Completed citizen science projects

The Leibniz-IZW started already in 2011 to involve citizens in scientific projects and has since then continuously developed citizen science as a strategic instrument for knowledge transfer. The following projects in which citizens could participate have already been successfully completed.

Portal Beee - Recognizing, researching, preserving biodiversity (2011-2016)

Communication platform of the Interdisciplinary Research Network Biodiversity (Interdisziplinärer Forschungsverbund, IFV)

Duration time of Portal Beee: 06/2013-12/2016

Funded by: Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research

The communication platform Portal Beee was established as an interface between science and society and offered committed citizens the opportunity to obtain information on current and planned Citizen Science projects at Leibniz-IZW and other institutions in Berlin and Brandenburg and to participate in scientific projects. Citizens were able to report sightings and behavioural observations of wild animals such as wild boars, foxes and hedgehogs in Berlin and Brandenburg and thus contribute to understanding the way of life and the adaptation strategies of wild animals in the city. Furthermore, the project was particularly aiming to create understanding and awareness of biodiversity in society.

On 24th October 2015, Portal Beee was designated an official project of the "UN Decade of Biodiversity" and was consolidated in 2016 by the joint project “Bridging in Biodiversity Science (BIBS)” – funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) – which aims at researching and promoting biodiversity.

Ecology of wild boar (Sus scrofa) in urban habitats (2011-2017)

Duration: 2011-2017
Data collection: 2012-2015

The aim of this project was to develop the most comprehensive statements possible on the specific ecology of the wild boar in Berlin as a model city. The hypothesis that Berlin represents an attractive habitat that attracts wild boar from the surrounding area was examined.

In order to test the hypothesis, first of all sighting reports from citizens were collected. On the basis of this information wild boars were caught and equipped with telemetry transmitters in order to investigate the use of space and habitat. In addition, samples of animals shot during hunting were collected in order to carry out analyses on the following topics: genetics, life cycle strategies (litter size, reproduction patterns etc.), food ecology, health status and stress. In order to be able to check the stress level, a reference curve for stress detection in wild boar was established in a validation study.

In the genetic studies, 387 samples from Berlin and Brandenburg were used to find out that Berlin has three subpopulations (Tegel, Grunewald and Köpenick). These can be genetically distinguished from the wild boars in Brandenburg. The wild boars in Pankow form a unit with the Brandenburg pigs. It could also be shown that the occurrence of the Tegel area must have originated from the occurrence of the Grunewald wild boars. The pigs that were detected in the central areas of Berlin came above average directly from Brandenburg and not from the suburban areas of the city.

The results of the food-ecological investigations - in total, the content of 247 stomachs were analysed - showed that wild boars in Berlin feed predominantly on natural food (for example tree fattening). Food components of anthropogenic origin were found in only four stomachs.

The investigations of land use (13 animals with transmitters) indicated individual adaptations to the urban area. The animals know which disturbances are actually dangerous for them and which are not. In this context, they have a significantly reduced escape distance and do not avoid human proximity, unlike the animals in the countryside. On the contrary, some of them are even actively searching. Thus, it had to be proven that they prefer to set up resting places near busy roads to avoid free running dogs.

All analyses were carried out both within the city as well as in the periphery and in rural areas in order to understand the behaviour of wild boars along the urban gradient. The results should lead to management recommendations and help to solve current conflicts between humans and wildlife.


Stillfried M, Gras P, Börner K, Goeritz F, Painer J, Roellig K, Wenzler M, Hofer H, Ortmann S, Kramer-Schadt S (2017): Secrets of Success in a Landscape of Fear: Urban Wild Boar Adjust Risk Perception and Tolerate Disturbance. Front Ecol Evol 5. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00157

Stillfried M, Gras P, Busch M, Börner K, Kramer-Schadt S, Ortmann S (2017):Wild inside: Urban wild boar select natural, not anthropogenic food resources. PLOS ONE 12(4), e0175127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175127

Foxes in the city (2015-2020)

Duration: 2015-2020

The project "Foxes in the City" started in 2015 and combined ecological research questions with issues that involved the public. On the one hand, a Germany-wide study was conducted on the attitudes of citizens towards red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and on the other hand, residents of Berlin and Brandenburg were able to get involved in the project from the outset. Initially, they were asked to share fox sightings, stories, photos and videos as part of a media cooperation with Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg (rbb). This information supported the project planning (e.g. the determination of trap locations). After completion of the rbb programme action, the international cooperation with was established. Since April 2017, sightings of foxes and other wildlife throughout Europe can be reported on the website. In the long term, this will make it possible to record the distribution and activity times of species, among other factors. In addition, the experience gained in the fox project in the field of Citizen Science was incorporated into a report on the method in general.


Frigerio D, Pipek P, Kimmig S, Winter S, Melzheimer J, Diblíková L, Wachter B, Richter A (2018): Citizen science and wildlife biology: Synergies and challenges.

Kimmig SE, Flemming D, Kimmerle J, Cress U, Brandt M (2020): Elucidating the socio‐demographics of wildlife tolerance using the example of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Germany.

WTimpact – Citizen Science as a tool for knowledge transfer (2017-2021)

In this interdisciplinary project we investigated which factors influence learning and the emotional attitude of participants in Citizen Science projects. We wanted to find out whether Citizen Science can be used as a tool for knowledge transfer and which success factors are important for this.

