Welcome to the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research!

Willkommen am Leibniz-Institut für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW)! Deutsche Version der IZW-Webseite.

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to developing the scientific basis for novel approaches to wildlife conservation.

In the current era of the Anthropocene, virtually all ecosystems in the world are subjected to man-made impacts. As yet, it is not possible to predict the response of wildlife to the ever-increasing global change. Why are some wildlife species threatened by anthropogenic change, while others persist or even thrive in modified, degenerated or novel habitats?

To answer this and related questions, the IZW conducts basic and applied research across different scientific disciplines. We study the diversity of life histories and evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, of free-ranging and captive wildlife species, and their interactions with people and their environment in Germany, Europe and worldwide.

The IZW is a member of the Leibniz Association and the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

Photo: Iberian lynx; Ex-situ Iberian lynx program
Photo: Iberian lynx; Ex-situ Iberian lynx program

Preservation of testicular cells to save endangered feline species

A research team at the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) developed a method to isolate and cryopreserve testicular cells. This will allow the safekeeping and biobanking of gametes and other cells of the male reproductive tract of threatened or endangered feline species. The findings have been published in the scientific journal "Cryobiology".

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Common noctule bat (Photo: Kamran Safi, wikimedia commons)
Common noctule bat (Photo: Kamran Safi, wikimedia commons)

Bats depend on conspecifics when hunting above farmland

Common noctules – one of the largest bat species native to Germany – are searching for their fellows during their hunt for insects above farmland. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) show in a paper published in the journal “Oikos” that bats forage on their own in insect-rich forests, but hunt collectively in groups over insect-poor farmland. They seem to zoom in on places where conspecifics emit echolocations during the capture of insects, an inadvertent clue that reveals high-yielding areas to others. However, “listening” to their hunting companions to find food only works when sufficient numbers of bats forage in the same area. If numbers continue to decline, density could fall below a critical level and joint hunting could become difficult or impossible. This could pose an additional threat to the survival of species such as the Common noctule.

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Detail of cheetah fur, Photo: Jan Zwilling

Information about Coronavirus SARS CoV-2/Covid-19

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is spreading enormously fast internationally and nationally and has been classified as a global pandemic by the WHO.

So far, the source and intermediate hosts of the virus have not been clearly identified. To date, the reservoir for the first coronavirus SARS-CoV-1, which was responsible for the SARS epidemic in 2002/03, has also not been identified.

Recently, Chinese scientists found that the novel coronavirus is related to coronaviruses found in five wildlife species living in Asia, including the masked palm civet (Paguma larvata), Asian palm civet,  (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus), Asian civet cat (Viverra sp) and horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus spp). The results of the investigations show that the virus in the five animal species is not the same coronavirus that was transmitted to humans. The Java horseshoe bat has the greatest genetic similarity with 96.2 % of the DNA nucleotides. These results do not mean that SARS-CoV-2 originates from these wild animals.

In Germany, no comparatively high matches with the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been found in domestic wildlife so far. Also, no transmission of the new virus to pets such as cats, dogs, etc. has been proven so far. It is known that so-called feline and canine corona viruses occur in cats and dogs. These are harmless to humans. The Friedrich-Loeffler Institute can provide you with further information (https://www.fli.de/de/home/).

 

Literature source:

Genetic evolution analysis of 2019 novel coronavirus and coronavirus from other species: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1567134820301167


FAQs Robert Koch Institut (RKI)

FAQs Friedrich -Loeffler-Institut (FLI)

 

 

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Detail of cheetah fur, Photo: Jan Zwilling
Detail of cheetah fur, Photo: Jan Zwilling

Hair in “stress”: analyse with care

Similar to humans, wild animals’ reaction to disturbance is accompanied by releasing hormones, such as cortisol. To understand the impact of various “stress” factors – for example competition for food, encounters with predators, or changing environmental conditions – on wildlife, scientists first need to determine the baseline levels of relevant hormones for each species. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now uncovered possible pitfalls of the commonly used hormone analysis method that overestimate concentrations of cortisol and thus lead to overstated conclusions. They investigated whether glucocortiocoid hormones deposited in animal hair can be reliable biomarkers to indicate the impact of disturbances. The source of errors in the commonly used antibody-based enzyme immunoassays (EIA) method is described in a recently published article in the scientific journal “Conservation Physiology”.

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Naked mole rat at Leibniz-IZW, Photo: Jan Zwilling
Naked mole rat at Leibniz-IZW, Photo: Jan Zwilling

Newly confirmed biochemical mechanism in mouse, bat and naked mole rat cells is a key component of the anti-ageing program

Ageing is an inevitable part of life, yet some species are ageing very differently than others, even than very similar ones. Naked mole rats for example, an east African rodent of a size comparable to moles or mice, show a strongly delayed process of ageing and live up to 30 years. Scientists from Russia, Germany and Switzerland now confirmed a mechanism in mouse, bat and naked mole rat cells – a “mild depolarization” of the inner mitochondrial membrane – that is linked to ageing: Mild depolarization regulates the creation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (mROS) in cells and is therefore a mechanism of the anti-ageing program. In mice, this mechanism falls apart at the age of 1 year, while in naked mole rats this does not occur until ages of up to 20 years. This newly confirmed mechanism is described in detail in a paper published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA”.

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