Dr. Demetra Rakosy


Dr. Demetra Rakosy
Postdoc 'Spatial Interaction Ecology'

Department of Community Ecology
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ/

German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Puschstraße 4
D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
(postal address)

Tel: +49 341 9733117
Room: A.02.12

Demetra Rakosy



My current research focuses on understanding the mechanisms driving changes in plant-pollinator interactions along natural and anthropogenic gradients. I am thereby particularly interested in how changes in taxonomic and functional diversity of both plant and insect communities along these gradients mediate plant-pollinator network structure.

Further points of interest:

  • identifying the factors which mediate the roles individual species play in a plant-pollinator network and understanding the spatial and temporal variation in species roles
  • the link between network structure and plant reproductive success
  • factors influencing the restoration of plant-pollinator interactions
  • historic plant-pollinator interactions
  • integration of pollen into plant-pollinator network analyses

Study sites

Most of our study sites lie in Central to Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, Romania). Eastern Europe still harbours some of the most species rich natural and semi-natural habitats in Europe. Its mosaic landscapes offer an ideal setting for understanding plant-pollinator networks across various gradients. While these landscapes can offer valuable insights for the conservation and restoration of plant-pollinator networks across Europe, there are also aspects more unique to the region. For example intensive grazing (mainly by sheep) threatens most of the highly diverse grasslands of Romania, yet this threat is not sufficiently recognised at the European level. We hope that our research in this so far rather neglected area of Europe will draw additional light onto the issue of overgrazing (and other anthropogenic threats) and will contribute to inform policy makers and stakeholders into improving the current management practices.

Other research area of interest


During my PhD I have been working on elucidating the pollination strategies of several deceptive orchid species. These are species which attract pollinators without offering any kind of rewards. Instead they imitate either other rewarding flowering plants (food-deception) or even female insects (sexual-deception). I would love to further pursue this research in the future; it would for example be highly interesting to see how deceptive species integrate into plant-pollinator networks. For this it may be worthwhile to integrate concepts already in use in food-webs into plant-pollinator networks.


A research topic which I also pursued during my PhD, but which has inspired my current interest in further integrating floral traits into plant-pollinator networks. During my PhD I strived to understand how pollinator-mediated selection has shaped the evolution of floral traits such as scent, colour and form in sexually deceptive orchids. I am currently collaborating on a few projects which investigate the evolution of floral traits (particularly scent and colour) in other deceptive orchids, such as the genera Neotinea, Traunsteinera and Ophrys.

Curriculum Vitae


May 2018 – current:

Postdoc in the Research Group Spatial Interaction Ecology (SIE), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH – UFZ, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.

June 2016 – June 2017:

Scientific collaborator for the project “The role of visual and olfactory signals in evolution of food-based floral mimicry”. Funding body: WTZ Czech Republic. Project coordinator: Doc. RNDr. Jana Jersáková PhD

May 2016 – May 2017:

Scientific collaborator for the project “Food deception or rendezvous attraction? Untangling the pollination strategy of the deceptive orchid Neotinea ustulata (Orchidaceae)”. Funding body: DAAD Germany. Project coordinator: Doc. RNDr. Jana Jersáková PhD.

June 2013 – September 2013:

Project coordinator for the project: “The pollination biology of three rare orchid species in Carinthia (Austria): Epipogium aphyllum, Malaxis monophyllos and Hammarbya paludosa“, financed by the Natural Science Society for Carinthia, Austria.

May2011 – May 2012:

Scientific collaborator (morphometry) at the Department for Evolutionary Biology, University Vienna under the supervision of Prof. Hannes Paulus.

1 June 2009 – 30 September 2010:

Scientific collaborator within the project: „Biotopmanagement FFH-Schmetterlingsarten“ (biotope management of FFH listed butterfly species), which was financed by the Carinthian government office Abt. 20 – land use planning, conservation – rural development in in the framework of the Austrian program for the development of the rural space 2007-2009, through the letter from the 15. January 2009, Number: -20-NSCH-323/8-2009.


March 2012 – December 2017:

PhD DEGREE at the: University Vienna, Faculty for Life Sciences, Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hannes F. Paulus (Department for Integrative Zoology). Thesis title: “Evolution and diversification of floral traits in the sexually-deceptive genus Ophrys (Orchidaceae): insights from the Eucera pollinated Ophrys tenthredinifera complex.”

October 2008 – June 2014

MASTER’S DEGREE at the: University Vienna, Faculty for Life Sciences, specialization Evolutionary Biology (A 066 829). „Orchids – Botanical Jewels of the Golfo Dulce Region, Costa Rica”.

October 2008 – October 2010:

MASTER’S DEGREE at the: „Babeş-Bolyai” University Cluj-Napoca (Romania), specialization: Systemic Ecology and Environment Protection. Thesis title: „Evidence for the adaptive character of the coloured perianth in the sexually deceptive orchid Ophrys heldreichii in relation to its pollinator (Eucera berlandi).”


2018 – present: 

Co-mentoring of 1 PhD, 1 Master student, 1 intern, as well as several research assistants (field work and laboratory).

2018 – 2019:

Summer school in pollination ecology, organized by the AG Spatial Interaction Ecology (SIE), German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Leipzig. Summer schools were held in Poland and the Czech Republic.

2017 – 2018:

Guest lecturer at the Faculty of Biology and Geology, University Babes-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Courses: Introduction to Ecology, Biodiversity (first semester).

2010 – 2012:

Tutor at the University Vienna (Institute for Biodiversity, Department for Evolutionary and Systematic Botany) for the following project practical’s: (300648-1) DNA markers and chromosomes in plant systematics and evolution. (300121-1) Molecular markers in population biology.

