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. +++
Bat diversity and abundance are highest in old deciduous forest stands on the river banks in Eastern Ukraine
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).
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.
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”.
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”.
Malaysia’s last male Sumatran rhino, Kertam, died in 2019. Now, a team from the Max Delbrück Center in Berlin has successfully grown stem cells and mini-brains from his skin cells. As the scientists explain in the journal “iScience”, their next goal is to create sperm cells that may help to save the endangered species from extinction. The Max Delbrück Center develops stem cell associated techniques (SCAT) as part of the BioRescue project, a collaborative effort led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) to develop and apply technologies to save the even more endangered northern white rhinoceros.
The stronger and more aggressive sex dominates the weaker sex. This simplistic view of male-female dominance relationships is common but falls short of the complexity of how dominance hierarchies are established in animal societies. A team of scientists with participation of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin (Leibniz-IZW) now compared intersexual dominance hierarchies of nine group-living mammals using a set of standardised methods and behaviours. They found that the species ranged from being strictly male to strictly female dominated, and that hierarchies were robust with respect to the method applied to construct them. They also found that in female-dominated societies, animals mostly relied on submissive signals and gestures to establish and maintain dominance, whereas in male-dominated societies, they mostly used aggressive behaviours. The results were published in the open access journal “Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution”.
Elephants have an amazing arsenal of face, ear and trunk movements. The trunk consists of far more muscles than the entire human body and can perform both powerful and very delicate movements. A team of scientists from the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now examined the facial motor nucleus of African and Asian elephants, the brain structure that controls the facial muscles of these animals. This nucleus contains more facial motor neurons than in any other terrestrial mammal, the scientists show in a paper published in the journal “Science Advances”. African elephants in particular have particularly prominent neuron clusters for the control of the trunk “fingers”.
Ranger numbers and protected area workforce must increase fivefold to effectively safeguard 30% of the planet’s wild lands by 2030
Ahead of the global meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Montréal, Canada, which decides new targets for nature, the first-ever study of its kind outlines an urgent need for larger numbers and better-supported protected area staff to ensure the health of life on Earth. In a new scientific paper published today in the journal “Nature Sustainability”, an international team of scientists – including two members of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin – argue that there are not enough rangers and other staff to manage even the current protected areas around the world. The authors urge governments, donors, private landowners and NGOs to increase the numbers of rangers and other staff five-fold in order to meet global biodiversity conservation goals that have economic, cultural and ecosystem benefits.