Department of Wildlife Diseases

       Research on wildlife diseases for species conservation

The Department Wildlife Diseases investigates diseases relevant to free-ranging and captive wildlife. We study the evolutionary, ecological and anthropogenic factors that drive pathogen adaptation and variability of host responses to different wildlife diseases. This enables us to distinguish species-specific factors from the general principles of infectious disease biology. Our work is interdisciplinary in the fields of bacteriology, immunology, parasitology, pathology, toxicology and virology. In addition, we offer diagnostic and research-oriented services, especially bacteriology and pathology, for internal and external partners. >> More information

Selected projects of the department

Characterization of the retroviral germline invasions using the koala retrovirus as a model

We use the koala retrovirus to understand how viruses, retroviruses in particular, have shaped a large part of vertebrate genomes, what the consequences of the process are for the host, and identify host defence mechanisms.

Health status and diseases in the middle European lowland wolf population

Wolves in Germany are predominantly in the area of conflict between hunters, cattle and sheep breeders, nature conservation associations, politics and the general public. The Leibniz-IZW provides evidence-based research results that form the basis for wolf management in Germany.

Eco-immunology of carnivores with low immunogenetic diversity

In this project we study the immune phenotype as well as the parasites and pathogens of two feline species, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus).

Environmental pathogen transmission

In this project we are examining whether water can act as viral vector for mammals under conditions of seasonal water shortage. We are also examining water as a non-invasive resource for host and virus identification and characterization.

Diseases in wildlife from Germany

Our research combines pathological and microbiological investigations of deceased wild animals from Germany to gain relevant insights into the health status and the presence of infectious agents in native species.

Emerging bacterial infectious agents

In this project we perform cross-sectional studies on novel bacterial strains isolated from wildlife species to understand their importance and adaptability to specific hosts and to provide solutions for a reliable identification. Our research combines the expertise from veterinary pathologists as well as microbiologists of veterinary science universities, national reference and federal state laboratories.