Population dynamics and conservation of large carnivores in anthropogenic landscapes

Large carnivores face significant challenges in human-dominated landscapes. We use individual-based models to analyse their population genetics, their population dynamics and their viability.

Project details
Duration: 02/2018 - 01/2021
Third-party funded: yes
Involved Department(s): Dept Ecological DynamicsDept Evolutionary Genetics
Leibniz-IZW Project Leader(s): Stephanie Kramer-Schadt (Dept Ecological Dynamics)
Leibniz-IZW Project Team: Moritz Wenzler, Patricia Calderón, Julie Louvrier  (all: Dept Ecological Dynamics), Joseph Premier (Dept Ecological Dynamics, Dept Evolutionary Genetics)
Consortium Partner(s): Nationalpark Bayrischer Wald, Dokumentations- und Beratungsstelle des Bundes zum Thema Wolf (DBBW), Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH (UFZ)
Current Funding Organisation: German Federal Environmental Foundation (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU), German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN),
The International Postdoc Initiative (IPODI) of the Technische Universität Berlin

Research Foci:

Understanding the environmental context
Improving population viability
Developing theories, methods, and tools


Several wildlife species face big challenges persisting in human-dominated landscapes. We use an individual-based model on a spatially-explicit basis to analyse their population dynamics, viability and connectivity as well as aspects of population genetics. Our aim is to support the decision-making process of conservation planning when it comes to wildlife management that foster long term viable populations in a landscape dominated by humans.

For example, one of our focus species is the biggest European cat species, the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx). The genetic viability of the reintroduced populations of this large carnivore has been called into question due to the weak genetic exchange. In this project we develop an existing population model to include individual genetics for testing conservation management scenarios in order to reveal the potential for enhancing the genetic viability of a Central European meta-population.

Further case studies are conducted on the wolf in Europe and the jaguar in Central America.

Selected Publications

Heurich M, Schultze-Naumburg J, Piacenza N, Magg N, Cerveny J, Engleder T, Herdtfelder M, Sladova M, Kramer-Schadt S (2018): Illegal hunting as a major driver of the source-sink dynamics of a reintroduced lynx population in Central Europe. BIOL CONSERV 224, 355-365. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2018.05.011.

Kramer-Schadt S, Wenzler M, Gras P, Knauer F (2020). Habitatmodellierung und Abschätzung der potenziellen Anzahl von Wolfsterritorien in Deutschland. BfN Skripten 556, 7-30. doi:10.19217/skr556.

Premier J, Fickel J, Heurich M, Kramer-Schadt S (2020) The boon and bane of boldness: movement syndrome as saviour and sink for population genetic diversity. MOV ECOL 8 (16). doi:10.1186/s40462-020-00204-y.

Radchuk V, Ims RA, Andreassen HP (2016): From individuals to population cycles: The role of extrinsic and intrinsic factors in rodent populations. ECOLOGY 97, 720-732. doi:10.1890/15-0756.1.

Struebig, MJ, Wilting A, Gaveau D, Mejaard E, Smith RJ, The Borneo Mammal and Modelling Consortium (IZW co-authors: Heckmann I, Hofer H, Lindenborn J, Niedballa J, Reinfelder V, Reusch C, Scharf AK), Fischer M, Metcalfe K, Kramer-Schadt S (2015): Targeted conservation safeguards a biodiversity hotspot from climate and land-cover change. CURR BIOL 25, 372-378. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.11.067.