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.

Project details
Duration: since 01/2016
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Wildlife Diseases, Dept Reproduction Management, Science Management
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Claudia Szentiks (Dept Wildlife Diseases)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team:

Kristin Mühldorfer, Oliver Krone, Alex Greenwood, Marion Biering, Zoltan Mezö, Evangelia L. Mpinou, Karin Hönig, Nadine Jahn (all: Dept Wildlife Diseases), Thomas Hildebrandt, Guido Fritsch, Juliane Kühne (all: Dept Reproduction Management), Steven Seet (Science Management)

Consortium Partner(s):

LUPUS – Institute for wolf monitoring and research in Germany, Branch office Gelnhausen and Museum of Natural History Görlitz of the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research (SGN), German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Reactor Safety (BMU)

Current Funding Organisation: German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Construction and Reactor Safety (BMU)
Research Foci:
Understanding traits and evolutionary adaptations
Understanding wildlife health and disturbed homeostasis
Understanding the environmental context
Improving population viability
Developing theories, methods, and tools


Since the return of wild wolves to Germany in the end of last century the Leibniz-IZW is involved in research on the causes of death of this returning species. Poaching was observed from the very beginning and therefore the support of the criminal investigators and public prosecutors was necessary. With the growth of the population the number of wolves found dead also increased significantly. Thus, our research focus shifted more and more to the health status and the diseases to be expected as wolves are often suspected to reintroduce eradicated diseases i.e. rabies and to introduce new diseases. In 2016 the DBB-Wolf, the national documentation and advice centre on the subject of wolves, was founded and the Leibniz-IZW, to be precise, the wolf project partners became part of this consortium.

News: Interview with former project member Iris Lesniak in the Australian radio station East Side FM

Selected Publications

Ehlers B, Anoh AE, Salem NB, Broll S, Couacy-Hymann E, Fischer Durchmesser, Gedvilaite A, Ingenhütt N, Liebmann S, Martin M, Mossoun A, Mugisha K, Muyembe-Tamfum JJ, Pauly M, Pérez de Val B, Preugschas H, Richter D, Schubert G, Szentiks CA, Teichmann T, Walter C, Ulrich RG, Wiersma L, Leendertz FH, Calvignac-Spencer S (2019) Novel Polyomavirus in mammals from multiple orders and reassessment of Polyomavirus evolution and taxonomy. Viruses 2019, 11, 930; doi:10.3390/v11100930.

Reinhardt I, Kluth G, Nowak C, Szentiks CA, Krone O, Ansorge H, Müller T (2019) Military training areas facilitate the recolonizing of wolves in Germany. Conservation Letters 2019;12:e12635.

Lesniak I, Heckmann I, Heitlinger E, Szentiks CA, Nowak C, Harms V, Jarausch A, Reinhardt I, Kluth G, Hofer H, Krone O (2017) Population expansion and individual age affect endoparasite richness and diversity in a recolonizing large carnivore population. Sci Rep. 2017 Jan 27;7:41730. doi: 10.1038/srep41730.