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Research interests
and list of scientific publications

I am interested in mammalogy, animal behaviour, phylogeny of mammals, ecology and evolution of subterranean mammals, and in biology of African animals.

My main scientific interest is a group of very peculiar animals - subterranean rodents. Among these highly specialised mammals, which spend most of their life in extensive underground burrow systems, the African mole-rats (Bathyergidae, Rodentia) is my favourite group. These rodents have become one of the most interesting subjects of the study in many fields of zoology. Their unique biology is connected especially with their adaptations to life in underground. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the divergence of social systems existing within this relatively small family (about 22 species) and occurrence of eusociality. Eusociality is a unique social system originally described in hymenopterans and isopterans. It is characterised by monopolisation of reproduction by one or few individuals within the group, overlap of generations, cooperative brood care and in insects by existence of permanent castes, in mammals by lifelong philopatry of the most offspring. This social system was considered as really unique among vertebrates.
In my field and laboratory research, I focus on various aspects of biology of the least known genus of mole-rat Heliophobius with one recognised species, the silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argeneteocinereus). Beside of studies on ecology, behaviour, reproduction, parasites and physiology of mole-rat and also human - mole-rats interactions, the leitmotiv of my research is an investigation of how data on the biology of this species may help to elucidate evolutionary origin and adaptive meaning of eusociality in bathyergid mole-rats.
I closely colaborate with Prof. Hynek Burda, University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany) and Wilbert N. Chitaukali, University of Zomba (Malawi).

My further scientific interest is biology of the spiny mice (genus Acomys). I focus mainly on behavioral ecology and reproductive biology of several species e g. Acomys dimidiatus or Acomys cilicicus in cooperation with Daniel Frynta, Charles University (Czech Republic).
I work also on biology and taxonomy of various small African mammals.

List of scientific papers:

21. Šklíba J, Šumbera R & Chitaukali WN (in press) Reactions to disturbances in the context of antipredatory behaviour in a solitary subterranean rodent. Journal of Ethology.

20. Šumbera R, Šklíba J, Elichová M, Chitaukali WN & Burda H (2008) Natural history and burrow system architecture of the silvery mole-rat from Brachystegia woodland. Journal of Zoology, London 274(1):77-84.

19. Šklíba J, Šumbera R & Benda P (2007) Bocage's fruit bat (Lissonycteris angolensis), a new species for Malawi. Nyala 24:61-63.

18. Šumbera R, Zelová J, Kunc P, Knížková I & H Burda (2007) Patterns of surface temperatures in two mole-rats (Bathyergidae) with different social systems as revealed by IR-thermography. Physiology and Behaviour 92:526–532.

17. Šklíba J, Šumbera R, Chitaukali WN & Burda H (2007) Determinants of daily activity patterns in the free living Afrotropical solitary subterranean rodent. Journal of Mammalogy 88(4):1009-1016.

16. Zelová J, Šumbera R, Sedlácek F & Burda H (2007) Energetics in the solitary subterranean rodent, the silvery mole-rat, Heliophobius argenteocinereus, and the allometry of RMR in African mole-rats (Bathyergidae). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 147(2):412-419.

15. Rícánková V, Šumbera R & Sedlácek F (2007) Familiarity and partner preferences in female common voles, Microtus arvalis. Journal of Ethology 25(1): 95-98.

14. Šumbera R, Chitaukali WN & Burda H. (2007) Biology of the silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus). Why study a neglected subterranean rodent species? Pp. 221-236. In: Begall S, Burda H & Schleich C (Eds.) News from underground. Springer-Verlag.

13. Burda H, Šumbera R & Begall S (2007) Microclimate in burrows of subterranean rodents – revisited. Pp. 21-34. In: Begall S, Burda H & Schleich C (Eds.) News from underground. Springer-Verlag.

12. Grim T & Šumbera R (2006): A new record of the endangered white winged nightjar (Eleothreptus candicans) from Beni, Bolivia. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 118(1): 109-112.

11. Burda H, Šumbera R, Chitaukali WN, & Dryden GL (2005): Taxonomic status and remarks on ecology of the Malawian mole-rat, Coetomys whytei (Thomas, 1897) (Rodentia, Bathyergidae). Acta Theriologica 50(4): 529-536.

10. Hubálek Z, Burda H, Scharff A, Heth G, Nevo E, Šumbera R, Peško J, & Zima J (2005): Emmonsiosis of subterranean rodents ( Bathyergidae, Spalacidae) in Africa and Israel. Medical Mycology. 43: 691-697.

9. Modrý D, Jirku M, & Šumbera R (2005): Three new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from the silvery mole- rat Heliophobius argenteocinereus Peters, 1846 (Rodentia: Bathyergidae) from Malawi. Journal of Parasitology 91(5): 1200-1203.

8. Šumbera R, Chitaukali WN, Elichová M, Kubová J, & Burda H (2004): Microclimatic stability in burrows of an Afrotropical solitary bathyergid rodent, the silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus). Journal of Zoology, London 263: 409-416.

7. Baruš V, Tenora F, & Šumbera R (2003): Relative concentrations of four heavy metals in the parasites Protospirura muricola (Nematoda) and Inermicapsifer arvicanthidis (Cestoda) in their definitive host silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus : Rodentia). Helminthologia 40(4): 227-232.

6. Šumbera R, Burda H, Chitaukali WN, & Kubová J (2003): The silvery mole-rats (Heliophobius argenteocinereus, Bathyergidae) change their burrow architecture seasonally. Naturwissenschaften 90(8): 370-373.

5. Tenora F, Baruš V, Prokeš M, Šumbera R, & Koubková B (2003): Helminths parasitizing the silvery mole-rat, Heliophobius argenteocinereus (Rodentia: Bathyergidae) from Malawi. Helminthologia 40(3): 153-160.

4. Šumbera R, Burda H & Chitaukali WN (2003): Reproductive biology of a solitary subterranean bathyergid rodent, the silvery mole-rat (Heliophobius argenteocinereus). Journal of Mammalogy 84(1), 278-287.

3. Šumbera R, Baruš V, & Tenora F (2003): Heavy metals in the silvery mole-rat, Heliophobius argenteocinereus (Bathyergidae, Rodentia) from Malawi. Folia Zoologica 52(2): 149-153.

2. Šumbera R (2001): The mating behaviour of the silvery mole-rat. Pp. 353-364 In: African small mammals (C. Denys, L. Granjon, and A. Poulet, eds.). Collection colloques et séminaires, IRD Editions, Paris.

1. Koudela B, Šumbera R, & Sedlácek F (2000): Eimeria burdai sp. n. (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae), a new parasite species from subterranean silvery mole-rat, Heliophobius argenteocinereus, Peters, 1846. Folia Parasitologica 47: 97-99.

Fellowships and Research Grants:

2008-2009  PPP DAAD
2008-2011  GAAV (Grant Agency of Academy of Sciences)
2007           Field study in Zambia (two months)
2005           Field study in Malawi (6 months)
2004-2006  GACR (Grant Agency of Czech Republic)
2000           Field study in Malawi (5 months)
2000-2001  GACR (Grant Agency of Czech Republic)
                  DAAD Scholarship at the University of Essen (5 months)

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