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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

Biodiversity and the Earth BioGenome Project (photos: J. Zwilling/O.Krone/unsplash/EBP)
Biodiversity and the Earth BioGenome Project (photos: J. Zwilling/O.Krone/unsplash/EBP)

Sequencing the genomes of all plants, animals, fungi and other microbial life on Earth is a strategy to foster better understanding, management and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and scientists working on the European Reference Genome Atlas (ERGA) work hand in hand with the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP) on this mission – building a global network of scientists as well as strengthening sequencing expertise and capacity. The EBP is now entering a new phase as it moves from pilot projects to full scale “production” sequencing. This new phase is marked with a collection of papers published this week in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA” (PNAS), describing the project’s goals, achievements to date and next steps.

Citizen Scientists with a bat detector (photo: Ch. Häberle/Leibniz-IZW)
Citizen Scientists with a bat detector (photo: Ch. Häberle/Leibniz-IZW)

Urbanisation is a notable threat to bat populations all over the world, especially through artificial light and the reduction of habitat and food supply. If certain conditions are met, some spaces within metropolitan areas can be suitable for bats, so managing these spaces appropriately could contribute to bat conservation. With the help of more than 200 citizen scientists in Berlin, a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) examined these conditions and investigated how they affect the abundance and distribution of bat species. They conclude that maintaining a low level of artificial light at night is important for all bats in cities. In addition, access to vegetation and water bodies is essential for many of them. The results and conclusions are published in the scientific journal “Environmental Pollution”.

Red Fox, Garden in Berlin, Camera Trap, Foto: Leibniz-IZW
Red Fox, Garden in Berlin, Camera Trap, Foto: Leibniz-IZW

Avoid or compete, eat or be eaten, exploit or cooperate – biotic communities are shaped by species interactions in many different ways. Urban environments represent a special case as human presence and influence may have fundamentally changed the rules of the game. Around 150 wildlife cameras installed by Berlin citizen scientists in their gardens in five rounds from autumn 2018 to autumn 2020 produced tens of thousands of photographs. Their analysis by a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) sheds light on how foxes, racoons, martens and cats get along with people and with each other in the city: All three wild species used the same localities, but with little temporal overlap during the night. All wild species avoided domestic cats. And during lockdowns they were more often recorded, especially at night. These and more insights are published in a recent article in the “Journal of Animal Ecology”.

Killed bats on wind turbine, Foto: Christian Voigt, Leibniz-IZW
Killed bats on wind turbine, Foto: Christian Voigt, Leibniz-IZW

Many bats die at wind turbines when colliding with the spinning blades. Currently it is unclear whether all age cohorts or sexes are equally vulnerable. A comparison of age, sex and geographic origin of Nathusius’ pipistrelles killed at wind turbines and living conspecifics from nearby populations now reveals that juveniles are killed more frequently than adults compared to their proportion in local populations. Females are killed more frequently than males – yet in line with their higher proportion in local populations. The high number of killed females and the elevated vulnerability of juveniles may have a negative effect on the long-term survival of populations, indicating that the current practice of wind energy production may not be ecologically sustainable. The investigation was led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and is published in the scientific journal “Ecological Applications”.

Dr Nicole Münnich (photo: Ralf Günther)
Dr Nicole Münnich (photo: Ralf Günther)

Dr. Nicole Münnich takes on the role of Managing Director of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB) on December 1, 2021. She succeeds Dr. Falk Fabich, who was Acting Managing Director from April 2021 following the departure of long-time Managing Director Dr. Manuela Urban.

Field work on bats in the Himalayas (Foto: Emily Stanford)
Field work on bats in the Himalayas (Foto: Emily Stanford)

Million years of evolution have produced a dazzling variety of species, each uniquely adapted to its environment. A straightforward way to measuring biodiversity is by the number of species (taxonomic diversity). Recently, there is growing emphasis to quantify diversity also in other ways: a) functional diversity, which is the diversity of phenotypic traits that allow organisms to perform their ecological functions and b) phylogenetic diversity, meaning the variation in the branches in the tree of life. In a paper published recently in the journal “Scientific Reports” a team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) compares these approaches: They found that species richness and functional diversity of Himalayan bat communities decline at high elevation without the loss of phylogenetic diversity. Their findings provide insights on the diversity of bats in the Himalayas and serve as an important baseline in assessing this diversity in the context of environmental changes.

Platform "Keep Nature Alive" (Bild: Steven Seet/Unsplash)
Platform "Keep Nature Alive" (Bild: Steven Seet/Unsplash)

To maximize the effectiveness of its scientific findings in addressing the global biodiversity crisis, the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) relies on close interaction with society, including the use of innovative multimedia tools. The platform "Keep Nature Alive" (www.keepnaturealive.de), which was recently spun off from the Leibniz-IZW, continues this path: "Keep Nature Alive" combines digital communication and crowdfunding and in this way aims to establish lively and committed communities for projects at the interface of science and environmental protection. In addition, the platform will be accompanied by communication science - as the first of its kind.

