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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

Knut (2008). Photo: Zoo Berlin
Knut (2008). Photo: Zoo Berlin

Knut, the famous polar bear of the Berlin Zoological Garden (Germany) died of encephalitis, as diagnosed soon after his death. However, the cause of his disease has remained elusive until now. A team of scientists from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin has now solved the case: The polar bear suffered from an autoimmune disease of the brain. This non-infectious illness is called “anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis”, with symptoms in human patients similar to those displayed by Knut. Knut is the first wild or domestic animal in which this form of encephalitis has been demonstrated. The results were reported in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”. The authors propose that errant immune responses may be associated with brain diseases more commonly than previously assumed.

White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Photo: Oliver Krone
White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Photo: Oliver Krone

White-tailed eagles represent no competition for fishermen. This has been shown by researchers of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) based on the first field study about the foraging behaviour of the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Northern Germany. Furthermore, the study, published in the “Journal of Ornithology”, allows important insights in the hunting behaviour and relevant conservation measures of this species.

Caviar without official label. Photo: IZW
Caviar without official label. Photo: IZW

A considerable amount of sturgeon caviar sold in Bulgaria and Romania is mislabeled or even counterfeit. These findings were discovered by scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the WWF Austria. The results of the market survey have just been published in the scientific journal “Journal of Applied Ichthyology”.

Tiger skulls. Photo: Per Christiansen
Tiger skulls. Photo: Per Christiansen

New scientific research could help to protect tigers (Panthera tigris) from extinction. The findings indicate that tigers should be classified as only two subspecies – up to now nine subspecies were previously recognized. This will have a significant impact on species conservation since management efforts and breeding programmes can now be organised in a simpler, more flexible and effective way. The results have been published in the scientific open access journal “Science Advances”.

Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and enzyme immunoassay. Photo: East ML & Dehnhard M
Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) and enzyme immunoassay. Photo: East ML & Dehnhard M

Innovation in hormone research – A team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the University of Pretoria succeeded for the first-time in measuring metabolites of testosterone excreted in the faeces of spotted hyenas. This innovative non-invasive research method is essential to avoid disturbance of animals.

Bats fertilize tropical trees: A win-win situation in the rainforest
Carollia perspicillata eating fruits of a solanaceous herb | Photo: Christian Voigt

Bats in tropical regions are fertilizing trees with their excretions. An international team of scientists recently discovered that seeds of a tropical tree species, which regularly hosts bats in large hollows, contain nutrients from bat excreta. The study has now been published in the scientific journal “Biotropica”.

Koalas have a funny diet - do they have funny bacteria?
Koala at the Tiergarten Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria | Photo: Barbara Feldmann

With their specialized diet of almost exclusively Eucalyptus leaves, do koalas require specialist microbes to help them digest their food? Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) investigated the composition of bacterial communities in different digestion-associated organs but found no unusual or special microbial communities when they compared these with those of other mammals. The study also demonstrates that non-invasive samples such as faecal samples commonly used to assess the composition of microbial communities may not provide an accurate account of the host gut microbiome. The study has just been published in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”.

Spotted hyenas. Photo: IZW
Spotted hyenas. Photo: IZW

Scientists showed that in spotted hyenas lactation increases the chance of parasite infection. The results have been published in the scientific journal “Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology”.