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.

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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Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)
Jackals feeding on waterfowl in Namibia (Photo: Gábor Czirják)

Eating the flu: diet may be an important factor for Influenza A virus exposure in wild African mammals

Given the importance and wide distribution of Influenza A viruses, it is surprising how little is known about infections of wild mammals. A new study led by Alex D. Greenwood and Gábor Á. Czirják of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin sheds light on which species are commonly infected and why. The scientists detected virus exposure among wild African mammals in Namibia and demonstrated that the most important factor for influenza A virus diversity and prevalence is a diet containing birds. Species relationship or sociality play surprisingly small roles. The results have been published in “The Journal of Infectious Diseases”.

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Hedgehog in Berlin (Photo: Juliane Seet)
Hedgehog in Berlin (Photo: Juliane Seet)

Prickly neighborhood: A team of scientists provided first evidence of diphtheria-like infectious agent in hedgehogs

As cultural successors, hedgehogs reside in close proximity to humans. Close contacts, however, are not only beneficial but also bear risks for animals and humans. Road traffic, lawn mowers and infectious agents threaten the prickly insect eaters. Some infectious agents can be transmitted to humans. Considerate treatment of wildlife and appropriate hygiene measures minimize the risk of infection, though. A recent study, initiated by the National Consiliary Laboratory for Diphtheria (CL-Diphtheria) in Germany and conducted in close collaboration of five federal state laboratories and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), identified Corynebacterium ulcerans - a close relative of the diphtheria causing bacterium - in hedgehogs. The study is published in „Emerging Microbes & Infections“.

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