Travel journal from Cameroon

Upon his return from a research trip in Cameroon, tropical entomologist and new associate professor at our faculty, Jan Šobotník (Termite Research Team), had mixed feelings: on the one hand, he had seen a catastrophic decline in termite populations in the forest, on the other, however, the group collected many new termophile insects, yet unknown to science.

„Unique group consisting of 6 nationalities experienced on their fieldwork in Cameroon a series of unexpected incidents connected by the common denominator: extreme drought, lack of water in nearby dam causing power cut in the whole region, extremely high temperatures making all of us tired quite fast, incredible dustiness in the village, or catastrophic decline of termite abundance in the forest (we thus repeated termite abundance transect and I am very curious about comparison 2016 vs. 2020). During the first week of the campaign, all samples for “Soil-formation mechanisms in Congo basin” project were collected and all termite baits for EVA 4.0 project sampled, then we started working on a new project focussing at optimisation of land-use practices and biodiversity conservation in Cameroon, last days were devoted mostly to collecting samples for the termite genomes sequencing project.

Once again, we have seen extreme diversity of termites, and roughly achieved the expected number of termite genera seen (60). Concerning the rarer stuff, we have collected Acutidentitermes, Machadotermes, Unguitermes, Proboscitermes, Fastigitermes, and some others. The expedition to the North yielded among others Fulleritermes, Trinervitermes or Amitermes, i.e. genera we are not used to see in the South of Cameroon at all. Also, thanks to the excellent work of Kanao-san, we have collected enormous amounts of termophile insects that appear to be unknown to the science, yet.”

And how it looked in Cameroon? You can find out in the gallery bellow.

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