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Leibniz-IZW condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research strongly condemns Russia's attack on Ukraine. The Leibniz-IZW employs Ukrainian scientists, is very concerned about our scientific colleagues in Ukraine and will support scientists in Ukraine to the best of our ability.


The Leibniz-IZW is an internationally renowned German research institute. It is part of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. and a member of the Leibniz Association. Our goal is to understand the adaptability of wildlife in the context of global change and to contribute to the enhancement of the survival of viable wildlife populations. For this purpose, we investigate the diversity of life histories, the mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, as well as the interrelations of wildlife with their environment and people. We use expertise from biology and veterinary medicine in an interdisciplinary approach to conduct fundamental and applied research – from the molecular to the landscape level – in close dialogue with the public and stakeholders. Additionally, we are committed to unique and high-quality services for the scientific community.

+++ Current information on African swine fever: The Leibniz-IZW conducts research on the population dynamics, on models of disease outbreaks in wild boars and on the ecology and human-wildlife interaction in urban areas. African swine fever is a reportable disease in domestic swine and therefor is the purview of the respective federal state laboratories and the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health) FLI. +++

News

Field work with bats in a forest in Brandenburg, Germany (photos: Valentin Giebel)
Field work with bats in a forest in Brandenburg, Germany (photos: Valentin Giebel)

In order to meet climate protection goals, renewable energies are booming – often wind power. More than 30,000 turbines have already been installed on the German mainland so far, and the industry is currently scrambling to locate increasingly rare suitable sites. Thus, forests are coming into focus as potential sites. A scientific team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now demonstrated in a new paper published in the scientific journal “Current Biology” that wind turbines in forests impair endangered bat species: Common noctules (Nyctalus noctula), a species with a high risk of colliding with rotor blades, are attracted to forest wind turbines if these are located near their roosts. Far from roosts, common noctules avoid the turbines, essentially resulting in a loss of foraging space and thus habitat for this species.

 

Mouse lemur in Madagascar (photo: Sharon Kessler)
Mouse lemur in Madagascar (photo: Sharon Kessler)

Madagascar is home to a unique biodiversity with a large number of endemic species, among those many lemur species, including the mouse lemurs. This diversity is also found in their retroviruses, a team led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the University of Stirling reports in the journal “Virus Evolution”. They analysed the mouse lemur genome and identified viruses of two classes that represent ancient infections of the mouse lemur germline. The viruses now behave similarly to lemur genes and are thus called endogenous retroviruses (ERVs). It was surprising that some of the identified retroviruses are closely related to viruses found in other, very different mammals such as polar bears or domestic sheep. This suggests an intriguing and complex pattern of host switching of retroviruses, much more complex than previously thought.

Young spotted hyena twin brothers in Ngorongoro Crater. They will likely join the same clan to breed. Photo: Hoener OP/Leibniz-IZW
Young spotted hyena twin brothers in Ngorongoro Crater. They will likely join the same clan to breed. Photo: Hoener OP/Leibniz-IZW

In most mammals, males disperse to a new group after reaching sexual maturity. Dispersal often entails costs and is risky. New results from spotted hyenas show that males from the same birth group - and particularly twin brothers - very often disperse together and choose the same group to breed. The coordination is likely the combined result of males having similar preferences when they have a similar social and genetic background, and of related males actively sticking together to support one another.

Northern White Rhino Nabire at Safari Park Dvůr Králové (photo by Hynek Glos)
Northern White Rhino Nabire at Safari Park Dvůr Králové (photo by Hynek Glos)

In its race to advance assisted reproduction and stem cell associated technologies to save the northern white rhinoceros from extinction, the BioRescue consortium announces a major breakthrough: the creation of primordial germ cell-like cells (PGCLSs) from induced pluripotent stem cells of the northern white rhino Nabire. This milestone was led by specialists from Osaka University, Japan, and has never been achieved in large mammals before. Now there is one last step to master for the production of artificial rhino gametes (eggs and sperm) from preserved tissue. If successful, this would boost the availability and genetic diversity of embryos and become a cornerstone for saving the northern white rhinoceros. The scientists describe the culture systems and processes for the induction of the PGCLCs from stem cells in a newly published paper in the journal “Science Advances”.

Old forests and riverine habitats in Eastern Ukraine (photo: Yehor Yatsiuk)
Old forests and riverine habitats in Eastern Ukraine (photo: Yehor Yatsiuk)

European forest-dwelling bats require complex woodland structures at both the micro-habitat and the landscape level for successful breeding in summer. Particularly, the results from Kharkiv region (Eastern Ukraine) demonstrate that large stands of mature forests older than 90 years improved the breeding activity of bats, their abundance and overall species richness. Abundance and species richness increased from upland plots surrounded by agricultural lands to riverine or waterside plots with high forest cover. These are the results of a newly published paper in the scientific journal “Forests” by an international team of authors from the Ukrainian Bat Rehabilitation Center (UBRC) and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW).

Wildlife camera photos of various species at cheetah marking trees in Namibia (photos: Cheetah Research Project team)
Wildlife camera photos of various species at cheetah marking trees in Namibia (photos: Cheetah Research Project team)

Marking trees are important hotspots of communication for cheetahs: Here they exchange information with and about other cheetahs via scent marks, urine and scats. A team from the Cheetah Research Project of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now showed that several mammalian species on farmland in Namibia maintain a network for intra- and interspecific communication at cheetah trees. Black-backed jackals, African wildcats and warthogs visited and sniffed the cheetahs' “places to be” more frequently than control trees, the team concluded from photos and videos recorded by wildlife camera traps in a paper in the scientific journal “Mammalian Biology”. A common prey species of the cheetahs, however, avoided these hotspots.

Three hyena males with a female (photo: Oliver Höner)
Three hyena males with a female (photo: Oliver Höner)

How picky should females and males be when they choose a mate? How fiercely should they compete for mates? And how much should they engage in raising their offspring? The answers to these questions largely depend on the ratio of adult females to males in the social group, population or species. This is the conclusion of a review by a scientific team with the participation of the German Primate Center – Leibniz Institute for Primate Research (DPZ), the Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence, in foundation, and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW). The paper is published in the journal “Biological Reviews”.

Nathusius's pipistrelle bat after collision with a wind turbine's rotor blades (photo: Christian Voigt)
Nathusius's pipistrelle bat after collision with a wind turbine's rotor blades (photo: Christian Voigt)

Many bats are at risk of colliding with wind turbines. To prevent this, approval procedures for new turbines require acoustic surveys to assess this risk. The surveys help to identify those conditions under which bats are particularly active in the rotor-swept high-risk zone. Knowing these conditions may then help to formulate curtailment times for the operation of wind turbines to reduce the risk of collision. In a new investigation, a research team led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) showed that acoustic monitoring is insufficient if bats are unevenly distributed in the risk zone and if the coverage area of the acoustic detectors is too small – conditions typical for large turbines. Acoustic surveys should therefore be accompanied by carcass searches, and acoustic monitoring should be supplemented with additional ultrasonic detectors, for example, at the lower streak point of rotor blades, the team explained in a paper in the scientific journal “Conservation Science and Practice”.

IZW in the media

 

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Artenschutz an Windanlagen: Wie das akustische Monitoring zum Schutz der Biodiversität verbessert werden kann (und sollte)

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Researchers find the secret of the bunny hop: it's all in the genes

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Chemie in Greifvögeln: Pflanzenschutzmittel, Nagetiergift, Ibuprofen und Antibiotika

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