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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. +++

News

 

Bache mit Frischlingen. Foto David Wiemer
Bache mit Frischlingen. Foto David Wiemer

Single event or epidemic? Mating behaviour and movement patterns influence the dynamics of animal diseases

Swine fever, rabies, bird flu – outbreaks of diseases in wildlife populations often also affect farm animals and humans. However, their causes and the dynamics of their spread are often complex and not well understood. A team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now carried out an analysis of long-term data of an outbreak of classical swine fever in wild boars in the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern that occurred between 1993 and 2000. The results suggest that non-infected regions have a higher risk of infection due to changes in movement patterns, particularly during the mast and rutting seasons (autumn and winter), and thus highlighting the importance  for  focusing intervention  efforts on specific individuals, seasons and areas in the event of future outbreaks. The findings are published in the “Journal of Animal Ecology”.

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Great tit (Parus major); Copyright: Bernard Castelein
Great tit (Parus major); Copyright: Bernard Castelein

Climate changes faster than animals adapt

Climate change can threaten species and extinctions can impact ecosystem health. It is therefore of vital importance to assess to which degree animals can respond to changing environmental conditions – for example by shifting the timing of breeding – and whether these shifts enable the persistence of populations in the long run. To answer these questions an international team of 64 researchers led by Viktoriia Radchuk, Alexandre Courtiol and Stephanie Kramer-Schadt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) evaluated more than 10,000 published scientific studies. The results of their analysis are worrisome: Although animals do commonly respond to climate change, such responses are in general insufficient to cope with the rapid pace of rising temperatures and sometimes go in wrong directions. The results are published in the scientific journal “Nature Communications”.

 

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Cheetah in Planckendael Zoo (The Netherlands). Photo: Ad Meskens (Wikimedia Commons)
Cheetah in Planckendael Zoo (The Netherlands). Photo: Ad Meskens (Wikimedia Commons)

Early first pregnancy is the key to successful reproduction of cheetahs in zoos

Cheetah experts in many zoos around the world are at a loss. Despite all their efforts, these cats often do not reproduce in the desired manner. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), together with colleagues from the Allwetterzoo Münster, have now found a key to the issue: the age of the mothers at the first pregnancy is the decisive factor. In contrast to the wild, felines kept in zoos are often bred only years after they have reached sexual maturity. From the study results, the researchers derive recommendations for keeping cheetahs in zoological gardens. The study was published in the journal "Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research".

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Najin and Fatu, the last two remaining Northern White Rhinoceroses. Photo: Jan Stejskal
Najin and Fatu, the last two remaining Northern White Rhinoceroses. Photo: Jan Stejskal

Last chance for the Northern White Rhinoceros: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research supports high tech for conservation with the BioRescue project

Today the research project BioRescue for the rescue of the Northern White Rhino, which is threatened with extinction, is officially launched. State-of-the-art reproduction and stem cell technology shall ensure the survival of this key species. The international scientific consortium, led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and with the significant participation of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MCD), is receiving around 4 million Euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the BMBF's biodiversity conservation research initiative. With the successful transfer of an embryo into the uterus of a Southern white rhinoceros at the end of May 2019, the research team has already reached an important milestone. The ethical and social questions arising from BioRescue will be addressed by the scientists in an accompanying research project.

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Camera trap photo of a Caucasian Lynx. Photo: Deniz Mengüllüoglu, Nurten Salikara
Camera trap photo of a Caucasian Lynx. Photo: Deniz Mengüllüoglu, Nurten Salikara

Noninvasive techniques help clarify conservation relevant aspects of population structure and organization in the Caucasian lynx in Turkey

