In which ecosystems does the Leibniz-IZW conduct research and why?
Landscapes in Central Europe are strongly influenced by man; here the protection of natural species communities and ecosystem processes must be improved. This is of great importance for the implementation of the sustainability strategy and the biodiversity strategy of the Federal Government of Germany and corresponds to the mission to preserve our habitats for the benefit of all. In order to provide the scientific basis for land use and conservation decisions, it is instructive to compare wildlife populations in anthropogenically modified areas, in completely new, anthropogenically shaped habitats and – where possible – in completely natural habitats. The city as a newly created habitat offers ideal conditions to study the adaptability of wildlife in comparison with populations in rural areas.
African savannahs are considered model systems for studying species-rich communities of herbivores and predators, pathogen-host systems in which wildlife, domestic animals and humans may be involved, and land-use conflicts between local populations and wildlife, especially predators and elephants. The Leibniz-IZW maintains several long-term projects in which these topics are studied in wildlife. Such studies are essential to follow the individual life history of wild animals and to prove long-term effects.
The Leibniz-IZW is also expanding its investigation of the species richness of tropical rainforests, which play a key role for the entire planet. Tropical rainforests are regarded as model systems for studying competition and coexistence of closely related and/or ecologically similar species in species-rich communities. At the Leibniz-IZW we investigate how such communities are structured and in which way they are affected or changed by different forms of rainforest use. For the past ten years, one focus has been on species communities in Southeast Asia, which were identified by the IUCN in 2009 as one of the three most important endangered species groups ("major extinction crises") alongside amphibian and coral extinction.