The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is the result of a collaboration between scientists from 28 countries. They analysed abundance indices of 170 bird species that have been consistently monitored over 37 years in more than 20,000 study plots. The authors linked the bird indices to publicly available environmental data from sources such as Eurostat, the European Environment Agency, and the FAO, including information on land use and climate.

The data collected leaves no doubt: the main driver of environmental change leading to serious biodiversity loss is agricultural intensification.

One of the co-authors is Lechosław Kuczyński from our team.

More information:

In this study, based on comprehensive sampling and evaluation of infestation parameters, we found a great diversity of mites that inhabit wood warbler nests. We showed that this ephemeral, single-season microhabitat, provides a space for survival of numerous mite species, and may play a role in mites’ dispersal.

Alicja Laska, Ewa Puchalska, Martyna Mikołajczyk, Dariusz J. Gwiazdowicz, Andrzej Kaźmierski, Wojciech Niedbała, Jerzy Błoszyk, Ziemowit Olszanowski, Jakub Szymkowiak, Natalia Hałas, Lechosław Kuczyński & Anna Skoracka. Mites inhabiting nests of wood warbler, Phylloscopus sibilatrix (Aves: Passeriformes), in the Wielkopolska National Park in western Poland. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 2023;

The study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland, research grant no. 2012/07/N/NZ8/00129 led by Jakub Szymkowiak.

In this article, based on a comprehensive literature review, we explain the relationships between the ability to disperse and the feeding strategy in mites.

Alicja Laska, Brian G Rector, Anna Przychodzka, Agnieszka Majer, Kamila Zalewska, Lechosław Kuczynski, Anna Skoracka, Do mites eat and run? A systematic review of feeding and dispersal strategies, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2023; zlac094,

The study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland, research grant no. 2017/27/N/NZ8/00305 led by Alicja.

We showed that in addition to the spatial attributes of woodlots (that is, their area, isolation, and shape), local habitat is an important predictor of woodlot bird species richness. The overall richness of bird species increased with vegetation height and the richness of woody plant species and decreased with the cover of an invasive tree, the Black Locust Robinia pseudoaccacia. On the contrary, the richness of farmland bird species was positively related to the diversity of woodlot microhabitats, which reflects mainly enrichment by non-forest habitats such as grassland or sparse shrubs.

Our results indicate that the current practices implemented by the EU’s CAP subsidy system favour widespread forest bird species, but not the farmland birds that are more threatened in Europe, for which a microhabitat heterogeneity should instead be maximized.

The study was carried out in cooperation with Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic.

Dvořáková L., Kuczyński L., Rivas-Salvador J. and Reif J. 2022. Habitat Characteristics Supporting Bird Species Richness in Mid-Field Woodlots. Frontiers in Environmental Science. 10:816255.

In this article, we explain how environmental heterogeneity influences niche breadth evolution, which may in turn affect the ability of pests to persist in agricultural systems.


The study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland, research projects no. 2016/21/B/NZ8/00786 and 2017/27/N/NZ8/00305.

Skoracka A., Laska A., Radwan J., Konczal. M., Lewandowski M., Puchalska E., Karpicka-Ignatowska, Przychodzka A., Raubic J., Kuczyński L. 2022. Effective specialist or jack of all trades? Experimental evolution of a crop pest in fluctuating and stable environments. Evolutionary Applications.

In this article, we explain what mechanisms influence the effective colonisation of plants by parastic mites.

The paper is part of Alicja’s PhD thesis. Congratulations!

The study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland, research grant no. 2017/27/N/NZ8/00305 and the Dean Faculty of Biology grant no. GDWB-07/2018.

Laska, A., Przychodzka, A., Puchalska, E., Lewandowski, M., Karpicka-Ignatowska, K. & Skoracka A. Mechanisms of dispersal and colonisation in a wind-borne cereal pest, the haplodiploid wheat curl mite. Sci Rep 12, 551 (2022).

