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.

Bats emerging from a cave in Thailand, Author: CC Voigt / Leibniz-IZW
Bats emerging from a cave in Thailand, Author: CC Voigt / Leibniz-IZW

Above us only sky – the open air as an underappreciated habitat

Numerous bat species hunt and migrate at great altitudes. Yet the open sky had, until recently, not been on the radar of conservation scientists as a habitat relevant to a large variety of species. Christian Voigt and colleagues from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin have collated the current scientific knowledge on potential hazards to one group of animals flying at high altitudes, bats. In their recent article published in BioScience the authors synthesise threats facing bats in troposphere and provide recommendations for potential protective measures to ensure persistence of bats and other high-flying animals.

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Przewalski horse Autor: Kustanay
Przewalski horse Autor: Kustanay

Przewalski’s Horse is a Feral Domestic Horse

Przewalski’s horses were thought to be the last wild species of horse. A recent international study led by Professor Ludovic Orlando, involving the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), has upended that theory. The study, published in the journal “Science“, changes our point of view about domestic horse origins. Based on their archaeological and genetic investigations, the researchers were able to prove that Przewalski’s horse is descended from once-domesticated stock. Some of the horses from the domesticated herds escaped and became the ancestors of all present-day Przewalski’s horse populations. A second horse species existing at that time replaced Przewalski’s horses as domestic horses, establishing the lineage from which all modern domestic horses descend.

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Author: Leibniz-IZW
Author: Leibniz-IZW

Leopard meals: females go for diversity

Female leopards have a much wider spectrum of prey species than males.

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Fitting a GPS-collar and collecting blood from an immobilised cheetah in Namibia. Copyright: Bettina Wachter/Leibniz-IZW
Fitting a GPS-collar and collecting blood from an immobilised cheetah in Namibia. Copyright: Bettina Wachter/Leibniz-IZW

Citizen Science as a concept for success in wildlife biology

Reliability of data and motivation of citizens are the factors of success                                                         

The involvement of citizens in research projects is booming. Citizen scientists allow professional scientists to work with much larger data sets than in the past and thus help in achieving better research results. However, for a successful collaboration it is critical that the quality of submitted data is ensured and the motivation of citizens is maintained over a long time period. This is the conclusion of an international team of scientists with the participation of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and the lead of the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle for Behaviour and Cognition of the University of Vienna. The team presents four case studies in the field of wildlife biology in the scientific journal “Ethology”.

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Thomas Hildebrandt, Author: tedxtum
Thomas Hildebrandt, Author: tedxtum

Loss of a Species – A Giant, Extinct.

tedxtum.com Thomas Hildebrandt

What happens when an animal species goes extinct? Is it due to the natural path of evolution, or the thoughtless actions of humankind? Less than a century ago, hundreds of thousands of northern white rhinos roamed the landscape of Central Africa. Today, there are only three individuals left. Prof. Hildebrandt has made it his mission to save the most endangered mammal species on Earth. Together with his team, he travels around the world to perform incredible work in the area of conservation science, which sometimes requires extreme and dangerous procedures when dealing with animals like rhinos and elephants.

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