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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. +++


Gefriersperma von Rindern Foto: wikipedia Uwe Muell
Gefriersperma von Rindern Foto: wikipedia Uwe Muell

A research team at the Humboldt University Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) developed an agent-based computer model to simulate the journey of sperm cells through the female genital tract. Key factors for a successful transit could be identified without the use of animal experiments and were published in the scientific journal "PLoS Computational Biology".

Spotted hyena with Maasai pastoralist and cattle in Ngorongoro Crater (Photo: Oliver Höner)
Spotted hyena with Maasai pastoralist and cattle in Ngorongoro Crater (Photo: Oliver Höner)

Emotions towards and cultural importance of large carnivores are better predictors of the acceptance of management strategies by local communities than the extent of livestock depredation. This is the result of a new interdisciplinary investigation led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW). They conducted 100 questionnaires with Maasai pastoralists in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, focusing on three large carnivore species (spotted hyenas, lions and leopards) and three management strategies (no action, relocation and lethal control). An emphasis on socio-cultural variables is key to understanding human-carnivore relationships and challenges the traditional focus on livestock depredation in human-carnivore conflict research, the scientists conclude. The findings are published in the open access scientific journal “Frontiers in Conservation Science”.

A leech in Southeast Asia (photo: Andrew Tilker)
A leech in Southeast Asia (photo: Andrew Tilker)

In a new scientific investigation headed by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), water from African and Mongolian waterholes as well as bloodmeals from Southeast Asian leeches were assessed for the ability to retrieve mammalian viruses without the need to find and catch the mammals. The scientists analysed the samples using high throughput sequencing to identify known viruses as well as viruses new to science. Both approaches proved to be suitable tools for pandemic prevention research as they allow finding and monitoring reservoirs of wildlife viruses. For example, a novel coronavirus most likely associated with Southeast Asian deer species was identified. The results are published in the scientific journal “Methods in Ecology and Evolution”.

Juvenile white-tailed sea eagle in the parental nest (photo: Marc Engler)
Juvenile white-tailed sea eagle in the parental nest (photo: Marc Engler)

The white-tailed sea eagle is known for reacting sensitively to human disturbances. Forestry and agricultural activities are therefore restricted in the immediate vicinity of the nests. However, these seasonal protection periods are too short in the German federal States of Brandenburg (until August 31) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (until July 31), as a new scientific analysis by a team of scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) suggests. Using detailed movement data of 24 juvenile white-tailed sea eagles with GPS transmitters, they were able to track when they fledge and when they leave the parental territory: on average, a good 10 and 23 weeks after hatching, respectively. When forestry work is allowed again, most of the young birds are still near the nest. In a publication in the journal “IBIS - International Journal of Avian Science”, the scientists therefore recommend an extension of the currently existing nest protection periods by one month.

Corpus luteum in domestic cat (picture: Leibniz-IZW)
Corpus luteum in domestic cat (picture: Leibniz-IZW)

Most of the existing 39 cat species are threatened. Successful reproduction under breeding conditions is hindered by a lack of knowledge and appropriate techniques. Scientists from the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) succeeded in testing the influence of selected hormones on cell cultures of domestic cats and translated the methods to wild cat species. This is a further milestone in studying the reproductive mechanisms of wild cat species and will help to improve assisted reproduction techniques. The scientific findings are published in the journals “Biology of Reproduction” and “Animals”.

Nathusius' bat (Pipistrellus nathusii). Photo by Oliver Lindecke
Nathusius' bat (Pipistrellus nathusii). Photo by Oliver Lindecke

Mammals see with their eyes, hear with their ears and smell with their nose. But which sense or organ allows them to orient themselves on their migrations, which sometimes go far beyond their local foraging areas and therefore require an extended ability to navigate? Scientific experiments led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), published together with Prof. Richard A. Holland (Bangor University, UK) and Dr. Gunārs Pētersons (Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies) now show that the cornea of the eyes is the location of such an important sense in migrating bats. If the cornea is anaesthetised, the otherwise reliable sense of orientation is disturbed while light detection remains unimpaired. The experiment suggests the localisation of a magnetic sense in mammals. The paper is published in the scientific journal "Communications Biology".

A school-based scientific study in Italy, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Mauritius and Japan shows that young people know too little about reciprocal disease transmission from animals to humans (zoonoses) and the integrative management of health risks (One Health concept). The results of the international study were published in the scientific journal Frontiers in public health.

Green sea turtle (By P.Lindgren - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27611674)
Green sea turtle (By P.Lindgren - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27611674)

In a special issue of the leading scientific journal “Nature” and companion papers simultaneously published in other scientific journals, the Vertebrate Genomes Project (VGP) today announced 16 high quality, near error-free, and near complete vertebrate reference genome assemblies for species across all taxa with backbones (mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles and fishes). This remarkable step towards a new quality and scale in genome sequencing of biological diversity – the largest genome in the project was 5 gigabases in size ­– will enable novel discoveries from life’s diversity. It was made possible by a decade-long collaboration among scientists all across the globe. The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research (BeGenDiv) contributed to this community effort by assisting in the development of the assembly pipeline, training of bioinformatics students in reference genome assembly and with the assembly and evolutionary analysis of three genomes: the Linnaeus's two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), the collared anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas). Further publications based on these genomes for the three species are in preparation

IZW in the media


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Die Sprache der Tiere

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Researchers find the secret of the bunny hop: it's all in the genes

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