Vojtech Novotny


Head of Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology
at Biology Center, Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Professor of Ecology at the Department of Zoology
Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic

Director of The New Guinea Binatang Research Center, Papua New Guinea


Institute of Entomology, Branisovska 31,
370 05 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
Phone +420 38 7775362, Fax +420 38 5300354


Ph. D. in Entomology, Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences in 1993
M. Sc. in Ecology, Palacky University in 1988.

Professional Appointments

Institute of Entomology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic:

Ph. D. student 1989-1993

Research Scientist 1993-present

Head of Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology 2002-present

Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic:

Teaching Associate 1993

Assistant Professor 1993-1998

Associate Professor 1998-2005

Professor of Ecology 2005-present
The New Guinea Binatang Research Center Ltd., Madang, Papua New Guinea:

Director 1997-present
Research Associate of the Bishop Museum, Honolulu, USA (1997-present)
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA (2000-present)

Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia (2006-present)

Research Fellowships

Royal Society (U. K): 1993-1994
Christensen Research Fund (USA & Papua New Guinea): 1995-1996
Otto Kinne Foundation (Germany): 1995 and 2001-2002
J. W. Fulbright Commission (U.S.A.): 1998-1999


Outstanding Young Scientist Award, the Czech Academy of Sciences, 1999
Otto Wichterle Award, Czech Academy of Sciences, 2002

Research Interests

I am interested in community and evolutionary ecology of insect herbivores, especially in rainforest ecosystems. The main areas of my interest include local and regional patterns of tropical insect diversity, organisation of insect communities, and insect-plant interactions, as well as the methodology of biodiversity surveys, biodiversity conservation, environmental education and parataxonomist training.

Key Publications (72 in total)

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Hulcr, J., Drew, R. A. I., Basset, Y., Janda, M., Setliff, G. P., Darrow, K., Stewart, A. J. A., Auga, J., Isua, B., Molem, K., Manumbor, M., Tamtiai, E., Mogia, M. & Weiblen, G. D. (2007) Low beta diversity of herbivorous insects in tropical forests. Nature, 448, 692-695. [ pdf file ] Supplementary material [ pdf file ] Commentary [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Drozd, P., Miller, S. E., Kulfan, M., Janda, M., Basset, Y., Weiblen, G. D. (2006) Why are there so many species of herbivorous insects in tropical rainforests? Science 313, 1115-1118 [ pdf file ] Supplementary material [ pdf file ] Commentary [ pdf file ] Correspondence [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Basset, Y., Miller, S.E., Weiblen, G.D., Bremer, B., Cizek, L. & Drozd, P. (2002) Low host specificity of herbivorous insects in a tropical forest. Nature 416, 841-844. [ pdf file ]

Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S.E. & Kitching. R. (eds.) (2003) Arthropods of Tropical Forests: Spatio-Temporal Dynamics and Resource Use in the Canopy, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Novotny, V. (2009) Notebooks from New Guinea. Field Notes of a Tropical Biologist. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 256 pp. [ link ]

Other Selected Publications


Craft, K. J., Pauls, S. U., Darrow, K., Miller, S. E., Hebert, P. N. D., Helgen, L., Novotny, V., and Weiblen, G. D. (2010) Population genetic differentiation of New Guinea lowland rainforest Lepidoptera. PNAS 107, 50415046.

Hamilton, A. J., Basset, Y., Benke, K. K., Grimbacher, P. S., Miller, S. E., Novotny, V., Samuelson, G. A., Stork, N. E., Weiblen, G. D. & Yen, J. D. L. (2010) Quantifying uncertainty in estimation of global arthropod species richness. American Naturalist, 176: 90-95

Novotny, V. (2010) Rainforest conservation in a tribal world: why forest dwellers prefer loggers to conservationists. Biotropica, DOI 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2010.00658.x

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Baje, L., Balagawi, S., Basset, Y., Cizek, L., Craft, K. J., Dem, F., Drew, R. A. I., Hulcr, J., Leps, J., Lewis, O., Pokon, R., Stewart, A. J. A. & Weiblen, G. D. 2010. Guild-specific patterns of species richness and host specialization in plant-herbivore food webs from a tropical forest. Journal of Animal Ecology doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2010.01728.x


Novotny, V. (2009) Beta diversity of plant-insect food webs in tropical forests: a conceptual framework. Insect Conservation and Diversity 2, 5-9.

Dahl, C., Novotny, V., Moravec, J. & Richards, S. J. (2009) Beta diversity of frogs in the forests of New Guinea, Amazonia and Europe: contrasting tropical and temperate communities. Journal of Biogeography 36, 896-904


Hulcr, J., Novotny, V., Maurer, B. A. & Cognato, A. I. (2008) Low beta diversity of ambrosia beetles (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae) in lowland rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Oikos 117, 214-222.

