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. +++
High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs transitioning from land to water
The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence. Occasionally, some species took the opposite direction. New insights into the anatomy of the inner ear of prehistoric reptiles, the thalattosuchians, revealed details about one of these evolutionary turning points. During the Mesozoic era, these now extinct crocodile relatives ventured into the ocean after a long semiaquatic phase. During this process, the skeleton of the thalattosuchians gradually adapted to the new pelagic habitat. In particular, the changes to the inner ear vestibular system of these reptiles enhanced their ability to swim. Compared to whales, which adapted quickly to life in water without a prolonged semiaquatic stage, this is a strikingly different evolutionary path for the same transition. These new findings of an international research team were made possible by the use of a Canon high-tech computed tomography (CT) scanner from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW). The results have been published in the „Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences of the USA“.
Wind farms in the Black Sea coast region could have a negative impact on bat populations in large parts of Eastern Europe
The Via Pontica, an important migration route for birds in Eastern Europe, runs along the Black Sea coast of Romania and Bulgaria. Bats also use this route. In this region, numerous wind farms have been installed in recent years because of good wind conditions, but there has been little implementation of the legally required measures for the protection of bats. A Romanian research team cooperated with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin to demonstrate that this leads to high death rates of migrating bats and potentially large declines even in populations living far away in other countries. The scientists therefore recommend the widespread introduction of turn-off times during the migration months, which - as the team was able to show in a local wind farm - would massively decrease bat mortality yet produce only a marginal loss in the energy production of the turbines.
BioRescue Consortium performs most successful oocyte collection and embryo creation ever in southern white rhinos in the German Serengeti Park Hodenhagen
In order to prevent the extinction of species such as the northern white rhino, the BioRescue consortium is developing new methods and technologies for conservation. An important part of this work is basic research in cooperation with zoological institutions. This partnership has enabled the BioRescue team to continue working even during the Corona pandemic. On May 26, 2020, the team extracted oocytes from the southern white rhino female "Makena" in Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany, and then fertilized them in the Avantea laboratory in Italy to create four viable embryos. This was the team's most successful procedure of its kind and nourishes the hope that advanced assisted reproduction technologies (aART) are well established to ensure the survival of the northern white rhino in the near future.
Summary of an article in the "Volksstimme" (in German).
Only recently, Prof Thomas Hildebrandt (Head of the Department of Reproduction Management at the Leibniz-IZW) – together with Australian colleagues – was able to make a genuine new discovery on reproduction in the animal kingdom: They used ultrasound to show that swamp wallabies develop a new embryo before the birth of the previous offspring and thus show parallel pregnancies at different stages of development. Now, together with his colleague Dr Susanne Holtze, Hildebrandt showed previously unknown reproductive mechanisms also in olms: The fertilisation of the eggs of the rare amphibious cave dwellers takes place inside the female olm and the first developmental steps of the embryo occur already in the fallopian tube.
More than the sum of their genes – scientists call for a new perspective for population management of animals in zoos
Reproducing efficiently in captivity is crucial for the survival of many wildlife species, yet reproductive success is often lower than in the wild. Currently, many zoo population management strategies prioritise the genetic diversity of captive populations. Scientists now argue that a broader perspective is required which also includes behaviour, life-history, husbandry and environmental considerations. This would improve breeding success in zoos and the maintenance of the diversity of traits, behaviours, and phenotypes of threatened species. In a paper published recently in the scientific “Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research” they compare different population management approaches and conclude that prioritizing genetic factors to the exclusion of all others may have detrimental effects: For example, in small groups of unrelated adults, conflicts are likely to be more frequent than in larger groups with relatives present who had the chance to develop differentiated socialisation and learning repertoires.
Habitat modelling and estimation of potential territory numbers reveal where wolves may live in Germany
Germany potentially provides many suitable areas for grey wolf territories. This means that wolves may potentially settle down in large parts of the country where they were extinct until around the year 2000. It should be expected that they will disperse through other areas not delineated as suitable as well. These are the results of a study conducted by the Federal Documentation and Consultation Centre on Wolves (DBBW), the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Technical University of Berlin, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Research Institute for Wildlife Ecology (Vienna). The study was commissioned and published by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Germany.
Another piece of the puzzle about the longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes has been uncovered. Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes. It is highly likely that SOD2 not only detoxifies the reactive oxygen radicals in the cells, but also inhibits programmed cell death. The results were recently published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports of the Nature Group.
A research team at the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) developed a method to isolate and cryopreserve testicular cells. This will allow the safekeeping and biobanking of gametes and other cells of the male reproductive tract of threatened or endangered feline species. The findings have been published in the scientific journal "Cryobiology".
IZW in the media
Video by Vietnam TV, the national television broadcaster of Vietnam, about the field work of Leibniz-IZW and collaboration partners in Bidoup Nui Ba NP (www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NX2HlG5Ar4).
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
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
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 | 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 | 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