Martin Volf joins MIE to explore induced defences in forest canopies
Martin is a postdoctoral researcher who specializes on insect-plant interactions, evolution of plant defensive traits, and chemical ecology. He is involved in projects examining latitudinal gradients of insect biodiversity and insect communities in forest canopies. Further, he is interested in evolutionary trends in Ficus and Salix defences and their impact on herbivore community assembly. He is also involved in projects focused on elevation trends in Ficus defences and speciation. After his studies at the University of South Bohemia, work at Czech Academy of Sciences, and period as a fellow at Smithsonian Institution, he was awarded a fellowship for postdoctoral researchers by the Alexander for Humboldt foundation to join the MIE group of Nicole van Dam and study induced plant defences in forest canopies.
Tree canopies support a substantial part of global biodiversity, including hyperdiverse communities of herbivorous insects. Revealing the factors driving insect herbivory in canopies is thus key for understanding some of the most intriguing patterns of global biodiversity. Martin will explore the role of the localized defence induction in promoting intra-individual variation in canopies enhancing the variability of insect assemblages, and in turn, overall diversity of canopy insects. He will use a novel approach combining manipulative garden and field experiments in canopy trees accessed by a canopy crane. Martin aims at jointly studying the effects of secondary metabolites, parasitism rates and bird predation on insect herbivores to assess their relative importance for protecting forest canopies.