One of the limiting factors of society development is the availability and quality of water. Due to climate change and continual pollution of water resources, it is necessary to intensify efforts to ensure a stable supply of drinking water. A number of processes and technologies used recently are now insufficient, and to ensure high-quality drinking water, it is required to find new methods. For this reason, scientists from the Institute for Environmental Studies are working to improve the methods of water treatment, this time in connection with the increasing occurrence of cyanobacteria and the amount of organic matter produced by them.
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Even bees guard their nests. Or don’t they?
The first association with the word “bee” is usually a swarm of bees in a hive. We won’t talk about these bees – such as honeybees – here today. Bees of the genus Ceratina guard their nests as well. They are commonly known as carpenter bees, since they build their nests in dead stems or sticks with pith. They are solitary, but just as good pollinators as honeybees, even though they are much smaller – only up to eight millimeters. Compared to honeybees, they are also dark without stripes on the abdomen. And it is these carpenter bees that became an interest of entomologists from our Faculty of Science.
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