Little is known about the biology and the genetic status of the Caucasian Lynx (Lynx lynx dinniki), a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx distributed across portions of Turkey, the Caucasus region and Iran. To collect baseline genetic, ecological, and behavioural data and assist future conservation efforts, a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) collected data and samples in a region of Anatolian Turkey over several years. They were particularly interested in the question whether non-invasive samples (faeces, hair) were helpful to discern genetic diversity of the study population. The results of the genetic analyses indicated an unexpectedly high genetic diversity and lack of inbreeding despite the recent isolation of the study population, a result that would not have been obtained with the use of conventional samples. The data also revealed that females stay near home ranges in which they were born whereas males disperse after separation from their mothers. These insights into the genetics and behaviour of the Caucasian Lynx are published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

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Soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Photo: Christian Giese
Soprano pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus), Photo: Christian Giese

Mirror experiment proves that compass orientation of a migratory bat species depends on sunset direction

Whether it is bats, wildebeest or whales, millions of mammals move over thousands of kilometres each year. How they navigate during migration remains remarkably understudied compared to birds or sea turtles, however. A team of scientists led by the Leibniz-IZW in Berlin now combined a mirror experiment simulating a different direction of the setting sun and a new test procedure to measure orientation behaviour in bats to understand the role of the sun’s position in the animals’ navigation system. The results demonstrate for the first time that a migratory mammal species uses the sunset direction to calibrate their compass system. Furthermore the experiment, which is published in “Current Biology”, indicates that this capacity is not inherited and first-time migrating young bats need to learn the importance of the solar disc at dusk for nightly orientation.

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Pipistrellus nathusii; Christian Giese
Pipistrellus nathusii; Christian Giese

A complex relationship: How light from street lamps and trees influence the activity of urban bats

Berlin, 27.03.2019

Artificial light is rightly considered a major social, cultural and economic achievement. Yet, artificial light at night is also said to pose a threat to biodiversity, especially affecting nocturnal species in metropolitan areas. It has become clear that the response by wildlife to artificial light at night might vary across species, seasons and lamp types. A study conducted by a team led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) sheds new light on how exactly ultraviolet (UV)  emitting and non-UV emitting street lamps influence the activity of bats in the Berlin metropolitan area and whether tree cover might mitigate any effect of light pollution. The study is published in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution”.

 

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Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)
RFF received Certificate of Apprecation; Sabah Forestry Department

Back to Nature: for the first time palm oil plantations are being turned back into protected rainforest – this creates a corridor for Borneo’s endangered wildlife

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 21.03.2019

Scientists in collaboration with Borneo‘s forestry authorities want to turn palm oil plantations into rainforests. Lessons learned from this project can then be used as a blueprint for future reforestation projects. The pilot project will be led by the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF). At the Heart-of-Borneo- Conference, the RFF will receive an award from the Malaysian government of Sabah for its achievements to date.

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IZW in the media

BBC video on the Northern White Rhino Rescue reaches more than 1,3 million views on youtube and more than 9,5 million views on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2685812534841992).

 

02.09.2020 | The Independent
Covid deals a blow to saving critically endangered Northern White rhino

24.08.2020 | Radio1
Naturschutz: Fledermäuse suchen Winterquartiere

23.08.2020 | Volksstimme
Grottenolme: Hoffnung auf Nachwuchs

23.08.2020 | BILD am Sonntag
Neue Hoffnung für die letzten Nashörner | Wissenschaftler konnten Eizellen von Nördlichen Breitmaulnashörnern entnehmen

22.08.2020 | Radio1
Wildtoxikologie: Bleimunition tötet jährlich tausende Vögel

18.08.2020 | abcNEWS
More eggs harvested from last 2 northern white rhinos

18.08.2020 | SWIswissinfo
Scientists harvest more eggs from near-extinct northern white rhino

18.08.2020 | Tagesspiegel
Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit, da alle Eichhörnchen geschätzt werden sollten

15.08.2020 | rbb Fernsehen
rbb Wissenszeit: Fledermäuse - Heimliche Wanderer

12.08.2020 | Leibniz-Magazin
Grünes Dilemma - Abertausende Fledermäuse sterben jedes Jahr an deutschen Windrädern. Und zeigen: Wenn Klima- und Artenschutz in Konflikt geraten, wird es kompliziert.