CONFERENCES (selected):

9 September - 13 September 2019:

The 7th International Orchid Conservation Congress, Royal Botanical Garden, Kew (UK). Presentation: P. Vitt, A. Taylor, H. Kreft, D. Rakosy, P. Weigelt, A. Meyer, T. M. Knight “First steps towards a global prioritization of Orchidaceae”.

28 May – 1 June 2019:

49th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Münster, Germany. Session and presentation: D. Rakosy, A. Nowak, V. Stefan, S. Swierszcz, E. Motivans, R. Feldmann, T. M. Knight. “The influence of management practices on plant-pollinator interactions in Central Europe - a case study”.

21 – 24 November 2018:

The 10th International Zoological Congress of the “Grigore Antipa” Museum. Poster: J. M. Bennett, A. Thompson, I. Goia, R. Feldmann, V. Stefan, A. Bogdan, D. Rakosy, M. Beloiu, I.-B. Biro, S. Bluemel, M. Filip, A.-M. Madaj, A. Martin, S. Passonneau, D.-P. Kalisch, G. Scherer, T. M. Knight. “Knowledge gaps in plant pollinator interactions and pollen supplementation experiments: a Romanian case study”.

29 May 2017:

Institute seminar, Institute of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, University Zürich. Invited speaker: “On the multifaceted nature of flowers: Patterns and drivers of floral trait variation in the sexually deceptive genus Ophrys”.

WORKSHOPS (selected):

12 – 13 September 2019:

2nd PolDiv Workshop. KUBUS, Helmholtz Zentrum für Umweltforschung – UFZ (in Cooperation with iDiv – German Centre of Integrative Biodiversity Research).

4 – 8 November 2018:

Advance course: Introduction to R. CIBIO-InBIO, Vairão, Portugal.

10 – 14 July 2017:

German-Romanian Summer School on Pollination Ecology organized by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig. Main topic: pollination networks.

5 – 6 April 2016:

Olfaction: sampling methods, GC-MS profiling and statistical analyses. Organizer: Behavioural Ecology Group, Institute of Biology, Leipzig University.

10 – 13 January 2012:

3D Geometric Morphometrics Workshop Barcelona (Spain).

11 – 14 July 2011:

Geometric Morphometrics Workshop Telč (Czech Republic).


17 June – 18 October 2020: 

Blüten(be)sucher: Beziehungsgeschichten aus der Natur (Flower seekers: relatioship stories from Nature). Exhibit at the Botanical Garden Leipzig (https://www.idiv.de/en/events/bluetenbesucher.html). 

2 December 2020: 

Dies academicus 2020. Presentation („Vernetzt: Warum sich Naturschutz nicht nur auf einzelne Arten konzentrieren sollte“).

Peer-reviewed Publications

Dunker S., Motivans E., Rakosy D., Boho D., Mäder P., Hornick T., Knight T. M. (2020). Pollen analysis using multispectral imaging flow cytometry and deep learning. New Phytologist. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.16882.

Rakosy L., Rakosy D. (2020). Xestia sextrigata (Haworth, 1809) (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae) a new species expanding into Romania. Entomologica romanica. 24: (in press).
Rakosy D., Paulus H. F., Hirth M. (2020). Ophrys dimidiata, eine neue, bisher unbeschriebene Art aus dem Ophrys tenthredinifera-Komplex auf Kreta (Orchidaceae). J. Eur. Orch. 52 (1): 207 – 226.

Joanne M Bennett, Amibeth Thompson, Irina Goia, Reinart Feldmann, Valentin Ştefan, Ana Bogdan, Demetra Rakosy, Mirela Beloiu, Inge-Beatrice Biro, Simon Bluemel, Milena Filip, Anna-Maria Madaj, Alina Martin, Sarah Passonneau, Denisa P Kalisch, Gwydion Scherer, Tiffany M Knight (2018). A review of European studies on pollination networks and pollen limitation, and a case study designed to fill in a gap, AoB PLANTS, Volume 10, Issue 6, December 2018, ply068, https://doi.org/10.1093/aobpla/ply068

Cuervo M, Rakosy D, Martel C, Schulz S, Ayasse M (2017). Sexual deception in the Eucera-pollinated Ophrys leochroma: a chemical intermediate between wasp- and Andrena-pollinated species. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 43(5): 469 – 479.

Rakosy, D., Cuervo, M., Paulus, H. F., Ayasse, M. (2017). Looks matter: changes in flower form affect pollination effectiveness in a sexually‐deceptive orchid. Journal of Evolutionary Biology (in press).

Rakosy D (2014). Zur Bestäubungsbiologie dreier seltener Orchideenarten in Kärnten: Epipogium aphyllum, Malaxis monophyllos und Hammarbya paludosa. Carinthia II 204/124: 589-618.

Rakosy D, Speckmaier M, Weber A, Huber W, Weissenhofer A (eds.) (2013). Orchids: Botanical Jewels of the Golfo Dulce Region, Costa Rica. Verein zur Förderung der Tropenstation La Gamba, University of Vienna.

Rakosy D, Spaethe J, Streinzer M, Paulus HF (2012). Floral colour signal increases reproductive success in a sexually deceptive orchid. Arthropod-Plant Interactions vol.6 (4): 671-681.

Rakosy D, Paulus HF (2010). Biology and phylogeny of the Ophrys tenthredinifera species group in Crete. In Harzhauser M, Piller WE (eds.): Systematics applied? NOBIS Tagung 4 Graz in Ber. Inst. Erdwissensch. Karl Franzens-Univ. Graz 15:38.

Rakosy D (2009). Observations on a population of Ophrys sphegodes MILL in Romania. Contribuţii Botanice, XLIV: 31-36.

Rakosy L, Rakosy D, Voda R (2009). Eisenburg-Natur und Kultur. Presa Universitara Cluj.