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. +++
Both seasonal migration and the maintenance and use of an effective immune system come with substantial metabolic costs and are responsible for high levels of oxidative stress. How do animals cope in a situation when energy is limited and both costly body functions are needed? A team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) investigated whether and how the immune response changes between pre-migration and migration seasons in the Nathusius pipistrelle bat. They confirmed that migratory bats favour the energetically “cheaper” non-cellular (humoral) immunity during an immune challenge and selectively suppress cellular immune responses. Thereby, bats save energy much needed for their annual migration. The results are published in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”.
The species richness of zoo and wild animals is reflected in the diversity of infectious agents they harbour. However, our knowledge is sparse and pathogen detection remains challenging. For streptococci, a bacterial family of importance to human and animal health, wildlife research has taken a step forward: A research team led by Kristin Mühldorfer from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and Tobias Eisenberg from the Hessian State Laboratory investigated the causes of severe respiratory disease in peccaries and taxonomically characterised a novel Streptococcusspecies (Streptococcus catagoni sp. nov.) based on its phenotypic properties and genetic features. The results, published in the „International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology“, contribute to a better understanding and reliable identification of this novel bacterial species.
Scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) together with colleagues representing 39 institutions from 17 EU countries have called upon the European Commission to support genomics research as part of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 in the upcoming Horizon Europe programme. The group proposes to the EU to provide competitive funding for sequencing the genomes of all animals, plants, and microorganisms in Europe (at least 200,000 species) in a Pan-European collaborative effort tentatively named European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA). This urgent call is intended to foster better understanding, management and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Scientists, politicians and interested citizens are invited to add their names as signatories to the list in support of ERGA at https://vertebrategenomesproject.org/erga.
The "German Conservation Research Project – Iberian Lynx" of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) was awarded yesterday the prize of being an official project of the UN Decade of Biodiversity. Prof Christine Wrenzycki (University of Gießen) presented the award. Wrenzycki is deputy chairperson of the scientific advisory board of the Leibniz-IZW. The award is given to exemplary projects that are particularly committed to the conservation of biological diversity.
Many animal species are currently changing their distribution range owing to global warming. The underlying mechanisms are still little known, especially in mammals. An international team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now demonstrated that in the common noctule bat, one of the largest European bat species, the colonization of hibernacula progresses from lower to higher latitudes over successive generations of young animals – especially first-year males. Because of their relatively high reproduction rate and the long-distance dispersal of male juveniles, it is probably relatively easy for common noctules to adjust to global warming. For species with lower reproduction rates and a limited migratory potential of the young – the majority of European bat species – the future might not look as favourable when facing continuing global warming. The paper was published in the scientific journal "Biology Letters".
After a hiatus of a few months owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the international team of scientists and conservationists continued its ambitious programme to save the northern white rhino from extinction: On August 18, 2020 they harvested ten eggs from the last remaining two individuals, Najin and Fatu, in the third-ever ovum pickup procedure in northern white rhinos, at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. With great support from the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, the team from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo & Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and Czech Safari Park Dvůr Králové overcame substantial challenges to perform this important procedure in such critical times. Preparations for the next steps in the programme – the generation and transfer of embryos – are underway, ensuring that everything is done to make the best possible progress to save the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction.
When exactly is a rhino offspring born? How long does the birth actually take? Does parturition proceed normally? Answers to these and similar questions are difficult for experts in zoological gardens, since baseline knowledge of the reproduction cycle of all rhinoceros species, especially its final stage, the parturition, is scarce. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) together with zoo veterinarians closely monitored 19 pregnant white rhinos in six European zoos and recorded timelines for pre-birth development, milk production, hormone levels, gestation length and documented the onset of parturition, different stages of labour and foetal position at birth. These data significantly improves the knowledge base for birth management and obstetrics in rhinos and will help to reduce the number of stillbirths or perinatal problems in zoological gardens. The results are published in the scientific journal “Theriogenology”.
Calling in the ultrasonic range enables small bats to orient themselves in the dark and track down tiny insects. Louder calls travel farther, improving a bat’s ability to detect their prey. It was long assumed that echolocation does not contribute much to energy expenditure in flight because individuals simply couple their calls with the beat of their wings. Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin have now shown in a paper in the scientific journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” that high intensity echolocation calls are by no means free and substantially contribute to energy expenditure. Bats must therefore find a balance between energy expenditure and effective echolocation and use the latter economically.