Basset, Y., Missa, O., Alonso, A., Miller, S. E., Curletti, G., De Meyer, M., Eardley, C., Lewis, O. T., Mansell, M. W., Novotny, V. & Wagner, T. (2008) Changes in arthropod assemblages along a wide gradient of disturbance in Gabon. Conservation Biology 22, 1552-1563.


Hulcr, J., Mogia, M., Isua, B. & Novotny, V. (2007) Host specificity of ambrosia and bark beetles (Col., Curculionidae: Scolytinae and Platypodinae) in a New Guinea rainforest. Ecological Entomology 32: 762-772.


Weiblen, G. D., Webb, C. O., Novotny, V., Basset, Y. & Miller, S. E. (2006) Phylogenetic dispersion of host use in a tropical insect herbivore community. Ecology 87, S62-S75 [ pdf file ]


Lewinsohn, T. M., Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (2005) Insects on plants: diversity of herbivore assemblages revisited. Annual Reviews of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 36:597-620 [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Clarke, A. R., Drew, R. A. I., Balagawi, S. & Clifford, B. (2005) Host specialization and species richness of fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae) in a New Guinea rain forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 21: 67-77 [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (2005) Host specificity of insect herbivores in tropical forests. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, Biological Sciences 272:1083-1090 [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Basset, Y., Cizek, L., Darrow, K., Kaupa, B., Kua, J. & Weiblen, G. D (2005) An altitudinal comparison of caterpillar (Lepidoptera) assemblages on Ficus trees in Papua New Guinea. Journal of Biogeography 32:1303-1314 [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V. & Weiblen, G. D. (2005) From communities to continents: beta-diversity of herbivorous insects. Annales Zoologici Fennici 42:463-475. [ pdf file ]

Pokon, R., Novotny, V & Samuelson, G. A. (2005) Host specialization and species richness of root feeding chrysomelid larvae (Chrysomelidae, Coleoptera) in a New Guinea rainforest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 21, 595-604 [ pdf file ]


Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S.E., Weiblen, G.D., Missa, O. & Stewart, A. J. A. (2004) Conservation and biological monitoring of tropical forests: the role of parataxonomists. Journal of Applied Ecology 41, 163-174. [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Basset, Y., Miller, S. E., Kitching, R., Laidlaw, M., Drozd, P. & Cizek, L. (2004) Local species richness of leaf-chewing insects feeding on woody plants from one hectare of a lowland rainforest. Conservation Biology 18, 227-237. [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Leps, J., Bito, D., Janda, M., Hulcr, J., Basset, Y., Damas & K. Weiblen, G. D. (2004) No tree an island: the plant-caterpillar food web of secondary rainforest in New Guinea. Ecology Letters 7: 1090-1100 [ pdf file ]


Novotny, V., Basset, Y. & Kitching, R. (2003) Herbivore communities and their food resources. In Arthropods of Tropical Forests: Spatio-Temporal Dynamics and Resource Use in the Canopy (Eds. Y. Basset, V. Novotny, S.E. Miller & R. Kitching), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Pp 40-53.

Novotny, V., Miller, S. E., Cizek, L, Leps, J., Janda, M., Basset, Y., Darrow, K. & Weiblen, G. W. (2003) Colonizing aliens: caterpillars (Lepidoptera) feeding on Piper aduncum and P. umbellatum in rainforests of Papua New Guinea. Ecological Entomology 28, 704-716. [ pdf file ]


Novotny, V., Basset, Y., Miller, S. E., Drozd, P. & Cizek, L. (2002) Host specialisation of leaf chewing insects in a New Guinea rainforest. Journal of Animal Ecology 71, 400-412. [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V., S. E. Miller, Y. Basset, L. Cizek, P. Drozd, K. Darrow, and J. Leps. 2002. Predictably simple: communities of caterpillars (Lepidoptera) feeding on rainforest trees in Papua New Guinea. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, 269, 2337-2344. [ pdf file ]


Leps, J., Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (2001) Habitat and successional status of plants in relation to the communities of their leaf-chewing herbivores in Papua New Guinea. Journal of Ecology 89, 186-199. [ pdf file ]


Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (2000) Rare species in communities of tropical insect herbivores: pondering the mystery of singletons. Oikos 89, 564-572. [ pdf file 1.9 MB ]

Novotny, V. & Drozd, P. (2000) Size distribution of conspecific populations: peoples of New Guinea. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, Biological Sciences 267, 947-952. [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V. & Missa, O. (2000) Local and regional species richness in the tropics: sap-sucking insects (Auchenorrhyncha, Hemiptera) from a lowland rain forest site and the island of New Guinea. Ecological Entomology 25, 445-451. [ pdf file ]

