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Current press releases

Church parish register, Foto: University of Turku
Church parish register, Foto: University of Turku

Are women who have twins more fertile? While previous studies concluded they are, a detailed analysis of more than 100,000 births from pre-industrial Europe by an international team of scientists shows they are not. The results of the study are now published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Tayra (Eira barbara), Foto: Shutterstock
Tayra (Eira barbara), Foto: Shutterstock

Mustelids are the most ecologically and taxonomically diverse family within the order Carnivora. From the tayra in the neotropics to the wolverine in the subarctic, they inhabit a variety of ecological niches and developed corresponding species-specific traits related to their diet, reproductive strategy and morphology. An international team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) conducted a comparative analysis of whole genomes of several mustelids to obtain insights into the molecular basis of these adaptations. The team found that multiple sources of genomic variation contributed to candidate genes, including those that change the number, position, orientation or size of genes in a species’ genome. The latter forms of genomic variation are frequently neglected in genome studies of wildlife species, and the authors argue that this needs to change. The results are published in the scientific journal “Molecular Ecology”.

Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus_sumatrensis) Author Jastram B_Leibniz-IZW
Sumatran rhino (Dicerorhinus_sumatrensis) Author Jastram B_Leibniz-IZW

IPB University and Leibniz-IZW signed memorandum of understanding to accelerate conservation science and education

Berlin, Germany; 19.05.2022 — Today, the Indonesian “Institut Pertanian Bogor University (IPB University)” and the German “Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW)” signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) witnessed by the Indonesian Ambassador, the representative of the Directorate General of Nature Conservation and Ecosystem Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and the Director of the German Zoo Leipzig. The MOU is outlining a new collaborative strategy for advancing future scientific and educational solutions to local and global sustainability and biodiversity conservation challenges.

Hyenas at clan communal den in Tanzania (photo: Sarah Benhaiem)
Hyenas at clan communal den in Tanzania (photo: Sarah Benhaiem)

Spotted hyenas adjust to a decreased presence of migratory prey in their territories induced by climate change. This is the key result of a paper recently published in the scientific journal Ecosphere. A team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), Germany, and the Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology (CEFE), France, investigated the relationship between rainfall volume and migratory herbivore presence in hyena clan territories in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, and the responses of lactating hyenas to recent changes in the climate-prey relationship. Using an observation-based dataset spanning three decades, they showed that the substantial increase in annual rainfall during this time halved the presence of migratory herds inside the hyena clan territories, but did not affect the ability of female hyenas to access their prey and successfully nurse their young. This suggests a high plasticity of foraging behaviour of hyenas in response to changing environmental conditions.

Red deer and European fallow deer in Germany (photo: Dirk Martins, unsplash)
Red deer and European fallow deer in Germany (photo: Dirk Martins, unsplash)

In North America, SARS-CoV-2 has spread from humans to white-tailed deer. The deer are now considered SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs and may even spill virus back to humans. A science team headed by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Charité have now shown that in Germany and Austria this has not happened as all deer tested were negative for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The research is reported in the journal “Microorganisms” in a special issue on Viruses of Wild Mammals.

Cover, Must-Knows, Leibniz-Gemeinschaft
Cover, Must-Knows, Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

"10 Must Knows from Biodiversity Science”, ranging from climate stress for German forests, the restructuring of agriculture to the corona virus that has jumped from animals to humans, are now published for the first time. More than 45 experts from the Leibniz Research Network Biodiversity and colleagues have compiled this inventory on the preservation of nature as the basis of human life. In the run-up to the World Summit on Nature – the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China – the report is intended to invite dialogue, the researchers say. At the same time, they voice clear policy demands.

Nabire at Safari Park Dvůr Králové (photo: Hynek Glos)
Nabire at Safari Park Dvůr Králové (photo: Hynek Glos)

The BioRescue consortium develops advanced methods of assisted reproduction to save the northern white rhino from extinction. Oocytes from the last remaining females play a key role in this mission, as embryos are created from them by in-vitro fertilisation with sperm from deceased bulls. Within BioRescue, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in Berlin is working with partners in Munich and Kyushu (Japan) on a second strategy for obtaining oocytes – developing them from stem cells. The team now created induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from northern white rhino Nabire and thereby substantially advanced the process of creating iPSCs and differentiating them into primed and naïve-like stem cells. This important step towards creating artificial oocytes from stem cells is described in the scientific journal “Scientific Reports”.

Eber-Spermien, Foto: K. Müller, Leibniz-IZW
Eber-Spermien, Foto: K. Müller, Leibniz-IZW

A scientific team from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and Leipzig University conducted a comparative analysis of lipid profiles of sperm to obtain insights into their susceptibility to damaging oxidation as well as the antioxidant potential in the semen of different species. The team found that there were major differences in the composition of lipids in sperm and seminal fluid, with more closely related species such as domestic cattle, domestic pig and domestic horse showing similarities in lipid profile. This contrasts with the lipid composition of erythrocytes and blood plasma from different species, which is relatively uniform. The results help to improve our understanding of the effect of oxidative stress on reproductive processes and improve assisted reproduction measures in future. They were published in the scientific journal "PLOS ONE".