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

Collared cheetah in the Namib Desert (Photo: Ruben Portas)
Collared cheetah in the Namib Desert (Photo: Ruben Portas)

Anthrax is an infectious bacterial disease endemic in some parts of Africa. It affects people, livestock as well as wildlife. Using GPS telemetry data, a team of scientists from the Cheetah Research Project of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) reconstructed a special case of anthrax infection in Namibia: Three free-ranging cheetahs in the Namib Desert died within 24 hours after feeding on a mountain zebra that tested positive for the disease. The zebra is the first described case of a wild animal infected with anthrax in this arid region. The case also shows that there might be previously unknown risks to cheetah populations in the desert. It is described in detail in the scientific journal “Frontiers in Veterinary Science”.

On September 26th not only the elections of the German parliament will take place, but as well of the Parliament of Berlin. With a position paper developed under the umbrella of Berlin Research 50, the non-university institution of Berlin emphasize what is important for science in Berlin. The position paper contains 10 demands that should be implemented by the future senate to strengthen Berlin as science metropolis.

Europasian golden oriole (By Kookaburra 81 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59190887)
Europasian golden oriole (By Kookaburra 81 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59190887)

The ability to adjust to changing environmental conditions is an essential prerequisite for species to cope with climate change. Using stable isotope analysis, a team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) now unravelled the link between wintering destinations of Eurasian Golden Oriole migrations and rainfall intensities in potential wintering grounds in sub-Saharan Africa. Analysing historical feathers from 1818 to 1971, they identified two distinct wintering areas whose use depended on prevailing rainfall intensity. The link between the key migratory overwintering destination and local precipitation demonstrates the dependence of these birds on rainfall in sub-Saharan Africa – a parameter that might change with climate change and related processes of desertification. The results are published in the scientific journal “Global Change Biology”.

Searching for oocytes in the field lab in Kenya (photo: BioRescue/Rio the photographer)
Searching for oocytes in the field lab in Kenya (photo: BioRescue/Rio the photographer)

In another exciting step towards the future of the northern white rhino, three more pure northern white rhino embryos have been created by the global team of scientists and conservationists working to save the species. This time, they were also able to use sperm from a different bull, improving the genetic diversity of the embryos.

Gefriersperma von Rindern Foto: wikipedia Uwe Muell
Gefriersperma von Rindern Foto: wikipedia Uwe Muell

A research team at the Humboldt University Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) developed an agent-based computer model to simulate the journey of sperm cells through the female genital tract. Key factors for a successful transit could be identified without the use of animal experiments and were published in the scientific journal "PLoS Computational Biology".

Spotted hyena with Maasai pastoralist and cattle in Ngorongoro Crater (Photo: Oliver Höner)
Spotted hyena with Maasai pastoralist and cattle in Ngorongoro Crater (Photo: Oliver Höner)

Emotions towards and cultural importance of large carnivores are better predictors of the acceptance of management strategies by local communities than the extent of livestock depredation. This is the result of a new interdisciplinary investigation led by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW). They conducted 100 questionnaires with Maasai pastoralists in Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania, focusing on three large carnivore species (spotted hyenas, lions and leopards) and three management strategies (no action, relocation and lethal control). An emphasis on socio-cultural variables is key to understanding human-carnivore relationships and challenges the traditional focus on livestock depredation in human-carnivore conflict research, the scientists conclude. The findings are published in the open access scientific journal “Frontiers in Conservation Science”.

A leech in Southeast Asia (photo: Andrew Tilker)
A leech in Southeast Asia (photo: Andrew Tilker)

In a new scientific investigation headed by the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), water from African and Mongolian waterholes as well as bloodmeals from Southeast Asian leeches were assessed for the ability to retrieve mammalian viruses without the need to find and catch the mammals. The scientists analysed the samples using high throughput sequencing to identify known viruses as well as viruses new to science. Both approaches proved to be suitable tools for pandemic prevention research as they allow finding and monitoring reservoirs of wildlife viruses. For example, a novel coronavirus most likely associated with Southeast Asian deer species was identified. The results are published in the scientific journal “Methods in Ecology and Evolution”.

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.