In this study, dispersal strategies of two phytophagous eriophyoid mite species: Aceria tosichella (wheat curl mite, WCM) and Abacarus hystrix (cereal rust mite, CRM) were investigated. We estimated their dispersal success using different dispersal agents: wind and vectors. Results showed that both species dispersed mainly with wind currents whereas phoretic dispersal was rather accidental, as the majority of eriophyoid mite species do not possess clear morphological or behavioural adaptations for phoresy. Additionally, WCM was found to have a higher dispersal success than CRM. Thus, this study contributes to our understanding of the high invasive potential of WCM.

The paper is part of Agnieszka’s PhD thesis. Congratulations!

The study was supported by National Science Centre Poland (NSC) grant no. 2019/35/N/ NZ8/02639 to AM. AS was involved in this work while supported by the (NSC) grant 2016/21/B/ NZ8/00786. NSC funded the scholarship no. 2018/28/T/NZ8/00060 to AM and scholarship no. 2019/32/T/ NZ8/00151 to AL. AL was funded by Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation. AM & AL scholarships were founded by European Social Funds POWR.03.02.00–00–I006/17.

Majer, A., Laska, A., Hein, G., Kuczyński L., Skoracka A. 2021. Hitchhiking or hang gliding? Dispersal strategies of two cereal-feeding eriophyoid mite species. Exp Appl Acarol.

How can species persist when their habitat disappears? Theoretically, in seasonal environments, habitat sinks (where population growth is zero or negative) could serve as temporal stepping-stones (refuges) for specialists, but this possibility has not been demonstrated to date. By combining laboratory experiments and field surveys, we demonstrated the importance of sink habitats for population persistence in temporally varying environments. Together, our results emphasize the relevance of source-sink dynamics in shaping species’ ecological niches. They also have significant implications for explaining patterns of host use by specialists, and the persistence of agricultural pests when their preferred host plants are absent.

The paper is part of Alicja’s PhD thesis. Congratulations!

The study was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland (NSC); research grant no. 2017/27/N/NZ8/00305 and  NSC research grant no. 2016/21/B/NZ8/00786.

Laska, A., Magalhães, S., Lewandowski, M., Puchalska, E., Karpicka-Ignatowska, K., Radwańska, A., Meagher, S., Kuczyński, L., Skoracka, A. 2021. A sink host allows a specialist herbivore to persist in a seasonal source. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288: 20211604.



A recent paper, co-authored by Wiktoria Szydło, reported the full genomes of two European Wheat streak mosaic virus isolates, provided their molecular and biological characteristics and transmissibility by wheat curl mite (lineage MT-8), the only known vector of the virus. Although widely present in Europe, the virus transmissibility was formally checked for the first time with a local population of mites and local virus isolates. The study of genetic diversity of the WSMV populations and the occurrence of recombination events within the virus population should be considered in future disease management strategies, as well as local virus isolates should be incorporated into studies on the virus-vector relationship.

The study was supported by the National Science Centre (NCN) in Poland, Grant No. 2011/01/N/NZ8/04540.

Trzmiel K., Szydło W., Hasiów-Jaroszewska B., 2021. Biological and molecular characterisation of the two Polish Wheat streak mosaic virus isolates and their transmission by wheat curl mites. Plant Protection Science 57 (3),

A new paper, co-authored by Lechosław Kuczyński from our Lab, was published in Limnology and Oceanography. The authors investigated thermal adaptation of Daphnia from lakes that had been artificially warmed for six decades and served as a whole ecosystem model of future temperature increase. Daphnia from heated lakes evolved larger body size, which is contradictory to general expectations and theory. Authors suggest that large size is adaptive during warmer and iceless winters when daphnids overwinter in active form.

More info: Dziuba, M.K., Kuczyński, L., Wejnerowski, Ł., Cerbin, S. and Wolinska, J. 2021. Countergradient variation concealed adaptive responses to temperature increase in Daphnia from heated lakes. Limnology and Oceanography 66: 1268-1280.