Departments & units at the Leibniz-IZW

The Leibniz-IZW consists of six research departments delineated by specific disciplinary, conceptual, methodological and thematic fields of competences and research foci. This fosters excellent research on a wide range of scientific questions of evolutionary wildlife research for conservation from the molecular to the landscape level.

Department of Evolutionary Ecology

The focus of this department is to evaluate the adaptability of free-ranging wildlife populations to environmental changes such as land use and climate change. The department uses hypotheses embedded in evolutionary theory to investigate the influence of social, ecological and anthropogenic environments on the behaviour, physiology, survival and reproductive success of wildlife species.

Department of Evolutionary Genetics

This department elucidates how past conditions have shaped current mammalian diversity and how that diversity may change in decades to come. Four facets of mammalian evolutionary diversity are the focus: adaptive genetic variation, neutral genetic variation, epigenetic variation, and life-history variation.

Department of Wildlife Diseases

Work in this department addresses the evolutionary, ecological and anthropogenic factors which drive pathogen adaptation and host responses to wildlife diseases. The department studies diseases relevant to free-ranging and captive wildlife, distinguishing species-specific factors from general principles of infection biology.

Department of Reproduction Biology

The main focus of this department is to understand the evolution of reproductive traits and the impact of environmental factors on fertility. The department investigates the generation and maturation of germ cells, their functional interactions in the male and female genital tract as well as the endocrine regulation of reproductive processes.

Department of Reproduction Management

This department investigates reproductive strategies and human-induced reproductive disorders in wildlife. The department develops new conservation strategies, including advanced assisted reproduction technologies and stem cell associated techniques. These research activities are interlinked with animal welfare and ethical research.

Department of Ecological Dynamics

Research in this department elucidates ecological dynamics in space and time and across gradients of human-altered environments. It uses spatio-temporal extrapolation and spatially-explicit dynamic modelling to understand and better forecast wildlife responses to challenges at the population and community level. The department was established in January 2018 to strengthen ecological modelling, including simulation and biostatistics, in line with a key recommendation of the previous evaluation. 

In addition to the work in the six research departments Leibniz-IZW scientists conduct research in two additional independent units:

Junior Professorship of Ecology and Evolution of Molecular Host-Parasite Interactions

Work in the JunProf’s group, which was established in 2014, combines evolutionary questions with mechanistic aspects of the interaction between parasites and their hosts. For this purpose, the group is investigating the hybrid zone of two subspecies of the house mouse as a model system for coevolution and local adaptation.

Field Research Station Niederfinow

One focus of the Leibniz-IZW is on research into the biology and adaptability of native wild animals. Therefore, a field research station was founded in Niederfinow, Brandenburg, in 1993. Here, projects are carried out on life course strategies and conflicts, reproductive biology, nutritional physiology and the behaviour of European wildlife under near-natural but controlled conditions.