Dr Martin Volf

Scholarship Holder

Research focus


I specialize on insect-plant relationships, evolution of plant defensive traits, and chemical ecology. I am involved in projects examining latitudinal gradients of insect biodiversity and insect communities in forest canopies. Further, I am interested in evolutionary trends in Ficus and Salix defences and their impact on herbivore community assembly. I am also involved in projects focused on elevation trends in Ficus defences and speciation.

My primary project at iDiv is to examine the role of induced plant defences in forest canopies. Mainly, I 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. I use a novel approach combining manipulative garden and field experiments in canopy trees accessed by a canopy crane. I aim at jointly studying the effects of secondary metabolites, parasitism rates and bird predation on insect herbivores.


Google Scholar




Canopy, community ecology, coevolution, evolution of plant defences, Ficus, herbivory, insect-plant interactions, induced defence, secondary metabolites, Salix

Short CV


2017– now

Postdoc / Alexander von Humboldt fellow at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig (supervised by Nicole van Dam)

Postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution (hosted by K. A. Teixeira)

2016 – 2017

Postdoctoral research scientist at Biology Center, Czech Academy of Sciences

2012 – 2016

Ph.D. in Entomology, University of South Bohemia. Honours (cum laude). Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Vojtěch Novotný CSc, Title: Specificity of insect-plant associations and their role in the formation of plant defenses and speciation. Date of defense: 12.10. 2016

2012 – 2016

Postgraduate fellow at Biology Center, Czech Academy of Sciences


Predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution (hosted by K. A. Teixeira)


RNDr. in Zoology (an extension of a master degree), Supervisor: prof. RNDr. Vojtěch Novotný CSc, Title: Insect herbivores drive the loss of unique chemical defense in willows


Field team leader during two month stay at Tomakomai Experimental Forest, Hokkaido, Japan


Field team leader during three month stay at Tomakomai Experimental Forest, Hokkaido, Japan

2010 – 2012

M.Sc. in Zoology, University of South Bohemia. Honours. Awarded by the Dean's and the University President's prizes, Supervisor: M.Sc. Jan Hrček Ph.D. Title: The impact of deffensive host-plant traits on community structure of herbivorous insects on willows


One month research stay at University of Eastern Finland (hosted by R. Julkunen-Tiitto)

Two month research stay at University of Minnesota (hosted by J. Cavender-Bares)

2007 – 2010

B.Sc. in Biology, University of South Bohemia. Honours. Supervisor: M.Sc. Jan Hrček. Ph.D. Title: Community structure of leaf-chewing insect on willows

Selected Publications


Volf M.*, Segar S. T.*, Miller Scott E., Isua Brus, Sisol Mentap, Aubona Gibson, Šimek P., Moos M., Laitila Juuso, Kim Jorma, Zima J., Rota Jadranka, Weiblen George D., Wossa Stewart, Salminen Juha-Pekka, Basset Y. F., Novotny V. (2017) Community structure of insect herbivores is driven by conservatism, escalation and divergence of defensive traits in Ficus. Ecology Letters, in press.

Volf M., Pyszko P., Abe T., Libra M., Kotásková N., Šigut M., Kumar R., Kaman O., Butterill P. T., Šipoš J., Abe H., Fukushima H., Drozd P., Kamata N., Murakami M., Novotny V. (2017) Phylogenetic composition of host plant communities drives plant-herbivore food web structure. Journal of Animal Ecology, 86, 556-565.

Volf, M., Kadlec, J., Butterill, P. T., & Novotny, V. (2017). Host phylogeny and nutrient content drive galler diversity and abundance on willows. Ecological Entomology, 42, 685-688.

Biranvand, A., Nedvěd, O., Shakarami, J., Fekrat, L., Hamidi, E., Volf, M., & Hanley, G. A. (2017). The ladybeetle community (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) in North East of Iran. Baltic Journal of Coleopterology, 17, 49-67.

Segar, S. T.*, Volf, M.*, Zima, J., Isua, B., Sisol, M., Sam, L., Sam K., Souto‐Vilarós, D., & Novotny, V. (2017). Speciation in a keystone plant genus is driven by elevation: a case study in New Guinean Ficus. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 30, 512-523.

Segar S. T., Volf M., Isua Brus, Sisol Mentap, Redmond C. M., Rossati Margaret E., Gewa Bradley, Molem Kenneth, Dahl C. N., Holloway Jeremy, Basset Y. F., Miller Scott E., Weiblen George D., Novotný V. (2017) Varyingly Hungry Caterpillars: Phylogenetic Predictions of Host Use for Herbivores in Lowland Rainforest. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, in press.

Volf, M.*, Redmond, C.*, Albert, Á.J., Le Bagousse‐Pinguet, Y., Biella, P., Götzenberger, L., Hrázský, Z., Janeček, Š., Klimešová, J., Lepš, J., Šebelíková, L., Vlasatá, T., de Bello, F. (2016) Effects of long- and short-term management on the functional structure of meadows through species turnover and intraspecific trait variability. Oecologia, 180, 941-950.

Volf, M., Hrcek, J., Julkunen‐Tiitto, R., & Novotny, V. (2015). To each its own: differential response of specialist and generalist herbivores to plant defence in willows. Journal of Animal Ecology, 84, 1123–1132.

Volf, M., Julkunen‐Tiitto, R., Hrcek, J., & Novotny, V. (2015). Insect herbivores drive the loss of unique chemical defense in willows. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 156, 88–98.

Forister, M.L., Novotny, V., Panorska, A.K., Baje, L., Basset, Y., Butterill, P.T., Cizek, L., Coley, P.D., Dem, F., Diniz, I.R., Drozd, P., Fox, M., Glassmire, A.E., Hazen, R., Hrcek, J., Jahner, J.P., Kaman, O., Kozubowski, T.J., Kursar, T.A., Lewis, O.T., Lill, J., Marquis, R.J., Miller, J.S., Morais, H.C., Murakami, M., Nickel, H., Pardikes, N.A., Ricklefs, R.E., Singer, M.S., Smilanich, A.M., Stireman, J.O., Villamarín-Cortez, S., Vodka, S., Volf, M., Wagner, D.L., Walla, T., Weiblen, G.D. & Dyer, L.A.  (2015). The global distribution of diet breadth in insect herbivores.  PNAS, 112, 442-447.

iDiv publications


Volf, M., Holec, M., Holcová, D., Jaroš, P., Hejda, R., Drag, L., Blízek, J., Šebek, P., Čížek, L.

Microhabitat mosaics are key to the survival of an endangered ground beetle (Carabus nitens) in its post-industrial refugia Journal of Insect Conservation 22(2), 321-28
Icon address

Deutscher Platz 5e
04103 Leipzig

Icon roomnumber


Icon phone
+49 341 9733163
Icon institutes

Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Friedrich Schiller University Jena

Share this site on:
iDiv is a research centre of theDFG Logo