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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

Shauna Kehoe with an Follicle, Foto: Leibniz-IZW
Shauna Kehoe with an Follicle, Foto: Leibniz-IZW

Creating living embryos using artificial reproduction technologies provides a promising avenue to rescue mammalian species at risk of extinction. In order to grow in vitro a sufficient number of female gametes fit for fertilisation, scientists have to replicate the natural development of ovarian follicles right from the earliest – primordial – stage. Now, the first comprehensive analysis of gene expression (transcriptome) in early ovarian follicles of domestic cats gives an insight into the fundamental physiological mechanisms that could trigger follicle activation and growth in a species other than mice. The scientific work, performed by the scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research (BeGenDiv),is an essential stepping-stone towards supporting oocyte growth in vitro.

Wild Koala Foto: A. Gillett
Wild Koala Foto: A. Gillett

Koalas are facing multiple environmental and health issues which threaten their survival. Along with habitat loss - accelerated by last year’s devastating bush fires – domestic dog attacks and road accidents, they suffer from deadly chlamydial infections and extremely high frequency of cancer. An international team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now demonstrate that a retrovirus invading the koala germline explains the high frequency of koala cancer. The results are reported in the journal Nature Communications.

USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity

In order to comply with the WWF "trafficking in persons" (TIP) policy Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB) has developed this Anti-Human Trafficking Compliance Plan (AHTCP) within the framework of the USAID Biodiversity Conservation Activity.

Spalax ehrenbergi (Photo: Bassem18, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3032473)
Spalax ehrenbergi (Photo: Bassem18, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3032473)

For new species to evolve, conventional wisdom suggests that geographically isolated populations must exist that form separate reproductive communities. This isolation allows the genomes to slowly diverge and thus form new species. An international research team with participation of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the University of Haifa has now reconstructed the first reported case of localspeciation within a common gene pool in subterranean mole rats, a group of species which are rodents. Four out of five mole rat species of the superspecies Spalax ehrenbergi originated due to climate divergence over the past 1.5 million years, regionally across the country, and locally in the Upper Galilee through geological and soil microscale adaptive divergence in the last 228,000 years without chromosomal divergence in a common region. The latter local mechanism is called "sympatric speciation" and has now been demonstrated for the first time in a subterranean mammal in the team's paper published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”.

Zebras at a waterhole in East Africa (Photo: Peter Seeber)
Zebras at a waterhole in East Africa (Photo: Peter Seeber)

Water is a necessity for all life but its availability can be limited. In geographical areas experiencing dry seasons, animals congregate near the few freshwater sources, often reaching large densities. At these sites many animals from different species come to the same spots to drink, potentially operating as key locations for pathogen transmission within and between species. An international team of scientists lead by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) suggests that viruses can use restricted freshwater sources as a vector to be spread among animals. The key prediction of this idea is that animal viruses remain stable and infectious in water. The team tested this idea by sampling water holes in ecosystems of Africa and Mongolia with pronounced dry seasons and growing viruses in such water. The scientific results demonstrated that this was indeed possible and are published in “Science of the Total Environment”.

BioRescue Team at work, Leibniz-IZW
BioRescue Team at work, Leibniz-IZW

The COVID-19 pandemic - caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 - has changed the life of people everywhere and affected economic, cultural, social and political processes. Research and conservation are not exempt from these negative effects, whereas positive consequences of an “anthropause” on the environment are controversially discussed. The BioRescue research project, a programme aiming at saving the northern white rhinoceros from extinction, exemplifies the challenges to overcome when conducting research and conservation in an international consortium in times of a global pandemic. COVID-19 hampered communication and travels, prevented or delayed crucial procedures, caused losses in revenues and by that may have lowered the chances of a survival of the northern white rhino. The consortium adjusted strategies, gained valuable knowledge during these challenging times and continued with its mission. The effects of the pandemic on the BioRescue project are described in detail in a scientific paper published in the “Journal of Applied Animal Ethics Research”.

 

Fledermaus, Großes Mausohr, Foto: M Fritze, Leibniz-IZW
Fledermaus, Großes Mausohr, Foto: M Fritze, Leibniz-IZW

Fungal diseases are a major threat to wildlife, sometimes resulting in significant population declines or even causing the extirpation of populations or species. White-nose syndrome, caused by the cold-loving fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, has become a major cause of death for hibernating bats in North America. European bats survive when infected by the same fungus during hibernation. What are the reasons for such a contrast in outcomes? A scientist team led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now analysed the humoral innate immune defence of European greater mouse-eared bats to the fungus. In contrast to North American bats, European bats have sufficient baseline levels of key immune parameters and thus tolerate a certain level of infection throughout hibernation. The results are published in the journal "Developmental and Comparative Immunology".

Freshly isolated African lion oocytes, Foto: J. Zahmel
Freshly isolated African lion oocytes, Foto: J. Zahmel

A team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) inGermany, Givskud Zoo - Zootopia in Denmark and the University of Milan in Italy succeeded in producing the very first African lion in-vitro embryos after the vitrification of immature oocytes. For this specific method of cryopreservation, oocytes are collected directly after an animal is castrated or deceased and immediately frozen at -196°C in liquid nitrogen. This technique allows the storage of oocytes of valuable animals for an unlimited time, so that they can be used to produce offspring with the help of assisted reproduction techniques. The aim is to further improve and apply these methods to save highly endangered species such as the Asiatic lion from extinction. The current research on African lions as a model species is an important step in this direction. The results are reported in the scientific journal “Cryobiology”.

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