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.

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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