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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

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”.

Hedgehog monitoring in a Berlin park (Photo: Anne Berger)
Hedgehog monitoring in a Berlin park (Photo: Anne Berger)

Hedgehogs live both in the countryside and larger cities. As populations continue to decline, especially in rural areas, most hedgehogs in central Europe are now urban dwellers. To efficiently protect these populations, the suitability of their traits and life histories for life in human-dominated habitats need to be better understood. The new special issue on "applied hedgehog conservation research" of the scientific journal "Animals", co-edited by Dr Anne Berger of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), fills an important part of this research gap. One of the new research results published in the special issue: Hedgehogs are not very mobile, yet despite considerable barriers in the cityscape, such as roads or waterways, they do not become isolated from each other and still function as one population. This was indicated by sufficient gene flow and a lack of genetic population structure of the hedgehogs in Berlin. The authors conclude that both green spaces and corridors in the city on the one hand and translocations by hedgehog carers on the other are key to the gene flow and thus to the resilience of local hedgehog populations.

The BioRescue team during the oocyte collection in December 2020 (Photo: Rio the photographer)
The BioRescue team during the oocyte collection in December 2020 (Photo: Rio the photographer)

The international consortium of scientists and conservationists that is working towards preventing the extinction of the northern white rhino through advanced assisted reproduction technologies is happy to announce that in December 2020, two new northern white rhino embryos were produced. On December 13, the team of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Safari Park Dvůr Králové, Kenya Wildlife Service and Ol Pejeta Conservancy successfully performed an oocyte collection in Kenya. After immediate transportation of the recovered oocytes across continents, the embryos were created at Avantea laboratory in Cremona (Italy) following maturation and fertilisation of the oocytes with the semen of Suni. They were cryopreserved on Christmas eve when they reached the blastocyst stage suitable for freezing and increase the total number of viable embryos produced so far to five. This nourishes the hope that despite challenges and delays caused by COVID-19 the northern white rhino can still be saved. The next steps in the programme are already underway. 

Group of hyenas during a border conflict, Foto: Oliver Höner/Leibniz-IZW
Group of hyenas during a border conflict, Foto: Oliver Höner/Leibniz-IZW

Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) have found that interacting with other males is more “stressful” for low-ranking than for high-ranking male spotted hyenas. This restricts the time and energy low-ranking males can invest in courting the most desirable females and is therefore a key factor for their lower reproductive success than their high-ranking rivals. This mechanism seems to be more important in determining the number and quality of offspring than physical traits such as attractiveness and fighting ability. These insights were possible owing to a combination of extensive field and lab work – over 20 years of searching and identifying thousands of hyenas in the Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania, monitoring their behaviour and life histories, and measuring the concentration of glucocorticoid metabolites in more than 400 faeces. The findings are published in the scientific journal “Functional Ecology”.

Orang-Utang, Foto: Rhino and Forest Fund e.V.
Orang-Utang, Foto: Rhino and Forest Fund e.V.

One year ago, the Rhino and Forest Fund (RFF) – a spin-off of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) – and the Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Deutschland e.V. launched a collaboration to convert oil palm plantations into new rainforest in Malaysian Borneo. These new rainforest sites will serve as a wildlife corridor between two protected areas that are currently separated by plantations impassable to many wildlife species: Tabin and Kulamba Wildlife Reserves. Within three years, the RFF and other partners have acquired 65 hectares of key areas (forest and plantation areas) with guidance from the Leibniz-IZW. The areas were transferred to the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD), which assigned them to the highest protection status. Since the collaboration of RFF and BOS started, approximately 8,000 new trees were planted and now grow to become valuable wildlife habitat.

A cheetah in central Namibia (Photo: J.Zwilling/Leibniz-IZW)
A cheetah in central Namibia (Photo: J.Zwilling/Leibniz-IZW)

Rural central Namibia is one of the most important strongholds of the declining global cheetah population. Here, the rarest large African cat lives on privately owned farmland. A traditional conflict poses a threat to them,as they occasionally prey on cattle calves and are therefore rarely welcomed on the farms. New insights into the cheetah’s spatial behaviour provide a viable solution to this human-wildlife conflict: In the core areas of male cheetah territories all local males and females frequently meet to exchange information. This results in hotspots of cheetah activity in these “communication hubs” and in substantially less activity in the vast areas between the core areas of the territories. Implementing this knowledge and moving their breeding herds with young calves out of these hotspots, farmers were able to reduce livestock losses by more than 80 percent. These insights are the result of a close and trusting cooperation between scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and farmers in central Namibia. They are published in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America”.

Dr. Kristin Mühldorfer has been recognised as de facto diplomate of the ECVM
Dr. Kristin Mühldorfer has been recognised as de facto diplomate of the ECVM

The European Board of Veterinary Specialisation has recognised Dr Kristin Mühldorfer, microbiology specialist in the Leibniz-IZW Department of Wildlife Diseases, as a de facto diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Microbiology (ECVM). Simultaneously, the Leibniz-IZW received approval as a Satellite Training Centre to participate in the ECVM residency programme and to promote high quality training in the discipline of veterinary microbiology at the European level. Residents will benefit from the long hands-on and scientific experience of bacteriology and pathology in wildlife disease diagnostics, and gain insights into research activities of Mühldorfer and her colleagues.

City bird with prey. Photo: Till Kottmann/Unsplash
City bird with prey. Photo: Till Kottmann/Unsplash

Urbanisation represents a drastic change to natural habitats and poses multiple challenges to many wildlife species, thereby affecting the occurrence and the abundance of many bird species. A team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) collaborated to analyse breeding bird data from the Senate of Berlin gathered by citizen scientists. They found that the abundance of invertebrates such as insects or spiders as prey is a key factor affecting bird diversity in the city. The more prey is available, the more diverse the urban bird communities are. This demonstrates the importance of species interactions for explaining urban biodiversity in addition to impacts of anthropogenic disturbance and habitat structure. The results are published in the scientific journal “Diversity and Distributions”.

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