Leibniz-IZW Seminars

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research regularly organizes scientific seminars on various topics, in which invited speakers or IZW scientists present their work in the form of a lecture. The free lectures take place in the lecture hall of the IZW and are also broadcast live via video.
Interested persons are cordially invited to attend the Leibniz-IZW seminars in person or online. You are welcome to sign up for our seminar newsletter at izwseminar@izw-berlin.de. The lectures will be held mostly in English.

Upcoming events

21th September 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Adam Clark (University of Graz), Host: Dr. Julie Louvrier
Measuring ecological stability in systems without static equilibria
Ecological stability refers to a range of concepts used to quantify how species and environments change over time and in response to disturbances. Most empirically tractable ecological stability metrics assume that systems have simple dynamics and static equilibria. However, ecological systems are typically complex and often lack static equilibria. To distinguish among these processes, we combine three existing approaches: state space models; delay embedding methods; and particle filtering. These variability estimates can be used to forecast dynamics, classify underlying sources of stochastic dynamics, and estimate the “exit time” before a state change takes place (e.g., local extinction events). Importantly, the time-delay embedding methods that we employ make very few assumptions about the functions governing deterministic dynamics, which facilitates applications in systems with limited data and a priori biological knowledge. We show that stability estimates based on raw observations can greatly overestimate temporal variability and fail to accurately forecast time to extinction. In contrast, joint application of state space modeling, delay embedding, and particle filters can help: (1) correctly quantify the contributions of deterministic versus stochastic variability; (2) successfully estimate “true” abundance dynamics; and (3) correctly forecast time to extinction. Our results therefore demonstrate the importance of accounting for effects of complex, nonstatic dynamics in studies of ecological stability and provide an empirically tractable and flexible toolkit for conducting these measurements.

22th September 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Nucharin Songsasen (Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Virginia, US), Host: Dr. Jennifer Schön
Species Conservation in a changing world: Integrating physiological knowledge to address conservation problems
Without Abstract

26th September 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Edzer Pebesma (University of Münster), Host: Dr. Alexandre Courtiol
Spatial Data Science with R in 2023
In this talk I will address several spatial data science topics that I have been working on over the last few years. These include a book that was recently published [1] which brings you the most common mistakes made in spatial data science, a very brief introduction to two packages for modern spatial data science (sf and stars), efforts to make accessing and processing large remote sensing archives more easy on platforms not run by big tech, using STAC and openEO [2], the challenge of sensibly using ML models to globally predict ecological variables [3], and reproducing and sharing workflows underlying scientific publications [4].
[1] https://r-spatial.org/book/ [2] see https://dataspace.copernicus.eu/ [3] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-29838-9 [4] https://doi.org/10.31223/X5XH0Z

27th September 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Marion Valeix (Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology & Laboratory of biometry and evolutionary ecology ), Host: Dr. Sarah Benhaiem
The fate of African large carnivores: a tale of interspecific interaction networks shaped by human footprint
My 23-year experience in ecological research in Hwange National Park, a beautiful African savanna ecosystem of Zimbabwe, has led me to realise the importance of considering the network of ecological interactions in which species are embedded to fully understand the impact of human practices and global changes on the structure and functioning of animal communities. Using past and present works, I will try to illustrate with practical examples this importance.
I will synthetize the findings of our collaborative research in Hwange on African lions, spotted hyaenas and wild dogs, with a focus on predator-prey interactions and intraguild carnivore interactions. I will highlight how management practices inside the protected area and human practices at the periphery affect these interactions and ultimately carnivore populations by (1) showing how the pumping of water, associated to a strong increase in large herbivore populations, and particularly in the elephant population, affected the spatial ecology of lions and the structure of the vegetation, which in turn influenced where lions killed their prey in the landscape; and (2) illustrating how, with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit of Oxford University, we showed that changes in the level of lion trophy hunting outside Hwange National Park led to changes in the abundance of the lion population inside the park, and in particular in the number of males and sub-adults. These changes indirectly likely influenced the hunting behaviour of lions, which ultimately had unsuspected repercussions on the hunting behaviour of other carnivores, such as hyaenas. Finally, I will share ideas about a current research project aiming at assessing large carnivore hunting success (using bio-logging recent developments) and how changes in climatic conditions may affect this one, with different expectations depending on the carnivore hunting mode.
Altogether, these examples of indirect interactions, environment-mediated interaction modification, and dynamic interactions highlight the need to consider the network of interspecific interactions operating in a community to fully understand the functioning of this community.

4th October 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Jesse S. Lewis (Arizona State University) Host: Dr. Julie Louvrier
Wildlife populations across ecological gradients: case studies in urbanization and fire ecology
Animal populations and communities vary across ecological gradients, which has important implications for the management and conservation of wildlife. We will discuss two important ecological gradients in the western United States: urbanization and fire severity. First, I will discuss several studies in my research lab that evaluate the effects of urbanization across the Phoenix Valley, Arizona on terrestrial mammals and birds, bats, and scorpions. Second, we will review how fire severity from a large mixed-severity fire in the White Mountains of Arizona influences plant (aspen and Gambel oak), carnivore, and herbivore populations. Both studies will be presented in the framework of whether species increase, decrease, or peak at intermediate levels of disturbance.

18th October 2023, 1 pm
Prof. Niels Martin Schmidt (Aarhus University Denmark), Host: Dr. Gábor Czirják
Title & Abstract tba

1th November 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Andrew King (SHOAL group), Host: Dr. Oliver Hoener
Title & Abstract tba

10th November 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Tzachi Hagai (Tel Aviv University), Host: Dr. Gábor Czirják
Bat tolerance and resistance to viral disease - lessons from comparative genomics
Abstract tba

13th December 2023, 1 pm
Dr. Matthieu Authier (La Rochelle Université-CNRS/Adera), Host: Dr. Sarah Benhaiem
Common for how long? Reduced viability of common dolphins in the Northeast Atlantic
Marine megafauna are declining in abundance worldwide due to the impact of anthropic activities, among other drivers. Despite ambitious conservation targets, their population viability is at risk.  Early demographic triggers are needed to favor proactive approaches where measures can be taken before the population is close to extinction. The common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is currently at high risk of by-catch in the Northeast Atlantic. Using a novel modelling approach and age-at-death data collected on stranded animals on the Atlantic seaboard of France, we evidenced a decline over the last two decades in survivorship and advanced age at sexual maturity. We evidenced a decline in the long-term viability of a wide-ranging and mobile marine mammal species using a novel framework that can reveal demographic tipping points.


Constanze Wiechert
Tel: +49(0)30 5168-336
E-Mail: wiechert@izw-berlin.de, izwseminar@izw-berlin.de

Christine Reusch (substitute)
Tel. +49(0)30 5168-124
E-Mail: izwseminar@izw-berlin.de

Stefanie Lenz
Tel: +49(0)30 5168-459
E-Mail: lenz@izw-berlin.de

Last Update: 20th September 2023