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.

Handling cheetah, Author: Wachter / Leibniz-IZW

How cheetahs stay fit and healthy

Cheetahs are categorised as vulnerable species, partly because they have been considered to be prone to diseases due to their supposed weak immune system. However, they are hardly ever sick in the wild. A research team from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) recently discovered that cheetahs have developed a very efficient innate “first line of defence” immunity to compensate potential deficiencies in other components of their immune system. The scientists have published their results in the open access journal “Scientific Reports” of the Nature Publishing Group.

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ovum pick up southern white rhino, Author: Leibniz-IZW

The Northern White Rhino – Advanced Reproductive Technologies Provide a Realistic Chance for Saving the Critically Endangered Species

In early March, Dvůr Králové Zoo, Czech Republic, hosted a meeting of the European Northern White Rhino Working Group. The international experts aim at saving the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction. With the three last individuals incapable of natural breeding, it is the most endangered mammal at present. The meeting in Dvůr Králové proved that collection of eggs, known as ovum pick-up (OPU), from the last two females can be conducted in the foreseeable future. The advanced OPU technique was developed for these large (two tons) creatures in the past two years in the closely related southern white rhino. Gamete collection was combined with advanced in-vitro egg maturation and fertilisation protocols.

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Sabah Rhino (Dicerorhinus_sumatrensis harrisoni) Autor: Jastram/IZW
Sabah Rhino (Dicerorhinus_sumatrensis harrisoni) Autor: Jastram/IZW

Vaccination stops tumor growth in rhinoceros

Female rhinoceros often suffer from vaginal or uterus tumors, which complicate the production of offspring. For the first time, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin and the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna succeeded in stopping the growth and regeneration of innocuous tumors via vaccination. The treatment was successfully conducted in southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum) and greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). Injecting the serum “Improvac“ influences the release of sexual hormones, which causes the female oestrous cycle to cease and thereby reduces hormone-dependent tumors. These results have been published in the scientific open access journal PLOS ONE.

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Head of a tapeworm Taenia sp. Picture: I. Lesniak/Leibniz-IZW
Head of a tapeworm Taenia sp. Picture: I. Lesniak/Leibniz-IZW

A wolf’s stowaways

Since the year 2000, the Eurasian grey wolf, Canis lupus lupus, has spread across Germany. For Ines Lesniak, doctoral student at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), and her colleagues, a good reason to have a closer look at the small “occupants” of this returnee and to ask the question whether the number and species of parasites change with an increasing wolf population. This was the case, because the number of parasite species per individual wolf increased as the wolf population expanded. Furthermore, cubs had a higher diversity of parasite species than older animals. The good news: wolf parasites do not pose a threat to human health. The results of this study were published in the scientific online journal “Scientific Reports” of the Nature Publishing Group.

 

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Asian golden cat. (C) WWF-Malaysia/Azlan Mohamed
Asian golden cat. (C) WWF-Malaysia/Azlan Mohamed

Closely related yet so different - two felid cousins responded in the past very differently to climate change

Southeast Asia is home to numerous felids, including the Asian golden cat and the bay cat. The two cat species are closely related sister species which split from each other 3.16 million years ago. Yet, their more recent history was quite different.  

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