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.

Family in Gambia; Photo: Felicia Webb

Demographic transition does not stop human evolution

In many places around the world, people are living longer and are having fewer children. But that’s not all. In a study of people living in rural Gambia, it appears that this modern-day “demographic transition” may lead women to be taller and slimmer, too. Researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) as well as British, American and Gambian institutes and universities just published their discovery in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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Iberian lynx, most endangered wild cat species worldwide. Photo: IZW.

For the first time Iberian lynx embryos are collected and preserved: Another ray of hope for the most endangered cat species worldwide

A pioneering procedure in felines allows the collection of biological material from Iberian lynx females before castration. The preserved biological material of the lynxes will be used in future conservation breeding programmes.

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Wallabies give birth to very immature, almost embryonic, young that complete most of their development attached to the teat, usually within a pouch. Photo: Kathleen Röllig (IZW).

The climb to the pouch begins in utero

Scientists have visualised the short pregnancy of a small species of the kangaroo and wallaby family of marsupials, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), for the first time by high-resolution ultrasound. The study has shed light on a number of developmental events that are likely to be fundamental to all marsupials. These include a very rigid program of embryonic and fetal development with very little variation in pregnancy length, specialised movements of the endometrium that roll the embryo around the uterus prior to attachment, and climbing movements of the tiny fetus up to three days before birth. This latter finding is one of the earliest developmental behaviours observed in a
mammal and prepares the immature young for the journey to its mother’s pouch.

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Iberian lynx. Photo: IZW.

Cryopreservation – a chance for highly endangered mammals

Scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) succeeded in carrying out cryopreservation of felid ovary cortex.

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Bengalkatze mit ihrer Beute, fotografiert auf einem Forstwirtschaftsweg in Sabah, Malaysia. | Foto: Wilting & Mohamed, Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department.

Wirtschaftsweg statt Wildwechsel

Die Bengalkatze scheint sich in Nutzwäldern wohl zu fühlen: Sie kommt dort häufiger vor als in vollständig naturbelassenen Lebensräumen. Dies fanden Wissenschaftler unter der Leitung des Leibniz-Instituts für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW) in einer Studie heraus. Doch mit ihrer Fähigkeit, sich auch in gestörten Lebensräumen gut zurechtzufinden, ist die häufigste Katzenart Asiens eine Ausnahme unter den Raubtieren des tropischen Regenwaldes.

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