As of March 2025 the IZW is looking for a new director, in in conjunction with a professorship for Interdisciplinary Wildlife Science at the Freie Universität Berlin.
We have exciting opportunities to tackle challenges for wildlife research with the help of high-tech through the implementation of an expansion project starting in 2024. For this conceptual and methodological development, we are looking for a personality who can lead the institute with strategic vision and leadership and who is committed to all areas of research at the IZW. More information can be found here; to apply (ID: IZW-080018) please see here.
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. +++
While some wildlife species thrive well in cities, it's harder for large, insectivorous bat species to find enough food: To get their fill, city-dwelling common noctules (Nyctalus noctula) have to hunt longer than their rural counterparts and yet they catch fewer insects. While rural bats hunt together, their urban counterparts regularly forage alone. These findings, published in the scientific journal “Global Change Biology”, are the results of a new scientific investigation led by PD Dr Christian Voigt and Dr Laura Stidsholt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW).
In late summer, some bat species migrate from northern Europe along the coastlines to their wintering sites in central and western Europe. Until now it was assumed that all bats travelled in the same direction during the migration. However, the reality is more complex: On the Latvian Baltic coast, a research team led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) reconstructed the flight paths of Nathusius’ pipistrelle bats using ultrasound microphones. Most animals flew southwards in late summer, but on some days 20 percent travelled in the opposite direction – presumably owing to weather conditions. More and more wind turbines are being set up along the coasts and on the high seas of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. As bats spend more time along the coastlines than expected, partially deviate onto the high seas and even fly detours, the wind turbines pose a more (deadly) danger to bats than previously recognised, the team concludes in an article in the journal “Global Ecology and Conservation”.
Reproductive behaviour in the animal kingdom is extremely diverse. Until now, it was believed that the copulatory behaviours of mammals always involve penetration of the female genital tract by the penis. A scientific investigation led by the University of Lausanne and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), which was recently published in the journal “Current Biology”, reveals an exception in bats, a group of mammals whose sexual behaviour is still poorly understood. The common serotine bat mates without intromission of the penis into the female genital tract.
Half of tested sturgeon products such as caviar from Europe are illegal, and some don’t even contain any trace of sturgeon
Wild caviar, a pricey delicacy made from sturgeon eggs, has been illegal for decades since poaching brought the fish to the brink of extinction. Today, legal, internationally tradeable caviar can only come from farmed sturgeon, and there are strict regulations in place to help protect the species. However, by conducting genetic and isotope analyses on caviar samples from Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine—nations bordering the remaining wild sturgeon populations—a team of sturgeon experts found evidence that these regulations are actively being broken. Their results, published today in the journal “Current Biology”, show that half of the commercial caviar products they sampled are illegal, and some don’t even contain any trace of sturgeon.
“Wolves like cherry-picking”: Modelling shows how they recolonised Germany and where they could live in the future
The return of the grey wolf (Canis lupus) to Germany, which began 23 years ago in the region of Lusatia in Eastern Germany, is a process of great ecological and social significance. Therefore, a precise understanding of the recolonisation of the original habitat by the grey wolf and a reliable prediction of its future potential distribution are highly valuable. A detailed comparison of different approaches to spatial modelling using 20 years of distribution data now unravelled the complexity of the recolonisation process. A team led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) shows in a paper in the scientific journal “Diversity and Distributions” that grey wolf habitat selection changed from the early (when they cherry-pick the finest locations) to late phases of recolonisation (when they are much less selective) in a particular area. These results are a refinement of the team’s earlier habitat modelling from 2020, originally published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation.
Advanced assisted reproduction in white rhinos is safe and reliable, shows BioRescue evaluation of 65 OPU-IVF procedures
The BioRescue project develops and pioneers advanced assisted reproduction technologies (aART) for conservation in the face of the imminent extinction of most rhino species and subspecies. In a new scientific analysis published in the journal “Reproduction”, the team evaluated 65 aART procedures comprising hormonal ovarian stimulation, ovum pick-up (OPU), in-vitro oocyte maturation and in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), embryo culture and cryopreservation conducted from 2015 to 2022. The evaluation showed that aART is safe for the donor females with no detrimental health effects, and successful in that it yielded 51 embryos. In fact, regular OPUs benefited the reproductive health of individual female rhinos by improving ovarian function, increasing follicle numbers and instigating the regression of pathological structures such as ovarian cysts.
How are environmental changes, loss of biodiversity, and the spread of pathogens connected? The answer is a puzzle. Scientists from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) have now described one piece of that puzzle in the journal “eLife”, showing that the destruction of tropical rainforests harms the diversity of mosquito species. At the same time, more resilient species of mosquitoes become more prevalent – which also means the viruses they carry are more abundant. If there are many individuals of a given species, those viruses can spread quickly.
Colossal Biosciences joins BioRescue in its mission to save the Northern White Rhino from extinction
With only two living females left, the partnership will contribute to the genetic recovery of the northern white rhino from complete extinction. Colossal developed a pioneering toolkit for the challenging task to restore genetic diversity from museal specimens for a living population of critically endangered species.