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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

Newborn southern white rhino, 1.5 hours after birth in Salzburg Zoo. Photo: Robert Hermes
Newborn southern white rhino, 1.5 hours after birth in Salzburg Zoo. Photo: Robert Hermes

When exactly is a rhino offspring born? How long does the birth actually take? Does parturition proceed normally? Answers to these and similar questions are difficult for experts in zoological gardens, since baseline knowledge of the reproduction cycle of all rhinoceros species, especially its final stage, the parturition, is scarce. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) together with zoo veterinarians closely monitored 19 pregnant white rhinos in six European zoos and recorded timelines for pre-birth development, milk production, hormone levels, gestation length and documented the onset of parturition, different stages of labour and foetal position at birth. These data significantly improves the knowledge base for birth management and obstetrics in rhinos and will help to reduce the number of stillbirths or perinatal problems in zoological gardens. The results are published in the scientific journal “Theriogenology”.

Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), photo: René Janssen
Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), photo: René Janssen

Calling in the ultrasonic range enables small bats to orient themselves in the dark and track down tiny insects. Louder calls travel farther, improving a bat’s ability to detect their prey. It was long assumed that echolocation does not contribute much to energy expenditure in flight because individuals simply couple their calls with the beat of their wings. Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin have now shown in a paper in the scientific journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” that high intensity echolocation calls are by no means free and substantially contribute to energy expenditure. Bats must therefore find a balance between energy expenditure and effective echolocation and use the latter economically.

Schlagopfer Rauhautfledermaus Foto: CC Voigt, Leibniz-IZW
Schlagopfer Rauhautfledermaus Foto: CC Voigt, Leibniz-IZW

Wind energy is considered to be one of the most promising forms of renewable energy. Yet, each year, wind turbines  are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of airborne animals such as bats which die from collisions with turbine blades. To find a constructive way out of this “green-green” dilemma, companies building and running wind turbines might have to work together with environmental experts and conservationists. Yet a lack of trust between them is likely to hinder effective and creative collaboration. In an article published in Energy Reports, scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) show that shared values alone are not sufficient to build mutual trust between these groups, as beliefs and emotions hold a stronger sway for the collaboration. The authors argue that an improved awareness of each others’ beliefs and emotions in relation to the construction and operation of wind turbines can benefit their work in this field and help find a way out of the dilemma.

Owston´s civet, Photo: Leibniz-IZW
Owston´s civet, Photo: Leibniz-IZW

New surveys have revealed surprising mammal biodiversity in Bidoup Nui Ba National Park (Bidoup Nui Ba NP), a large protected area located in the southern part of the Annamites range. The presence of numerous rare and endangered mammals in Bidoup Nui Ba NP provides a ray of hope for the long-term conservation of Vietnam’s unique biodiversity.

 

3D reconstruction of a thalattosuchian skull. image: G. Fritsch
3D reconstruction of a thalattosuchian skull. image: G. Fritsch

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“.

Carcass of Nathusius' pipistrelle bat in front of a wind turbine. Photo: Christian Voigt
Carcass of Nathusius' pipistrelle bat in front of a wind turbine. Photo: Christian Voigt

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.

Ovum pickup with the southern white rhino cow Makena at Serengeti Park Hodenhagen. Photo: Serengeti Park Hodenhagen
Ovum pickup with the southern white rhino cow Makena at Serengeti Park Hodenhagen. Photo: 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.

Photo: Anne Ipsen

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.

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