Project details

Duration: 09/2017 - 02/2021
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Departments: Science Management, Dept Evolutionary Ecology, Dept Ecological Dynamics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader: Miriam Brandt (Science Management)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Anke Schumann (Science Management), Daniel Lewanzik, Julia Lorenz, Sylvia Ortmann, Christian Voigt (all: Dept Evolutionary Ecology), Konstantin Börner, Robert Hagen, Sophia Kimmig, Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (all: Dept Ecological Dynamics), Heribert Hofer (Director)
Consortium Partners: Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research (TROPOS), Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN), Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien (IWM)
Funding Organisation: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
Research Foci: Understanding traits and evolutionary adaptations
  Understanding the environmental context
  Developing theories, methods, and tools

Citizen Science (CS) is gaining ground in Germany. The claim is that CS projects bring benefits to both science and participants. Through their participation, citizens are supposed to learn something, build an emotional connection to the topic and better understand the scientific process. However, not many studies have so far investigated whether all these positive effects on the participants actually exist. In this project we therefore worked together with colleagues from the psychology and educational research.

The Leibniz-IZW has conducted two subprojects. The CS studies "Wildlife researchers in Berlin" and "Bat researchers in Berlin" dealed with the assessment of bats and terrestrial mammals. Participants were equipped with the necessary technology (wildlife cameras and bat detectors) to document the occurrence of wildlife in the city. After data recording, the participants uploaded the camera images or bat calls to the internet platform of the project. Afterwards, they could not only participate in the evaluation of the collected data, but also graphically displayed and interpreted them with the help of statistical tests. In this way they gained science-based insights into the distribution and behaviour of wild animals in Berlin. Furthermore, the participants had the opportunity to discuss their results in the forum. The participation of citizens enabled us to record wildlife in Berlin on an unprecedented scale. The data allowed us to draw conclusions about how wild animals use urban habitats and which landscape structures influence their distribution.

Using these examples, our project partners were investigating which factors influence learning outcomes and emotional attitudes of participants in CS projects. We wanted to find out whether CS is a good tool for knowledge transfer and how a project should be designed to be of high benefit to participants.

Selected publications

Publications produced under the auspices of the IZW

Louvrier JLP, Planillo A, Stillfried M, Hagen R, Börner K, Kimmig S, Ortmann S, Schumann A, Brandt M, Kramer-Schadt S (2021): Spatiotemporal interactions of a novel mesocarnivore community in an urban environment before and during SARS-CoV-2 lockdown. Journal of Animal Ecology. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13635

Lewanzik D, Straka TM, Lorenz J, Marggraf L, Voigt-Heucke S, Schumann A, Brandt M, Voigt CC (2022): Evaluating the potential of urban areas for bat conservation with citizen science data. Environmental Pollution.

Publications by collaborative partners with IZW members as co-authors

Articles in peer-reviewed journals:

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Kimmig, S. E., Hagen, R., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2021). To know about science is to love it? Unraveling cause–effect relationships between knowledge and attitudes toward science in citizen science on urban wildlife ecology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 58(8), 1179–1202.

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Kimmig, S. E., Hagen, R., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2022). Scientific reasoning skills predict topic‐specific knowledge after participation in a citizen science project on urban wildlife ecology. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Advance online publication.

Bruckermann, T., Stillfried, M., Straka, T. M., & Harms, U. (2022). Citizen science projects require agreement: a Delphi study to identify which knowledge on urban ecology is considered relevant from scientists’ and citizens’ perspectives. International Journal of Science Education, Part B-Communication and Public Engagement, 12(1), 75–92.

Bruckermann, T., Straka, T. M., Stillfried, M., & Krell, M. (2021). Context Matters: Accounting for Item Features in the Assessment of Citizen Scientists’ Scientific Reasoning Skills. Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, 6(1), Article 21.

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Stillfried, M., Schumann, A., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2022). I’m fine with collecting data: Engagement profiles differ depending on scientific activities in an online community of a citizen science project. PLOS ONE, 17(10), e0275785.

Greving, H., Bruckermann, T., Schumann, A., Stillfried, M., Börner, K., Hagen, R., Kimmig, S., Brandt, M., & Kimmerle, J. (in press). Attitudes toward engagement in Citizen Science increase self-related, ecology-related, and motivation-related outcomes in an urban wildlife project. BioScience.

Greving*, H., Bruckermann*, T., Schumann, A., Straka, T. M., Lewanzik, D., Voigt-Heucke, S. L., Marggraf, L., Lorenz, J., Brandt, M., Voigt, C. C., Harms, U., & Kimmerle, J. (2022). Improving attitudes and knowledge in a citizen science project about urban bat ecology. Ecology and Society 27(2):24. *shared first authorship

Straka, T. M., Greving, H., & Voigt, C. C. (2021). The effects of bat photographs on emotions, attitudes, intentions, and wildlife value orientations. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 26(6).

Magazine article:

Bruckermann, T., Greving, H., Brandt, M., & Harms, U. (2021). Daten sammeln reicht mir! Bürgerwissenschaften: Welche Aktivitäten interessieren Beteiligte? IPN Journal, 8, 18–23.