Basset, Y., Novotny, V., Miller, S. E. & Pyle, R. (2000) Quantifying Biodiversity: Experience with Parataxonomists and Digital Photography in Papua New Guinea and Guyana. BioScience 50, 899-908. [ pdf file ]


Basset, Y. & Novotny, V. (1999) Species richness of insect herbivore communities on Ficus in Papua New Guinea. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 67, 477-499. [ pdf file ]

Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (1999) Body size and host plant specialisation: a relationship from a community of herbivorous insects from New Guinea. Journal of Tropical Ecology 15, 315-328. [ pdf file ]


Novotny, V. & Basset, Y. (1998) Seasonality of sap-sucking insects (Auchenorrhyncha, Hemiptera) feeding on Ficus (Moraceae) in a lowland rain forest in New Guinea. Oecologia 115, 514-522. [ pdf file ]


Novotny, V. & Wilson, M. R. (1997) Why there are no small species among xylem-sucking insects? Evolutionary Ecology 11, 419-437.


Novotny, V. & Kindlmann, P. (1996) Distribution of arthropod body sizes in taxa and communities. Oikos 75, 75-82.


Novotny, V. (1995) Relationships between life histories of leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha, Hemiptera) and their host plants (Juncaceae, Cyperaceae, Poaceae). Oikos 73, 33-42.


Novotny, V. (1994) Association of polyphagy in leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha, Hemiptera) with unpredictable environments. Oikos 70, 223-232.

Novotny, V. (1994) Relation between temporal persistence of host plants and wing length in leafhoppers (Auchenorrhyncha, Hemiptera). Ecological Entomology 19, 168-176.


Spitzer, K., Novotny, V., Tonner, M. & Leps, J. (1993) Habitat preferences, distribution and seasonality of the butterflies (Lepidoptera, Papilionoidea) in a montane tropical rain forest, Vietnam. Journal of Biogeography 20, 109-121.


Novotny, V. (1992) Community structure of Auchenorrhyncha (Homoptera) in montane rain forest in Vietnam. Journal of Tropical Ecology 8, 169-179.


Novotny, V. (1991) Effect of habitat persistence on the relationship between geographic distribution and local abundance. Oikos 61, 431-433.

Internet Publications

Drozd, P. & Novotny, V. (1999) PowerNiche 1.0 - modeling abundance patterns of species in biological communities. Software published at and downloadable from

Miller, S. E., Darrow, K., Basset, Y., Weiblen, G. D. & Novotny, V. (2004) CATS - Caterpillars feeding on New Guinea plants Online. Searchable database at

Commentary on my research

Roslin, T. (2002) Herbivory passing the limits. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17, 355. [ pdf file ]

Kitching, R. L. (2006) Crafting the pieces of the diversity jigsaw puzzle. Science 313:1055-1056 [ pdf file ]

Stork, N. E. (2007) World of insects. Nature 448:657-658. [ pdf file ]

Professional journals

Biotropica: Editor, 2004-present
Ecology Letters: Editor, 2007-present
European Journal of Entomology: Editor, 2002-present

Professional Travel and Residence

Papua New Guinea: Christensen Research Institute and The New Guinea Binatang

Research Center Ltd., Madang (1995-present; 8 years)

U. S. A.: Bishop Museum, Honolulu (1996, 1997 and 1998; 6 months)

Guyana: International Institute of Entomology & Tropenbos, Georgetown (1997, 2 months)

U. K.: University of Wales, Cardiff (1993-1994, 12 months)

U. K.: National Museum of Wales, Cardiff (1993, 1 month)

Vietnam: University of Hanoi, Hanoi (1989, 1991 and 1993, 3 months)

Panama: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama City (1999, 2 months)


Czech (native), English, Melanesian Pidgin, Russian


Tropical Ecology, undergraduate and postgraduate
Community Ecology, undergraduate and postgraduate Ecology, undergraduate
Field Course in Tropical Ecology, undergraduate and postgraduate

Grants (Principal or Co-Principal Investigator)

British Ecological Society Small Ecological Projects
British Petroleum Conservation Award
Conservation Melanesia, PNG
Czech Academy of Sciences Grant Agency
Czech Ministry of Education Grant Agency
Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species, U. K.
European Science Foundation Travel Grant
Grant Agency of the Czech Republic
National Science Foundation, USA
Papua New Guinea Biological Foundation, Australia
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Short-Term Visitor Grant, USA


Cambridge University, Charles University (Prague), Essen University (Essen), Griffith University (Brisbane), Harvard University (Cambridge), Imperial College (Silwood Park), Institute of Entomology (C. Budejovice), Oxford University, Palacky University (Olomouc), Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama), University of California (Los Angeles), University of Hawaii (Honolulu), University of James Cook (Cairns), University of Panama (Panama), University of South Bohemia (C. Budejovice), University of Wales (Cardiff), Wuerzburg University (Wuerzburg).