The Leibniz-IZW regular publishes press releases on key findings and insights from its research and on events, awards or personalia. The press releases are distributed directly to journalists on our press release distribution mailing list. Press releases are also disseminated through the distribution services Informationsdienst Wissenschaft, AlphaGalileo and EurekAlert. Are you interested in receiving our press releases directly via e-mail? In this case please send us an email to seet@izw-berlin.de.

Current press releases

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

Serow in the Annamite Mountains (Photo: Andrew Tilker, Leibniz-IZW, WWF-CarBi, XSNPA)
Serow in the Annamite Mountains (Photo: Andrew Tilker, Leibniz-IZW, WWF-CarBi, XSNPA)

The international consortium of scientists and conservationists working towards preventing the extinction of the northern white rhino through advanced assisted reproduction technologies is pleased to announce that in March and April 2021, four additional northern white rhino embryos were produced. This is the most successful series of procedures – from oocyte collection in Kenya to in vitro fertilisation and cryopreservation in Italy – the team of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Safari Park Dvůr Králové, Kenya Wildlife Service, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Avantea has ever conducted. Additionally, the team confirmed the successful sterilisation of the southern white rhino bull Owuan, which was conducted in December 2020. The bull will now be introduced to the Ol Pejeta southern white rhino females that have been identified as potential surrogate mothers for future northern white rhino offspring.

Oocyte collection on March 28, 2021, in Kenya (Photo: Rio the Photographer)
Oocyte collection on March 28, 2021, in Kenya (Photo: Rio the Photographer)

The international consortium of scientists and conservationists working towards preventing the extinction of the northern white rhino through advanced assisted reproduction technologies is pleased to announce that in March and April 2021, four additional northern white rhino embryos were produced. This is the most successful series of procedures – from oocyte collection in Kenya to in vitro fertilisation and cryopreservation in Italy – the team of Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Safari Park Dvůr Králové, Kenya Wildlife Service, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Avantea has ever conducted. Additionally, the team confirmed the successful sterilisation of the southern white rhino bull Owuan, which was conducted in December 2020. The bull will now be introduced to the Ol Pejeta southern white rhino females that have been identified as potential surrogate mothers for future northern white rhino offspring.

Dead bat below a wind turbine (Photo: Christian Voigt)
Dead bat below a wind turbine (Photo: Christian Voigt)

In order to assess the risk of bats dying at wind turbines, it is common practice to record the acoustic activity of bats within the operating range of the rotor blades. For this purpose, ultrasonic detectors are attached to the nacelles of the mast top. In a recent analysis, a team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) concludes that the effectiveness of this acoustic monitoring is insufficient to reliably predict mortality risk, especially for bats at large turbines. They therefore recommend installing supplementary ultrasonic detectors at other locations on the wind turbines and developing additional techniques such as radar and thermal imaging cameras for monitoring. The results of their analysis are published in the scientific journal “Mammal Review”.