10.08.2020 | Berliner Zeitung
Touristen stressen Seeadler

09.08.2020 | SkyNews
Scientists try to create first rhino test tube baby to save near-extinct species

17.07.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Antiheld aus der Grotte

16.07.2020 | Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland
Neue Pandemien durch Wildtiere? Experte warnt vor Umweltzerstörung

11.07.2020 | Spiegel Online
Tierkrankheiten beim Menschen - "Auch die nächste Pandemie wird uns kalt erwischen"

06.07.2020 | Mongabay
For two rhino species on brink of extinction, it’s collaboration vs. stonewalling

03.07.2020 | Spiegel Online
Clans im Matriarchat - Das wundersame Sozialverhalten der Tüpfelhyänen

30.06.2020 | Spiegel Online
Nashorn-Rettungsversuch: Sie sind die letzten ihrer Art

27.06.2020 | stern
Was tun, wenn es nur noch Weibchen gibt?

25.06.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Wegen Paarung mit Hund abgeschossene Wölfin nicht trächtig

25.06.2020 | Deutschlandfunk Kultur
Der Fuchs: Was den scheuen Räuber so faszinierend macht

22.06.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Naturschutz: Wird bleihaltige Jagdmunition endlich verboten?

22.06.2020 | Berliner Zeitung
Forscher warnen vor Hexenjagd auf Fledermäuse wegen Corona

18.06.2020 | BILD
Rettung für die Nashörner, Serengeti Park bei Projekt dabei

17.06.2020 | ScienceDaily
Oocyte collection and embryo creation in southern white rhinos

17.06.2020 | Phys.Org
Researchers perform southern white rhino oocyte collection and embryo creation

16.06.2020 | RTL
Vom Aussterben bedroht: Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen hilft bei Rettung der Breitmaulnashörner

17.06.2020 | Stuttgarter Zeitung
Fledermäuse in den Fängen von Windrädern

16.06.2020 | la Repubblica
Rinoceronte bianco del nord, nuove speranze di salvarlo dall'estinzione

13.06.2020 | Radio1
Berliner Füchse verlassen die Stadt nicht

06.06.2020 | Radio1
Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften - Die Koexistenz von Mensch und Tier

06.06.2020 | Volksstimme
Grottenolme - Weltsensation aus Rübeland

05.06.2020 | Bayrischer Rundfunk
Rangordnung im Tierreich - Auf deinen Platz!

05.06.2020 | Berliner Zeitung
Berliner Füchse haben keine Lust auf Brandenburg

29.05.2020 | The Hindu
In the wake of unverified rumours linking bats to the novel coronavirus, bats have suddenly emerged as villains

25.05.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Fledermaus-Angst: »Das ist eine regelrechte Hexenjagd«

23.05.2020 | Focus
Nashorn aus der Dose

15.05.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Der Wolf hätte fast überall Platz

25.04.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Tiere: Forschung zur Rettung von Nashorn-Unterart "auf Eis"

20.04.2020 | New York Times
When Crocodiles Once Dived Like Dolphins and Whales

20.04.2020 | The Guardian
Ancient ocean-going crocodiles mimicked whales and dolphins

14.04.2020 | BBC
Northern white rhinos: The audacious plan that could save a species

14.04.2020 | La Repubblica
Kenya, un laboratorio italiano salverà il rinoceronte bianco

13.03.2020 | La Stampa
Le Wallaby della palude possono essere incinte tutta la vita

11.03.2020 | Fox News
This adorable animal spends its entire adult life pregnant

03.03.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Biologie: Wallaby-Kängurus können doppelt trächtig werden

02.03.2020 | The New York Times
This Mom Is Still Pregnant. But She’s Already Having Another Baby

02.03.2020 | Smithsonian Magazine
Swamp Wallabies Can Get Pregnant While Pregnant

02.03.2020 | National Geographic
This marsupial is the only animal that's always pregnant

21.02.2020 | ZDF
planet e.: Artenschutz extrem - Erhalt um jeden Preis?