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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

Sumatran rhino. Photo: Petra Kretzschmar
Sumatran rhino. Photo: Petra Kretzschmar

Measures increasing the birth-rate can save the world’s smallest rhino from extinction

A new study examines the decline of the Sumatran rhino in Borneo. It concludes that the remnant populations of Sumatran rhinos can only be rescued by combining efforts of total protection with stimulation of breeding activity. The researchers suggest to resettle small isolated populations and to undertake measures to improve fertility. The case of the recently captured female rhino in Kalimantan, Borneo shows the importance of immediate action. The article has been published in the scientific journal “Global Ecology and Conservation”.

Nathusius's pipistrelle bat. Photo: Christian Voigt
Nathusius's pipistrelle bat. Photo: Christian Voigt

Show me what you ate and I’ll tell you where you come from. This, to put it simply, is the approach of the latest bat research study conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, Germany. Based on isotope analyses of several kinds of tissue, scientists headed by Christian Voigt successfully defined the preferred habitats of three bat species. For the first time ever, these results shed light on which habitats bats prefer during their annual migrations.

Spotted Hyenas. Photo: Eve Davidian
Spotted Hyenas. Photo: Eve Davidian

Males that stay at home are not second-class males but can breed as successfully as their more adventurous competitors that leave home, a new long-term study on spotted hyenas shows. The results from a research team of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, Germany were published in the open accessjournal Science Advances.

Gibbon. Photo: Linda Tanner
Gibbon. Photo: Linda Tanner

Berlin-based scientists have sequenced the complete genome of all five identified strains of the gibbon ape leukemia virus (GALV). The scientists were able to prove that selection has shaped parts of the genome of this group of viruses. This is likely as a consequence of selective pressure from the host immune systems that the viruses face. GALVs are the causative agents of hematopoietic neoplasms such as leukemia and thus far have been isolated exclusively from captive primates. However GALV is used in biomedical research as vector for cancer therapy. Therefore, the sequencing of the full genomes and understanding their evolution should help to enhance their utility as viral vectors. The findings were published in the scientific magazine “Journal of Virology”.

Youg capercaillie. Photo: Ingo Decker
Youg capercaillie. Photo: Ingo Decker

Bad Liebenwerda, Germany - Using molecular genetic tools, scientists have demonstrated the existence of a grandchildren’s generation of capercaillies in the south of Brandenburg in East Germany. A pilot conservation project reintroduced these endangered birds to the German nature reserves “Niederlausitzer Heidelandschaft” and “Niederlausitzer Landrücken” as recently as 2012. The founder population was wild caught in Sweden and then transferred to Brandenburg.

Wild guinea pigs. Photo: Alexandra Weyrich/IZW
Wild guinea pigs. Photo: Alexandra Weyrich/IZW

Fathers are able to adjust to increasing temperatures within their own lifetime and do transmit this information to their offspring. This has now been shown for the first time in a wild animal. The findings were the result of a project within the Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation and have been published in the scientific journal “Molecular Ecology”.

The northern white rhino Nabiré, a 32-year-old female at ZOO Dvůr Králové, sadly died on 27th July, 2015. Photo: Joel Sartore
The northern white rhino Nabiré, a 32-year-old female at ZOO Dvůr Králové, sadly died on 27th July, 2015. Photo: Joel Sartore

International scientists set up a rescue plan for the worldwide last three northern white rhinos (Ceratotherium simum cottoni). The goal is to use the remaining three rhinos and tissue samples from already dead individuals to multiply them into a viable self-sustaining population. For this purpose scientists apply recent findings in reproduction and stem cell research.

 

Northern White Rhino. Photo: Joel Sartore
Northern White Rhino. Photo: Joel Sartore

An international team of the world’s leading reproductive and genetic experts will meet from 3rd – 6th December, 2015 in Vienna with the purpose of fighting extinction. The meeting, organised by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Germany, San Diego Zoo Global in the United States, Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Austria and ZOO Dvůr Králové of the Czech Republic will include scientists from four continents. The goal of the meeting will be to setup a master plan to save the northern white rhino, a species on the brink of extinction.