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

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

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.

Publications

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

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 Stadtwildtiere.ch was established. Since April 2017, sightings of foxes and other wildlife throughout Europe can be reported on the berlin.stadtwildtiere.de 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.

Publications

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. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eth.12746

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. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/csp2.212