Illuminated Paris at night. Bats need to navigate through this mosaic of illuminated spaces and dark corridors.
Illuminated Paris at night. Bats need to navigate through this mosaic of illuminated spaces and dark corridors.

The artificial illumination of the night by lamps is considered a central achievement of civilisation with countless economic, social and cultural benefits for people. For many animals, however, artificial light poses a considerable challenge. Nocturnal and light-shy species are forced to move to dark areas or adjust their behaviour to the new nocturnal brightness. In a paper published in the journal “BioScience”, an international research team led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) provides an evidence-based overview of the effects of artificial light on European bat species. They find that especially those species that hunt insects in narrow spaces such as forests are very sensitive to artificial light. In contrast, bats hunting along forest edges or in open areas are somewhat more tolerant of artificial light. At roosts or drinking sites all species are distinctly light-shy.

IZW in the media

 

04.06.2021 | BBC News
How to protect birds and bats from wind turbines

02.06.2021 | Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Kontaktbörse am Katzenbaum - Die sozialen Netzwerke der Geparden

01.06.2021 | ZEIT Leo
Wer ist hier der Boss - Zwei Gepardenbrüder in Namibia

27.05.2021 | Pferde.de
Ob blond, ob braun – die Geschichte der Fellfarben beim Pferd

26.05.2021 | ServusTV
Cher und der Elefant

25.05.2021 | Der Tagesspiegel
In Brandenburg werden immer mehr Wölfe getötet

19.05.2021 | BILD
Eltern von Eisbärin Hertha sind Geschwister - Wie gefährlich ist Inzucht bei Tieren?

13.05.2021 | Berliner Zeitung
Wenn einer Braunbärin der Zahn gezogen wird

12.05.2021 | FOCUS
Tote Wölfin «Juli» wird untersucht

10.05.2021 | Bild der Wissenschaft
Magnetsinn im Fledermaus-Auge

07.05.2021 | Nature World News
Animals Can Survive Illnesses Caused by Climate Change Better than Humans?

07.05.2021 | APA Austria
Stu­die: Ein Drit­tel der Schü­ler weiß nicht was Zoo­no­sen sind

06.05.2021 | Econoticias
Los murciélagos tienen un sexto sentido en las córneas

03.05.2021 | Der Tagesspiegel
Kinderwünsche und Umsiedelungen für Nashörner - Alternativen zum Aussterben

02.05.2021 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Artenschutz: Hunde haben die Nase vorn

30.04.2021 | Riffreporter
Schicksalsjahr für die Natur: Verhandlungen zu globalem Abkommen stecken fest

29.04.2021 | Der Tagesspiegel
Wie Pferde und Esel Wüsten beleben

28.04.2021 | FOCUS
Weiterer Schritt zur Rettung der Art

26.04.2021 | Bochumer Zeitung
Retroviren schreiben das Koala-Genom um und verursachen Krebs

19.04.2021 | ARD tagesschau24
WISSENSCHECK: Tierparks im Wandel

17.04.2021 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Artenschutz in Afrika - Stammtisch der Geparden

14.04.2021 | Greenpeace-Magazin
Dufte Katzenbars: Die Entdeckung von „Kommunikationshotspots“ könnte den Schutz der bedrohten Geparde voranbringen

07.04.2021 | Windkraft-Journal
Artenschutz an Windanlagen: Wie das akustische Monitoring zum Schutz der Biodiversität verbessert werden kann (und sollte)

05.04.2021 | ZDF Terra X
Die Sprache der Tiere

02.04.2021 | Berliner Zeitung
Berliner Forscher bitten zu Ostern zur Hasenjagd

02.04.2021 | Badische Zeitung
Dating in Hyänen-Kreisen: Was für ein Stress

31.03.2021 | Berlin.de
Hase oder doch Kaninchen? Berliner zum Zählen aufgerufen

31.03.2021 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Hase oder doch Kaninchen? Berliner zum Zählen aufgerufen

30.03.2021 | NABU Berlin
Auch der Osterhase ist ein (Ost-)Berliner - Berliner*innen sollen Feldhasen-Sichtungen in der Stadt melden

30.03.2021 | Horizon Magazine
The curious case of northeast Brazil’s cross-breeding sea turtles

25.03.2021 | Deutschlandfunk Kultur
Genomatlas für Artenschutz: Gen-Entschlüsselung könnte Artenvielfalt bewahren

25.03.2021 | The Guardian
Researchers find the secret of the bunny hop: it's all in the genes

25.03.2021 | MDR
Chemie in Greifvögeln: Pflanzenschutzmittel, Nagetiergift, Ibuprofen und Antibiotika

25.03.2021 | Die Linde
Schlagrisiko von Fledermäusen an Windkraftanlagen verringern

25.03.2021 | FOCUS
Rattengift bedroht Greifvögel

23.03.2021 | Berliner Zeitung
Chemikalien vergiften Greifvögel in Deutschland – und Habichte in Berlin

12.03.2021 | Terra Mater Factual Studios
How to Save a Species When There Are Only Two Females Left