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The Leibniz-IZW is an internationally renowned German research institute. It is part of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. and a member of the Leibniz Association. Our goal is to understand the adaptability of wildlife in the context of global change and to contribute to the enhancement of the survival of viable wildlife populations. For this purpose, we investigate the diversity of life histories, the mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, as well as the interrelations of wildlife with their environment and people. We use expertise from biology and veterinary medicine in an interdisciplinary approach to conduct fundamental and applied research – from the molecular to the landscape level – in close dialogue with the public and stakeholders. Additionally, we are committed to unique and high-quality services for the scientific community.

+++ Current information on African swine fever: The Leibniz-IZW conducts research on the population dynamics, on models of disease outbreaks in wild boars and on the ecology and human-wildlife interaction in urban areas. African swine fever is a reportable disease in domestic swine and therefor is the purview of the respective federal state laboratories and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health) FLI. +++



Arctic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) with different coat condition. Photo: IZW.

You are what (and where) you eat – mercury pollution threatens Arctic foxes

New scientific results show that arctic foxes accumulate dangerous levels of mercury if they live in coastal habitats and feed on prey which lives in the ocean. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Moscow State University and the University of Iceland just published their discovery in the science online journal PLOS ONE.

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Stressed hyena twin siblings. Photo: IZW.

Competing for milk can be a stressful thing for hyena twin siblings

Researchers from the German Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) demonstrate for the first time in a free-ranging mammal that hunger and conflict for access to resources can be “stressful” for subordinate siblings and socially challenged dominant siblings, and hence increase their cost of maintaining homeostasis. These findings were published in the science journal Biology Letters.

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Family in Gambia; Photo: Felicia Webb

Demographic transition does not stop human evolution

In many places around the world, people are living longer and are having fewer children. But that’s not all. In a study of people living in rural Gambia, it appears that this modern-day “demographic transition” may lead women to be taller and slimmer, too. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) as well as British, American and Gambian institutes and universities just published their discovery in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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Iberian lynx, most endangered wild cat species worldwide. Photo: IZW.

For the first time Iberian lynx embryos are collected and preserved: Another ray of hope for the most endangered cat species worldwide

A pioneering procedure in felines allows the collection of biological material from Iberian lynx females before castration. The preserved biological material of the lynxes will be used in future conservation breeding programmes.

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Wallabies give birth to very immature, almost embryonic, young that complete most of their development attached to the teat, usually within a pouch. Photo: Kathleen Röllig (IZW).

The climb to the pouch begins in utero

Scientists have visualised the short pregnancy of a small species of the kangaroo and wallaby family of marsupials, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), for the first time by high-resolution ultrasound. The study has shed light on a number of developmental events that are likely to be fundamental to all marsupials. These include a very rigid program of embryonic and fetal development with very little variation in pregnancy length, specialised movements of the endometrium that roll the embryo around the uterus prior to attachment, and climbing movements of the tiny fetus up to three days before birth. This latter finding is one of the earliest developmental behaviours observed in a
mammal and prepares the immature young for the journey to its mother’s pouch.

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Iberian lynx. Photo: IZW.

Cryopreservation – a chance for highly endangered mammals

Scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) succeeded in carrying out cryopreservation of felid ovary cortex.

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Bengalkatze mit ihrer Beute, fotografiert auf einem Forstwirtschaftsweg in Sabah, Malaysia. | Foto: Wilting & Mohamed, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department.

Wirtschaftsweg statt Wildwechsel

Die Bengalkatze scheint sich in Nutzwäldern wohl zu fühlen: Sie kommt dort häufiger vor als in vollständig naturbelassenen Lebensräumen. Dies fanden Wissenschaftler unter der Leitung des Leibniz-Instituts für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW) in einer Studie heraus. Doch mit ihrer Fähigkeit, sich auch in gestörten Lebensräumen gut zurechtzufinden, ist die häufigste Katzenart Asiens eine Ausnahme unter den Raubtieren des tropischen Regenwaldes.

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Canine distemper virus of various wild species differs from the one of domestic dog population - which is more specialized. Photo: IZW.
Canine distemper virus of various wild species differs from the one of domestic dog population - which is more specialized. Photo: IZW.

Virus-host co-evolution: How specialised should a strain of a multi-host virus be?

A new study of canine distemper virus (CDV) provides the first evidence that the virus occurs as specialist strains that emerge in response to strong evolutionary selection in the large global domestic dog population, and as generalist strains adapted to infect a broad range of carnivore species that occur as smaller host populations. The study not only unravelled one key mechanism which led to the evolution of specialist and generalist strains, it also showed that specialising on one host species comes at the cost of a reduced ability to infect other host species.

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IZW in the media

Video by Vietnam TV, the national television broadcaster of Vietnam, about the field work of Leibniz-IZW and collaboration partners in Bidoup Nui Ba NP (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NX2HlG5Ar4).


19.04.2021 | ARD tagesschau24
WISSENSCHECK: Tierparks im Wandel

17.04.2021 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Artenschutz in Afrika - Stammtisch der Geparden

14.04.2021 | Greenpeace-Magazin
Dufte Katzenbars: Die Entdeckung von „Kommunikationshotspots“ könnte den Schutz der bedrohten Geparde voranbringen

07.04.2021 | Windkraft-Journal
Artenschutz an Windanlagen: Wie das akustische Monitoring zum Schutz der Biodiversität verbessert werden kann (und sollte)

05.04.2021 | ZDF Terra X
Die Sprache der Tiere

02.04.2021 | Berliner Zeitung
Berliner Forscher bitten zu Ostern zur Hasenjagd

02.04.2021 | Badische Zeitung
Dating in Hyänen-Kreisen: Was für ein Stress

31.03.2021 | Berlin.de
Hase oder doch Kaninchen? Berliner zum Zählen aufgerufen

31.03.2021 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Hase oder doch Kaninchen? Berliner zum Zählen aufgerufen

30.03.2021 | NABU Berlin
Auch der Osterhase ist ein (Ost-)Berliner - Berliner*innen sollen Feldhasen-Sichtungen in der Stadt melden

30.03.2021 | Horizon Magazine
The curious case of northeast Brazil’s cross-breeding sea turtles

25.03.2021 | Deutschlandfunk Kultur
Genomatlas für Artenschutz: Gen-Entschlüsselung könnte Artenvielfalt bewahren

25.03.2021 | The Guardian
Researchers find the secret of the bunny hop: it's all in the genes

25.03.2021 | The Guardian
Researchers find the secret of the bunny hop: it's all in the genes

25.03.2021 | MDR
Chemie in Greifvögeln: Pflanzenschutzmittel, Nagetiergift, Ibuprofen und Antibiotika

25.03.2021 | Die Linde
Schlagrisiko von Fledermäusen an Windkraftanlagen verringern

25.03.2021 | FOCUS
Rattengift bedroht Greifvögel

23.03.2021 | Berliner Zeitung
Chemikalien vergiften Greifvögel in Deutschland – und Habichte in Berlin

12.01.2021 | arte
Wie gefährlich sind Zoonosen für den Menschen?

09.12.2020 | rbb Inforadio
Geparden in Namibia: "Ein Szeneclub wie in einer Großstadt"

29.11.2020 | U.S. News
'D-Day' for Pakistan's Lonely Elephant as Handlers Prepare Airlift to Cambodia

24.11.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Vogelgrippe-Alarm an der Küste

10.11.2020 | Deutschlandfunk Kultur, Kakadu
Hilfe für Fledermäuse. Was können wir für Fledermäuse tun?

01.11.2020 | Scientific American