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Czech Republic Ants

Klára Bezděčková (formerly Tichá) & Pavel Bezděčka

The Czech Republic is a small country (78,866 km2) in Central Europe. It borders Poland to the northeast, Germany to the west and northwest, Austria to the south and Slovakia to the east. The country is composed of the historic regions of Bohemia and Moravia (including part of Silesia). These subdivisions have lost their administrative role but are still useful in biological research.

The Czech landscape is quite varied. Nearly the entire country is surrounded by low mountains. The highest point is atop Sněžka Mountain (1,602 m ), located in the Krkonoše Mountains in the northeast. The wide highlands also are situated in the center of the republic. Bohemia, which makes up the western part of the country, consists of a basin drained by the Elbe and the Vltava rivers. Moravia, to the east, is drained mainly by the Morava River, but also contains the source of the Oder River. Water from the landlocked Czech Republic flows to three different seas: the North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea.

Biogeographically, much of the Czech Republic is classified as a Middle-European deciduous forest province, though a part of southern Moravia belongs to the Pannonian province. Bohemia consists of a single biogeographical subprovince, Hercynicum, whereas Moravia contains four subprovinces: Hercynicum, Polonicum, Carpathicum and Panonicum. The distributions of many native plant and animal species correspond to these biogeographical subdivisions.

The myrmecofauna of the Czech Republic is relatively well known. The tradition of Czech myrmecology goes back to the middle of the nineteenth century. Intensive myrmecological research was conducted between 1920–1940, mainly by Štěpán Soudek, Miloš Záleský, Josef Kratochvíl, Vladimír Novák, Josef Sadil and Vladimír Šilhavý (ordered chronologically). Although these authors continued their work after World War II, research intensity decreased during this period. A number of other people contributed to the later study of Czech ants, including Karel Samšiňák, Pavel Lauterer, Petr Werner, Pavel Bezděčka, Vladimír Vysoký, Klára Bezděčková (formerly Tichá), Jan Frouz, Pavel Pech, Adam Véle (ordered chronologically).

The core of the Czech myrmecofauna consists of species common across Central Europe, e.g. Myrmica rubra, M. ruginodis, M. sabuleti, M. scabrinodis, Tetramorium cf. caespitum, Temnothorax crassispinus, Formica cunicularia, F. fusca, F. rufa, F. polyctena, F. sanguinea, Lasius niger, L. platythorax, L. fuliginosus, L. flavus, L. umbratus. However, a few rare species are known only from a few sites, e.g. Proceratium melinum, Myrmica hirsuta, Strongylognathus kratochvili, Tetramorium hungaricum, Temnothorax clypeatus, Temnothorax ravouxi, Liometopum microcephalum, Bothriomyrmex communistus, Lasius austriacus, Plagiolepis xene.

In total, 110 ant species are known from the Czech Republic. This number seems to be slightly underestimated. Species distributed in neighbouring countries, especially some Mediterranean or sub-Mediterranean species, parasitic species and species with cryptic lifestyles are likely to be found within the country in the future. In addition, some crucial taxonomic problems among European ant genera such as Bothriomyrmex, Tetramorium and Temnothorax remain unresolved. Such additional research is likely result in a number of species-level changes, including discoveries and descriptions of new species that may be found in the Czech Republic.

Klára Bezděčková (formerly Tichá) & Pavel Bezděčka
Czech Ant Curators

Their recent publications on Czech ants
are focused on faunistics (1, 5, 6, 7),
ethology (2, 3), ecology (8, 9), and conservation biology (4).