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

Schlagopfer an Windkraftanlage, Autor: Christian Voigt
Schlagopfer an Windkraftanlage, Autor: Christian Voigt

The replacement of fossil and nuclear energy sources for electricity production by renewables such as wind, sun, water and biomass is a cornerstone of Germany’s energy policy. Amongst these, wind energy production is the most important component. However, energy production from wind is not necessarily ecologically sustainable. It requires relatively large spaces for installation and operation of turbines, and bats and birds die after collisions with rotors in significant numbers. For these reasons, the location and operation of wind energy plants are often in direct conflict with the legal protection of endangered species. The almost unanimous opinion of experts from local and central government authorities, environmental NGOs and expert offices is that the current mechanisms for the protection of bats in wind power projects are insufficient. This is one conclusion from a survey by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) published in the "Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy".

Silver-backed Chevrotain, Autor: Andrew Tilker/Leibniz-IZW
Silver-backed Chevrotain, Autor: Andrew Tilker/Leibniz-IZW

First-ever Photos and Footage of Silver-backed Chevrotain Confirm First Rediscovery of Lost Mammal on Global Wildlife Conservation’s ‘Most Wanted’ List

Removing snares, Author: Andrew Tilker/Leibniz-IZW
Removing snares, Author: Andrew Tilker/Leibniz-IZW

In Southeast Asia, illegal hunting is a more immediate threat to wildlife than forest degradation

Varied program at the Leibniz-IZW for the Berlin Science Week (Photos: unsplash.com/Leibniz-IZW/Berlin Science Week)
Varied program at the Leibniz-IZW for the Berlin Science Week (Photos: unsplash.com/Leibniz-IZW/Berlin Science Week)

The “Berlin Science Week" will take place from November 1 to November 10, 2019 at research institutions in Berlin. The festival brings together top researchers from all over the world with the local science community and the public in Germany’s capital. The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) is participating in the festival with a lecture programme. The lectures on infectious diseases in animals, service dogs for wildlife research and the use of citizen sciences in biodiversity research will take place on November 5, 2019 in the lecture hall of the Leibniz-IZW. Admission is free.

White-tailed sea eagle with fledgling in nest. Photo: Oliver Krone
White-tailed sea eagle with fledgling in nest. Photo: Oliver Krone

The white-tailed sea eagle is known for reacting sensitively to disturbances. However, research into which factors have which effects on the animals and how these impacts influence breeding success has so far only just begun. A research team led by Dr Oliver Krone from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) has now measured concentrations of the hormone corticosterone and its metabolic products in white-tailed sea eagles in northern Germany and correlated these values with potential causes of “stress”. They found that the levels of corticosterone in the birds' urine are higher the closer a breeding pair's nest is to paths or roads. From this, the scientists derive implications for the management and protection of white-tailed sea eagles, in particular for protection zones around the nests. The study was published in the journal "General and Comparative Endocrinology".

Egyptian mongoose. Photo: Artemy Voikhansky, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55825509
Egyptian mongoose. Photo: Artemy Voikhansky, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55825509

While hair analysis has become routine in humans – for example for the detection of prolonged drug or medication abuse – it has been little used in animals to date. Scientists led by Alexandre Azevedo and Katarina Jewgenow of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) have now demonstrated that the "stress" hormone cortisol is deposited in hair of wild mongooses in Portugal and determined baselines for cortisol in these carnivores. Age, sex and storage time of the samples were reflected in the cortisol values, but not the season or reproductive status of the females. It is now possible to investigate whether different habitats and changed living conditions, such as the return of the Iberian lynx, place a particular burden on the mongooses. The results were recently published in the scientific journal "PLoS ONE".

Northern-White-Rhino-Recovery Embryo-Development Photo: BioRescue/Avantea
Northern-White-Rhino-Recovery Embryo-Development Photo: BioRescue/Avantea

For decades the story of the northern white rhinoceros has been a tale of decline. The number of individuals shrank down to only two in 2018, rendering complete extinction as only a matter of time. An international consortium of scientists and conservationists has now achieved a milestone in assisted reproduction that may be a pivotal turning point in the fate of these magnificent animals. Using eggs collected from the two remaining females and frozen sperm from deceased males, they successfully created two northern white rhino embryos. The embryos are now stored in liquid nitrogen to be transferred into a surrogate mother in the near future.

Oocyte Fertilization Process (Photo by Ami Vitale)
Ovum Fertilization Process (Photo by Ami Vitale)

After successfully harvesting ten eggs from the world’s last two northern white rhinos, Najin and Fatu, on 22 August in Kenya, the international consortium of scientists and conservationists has announced that seven of the ten eggs (four from Fatu and three from Najin) have successfully matured and been artificially inseminated. This was achieved through ICSI (Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection) with frozen sperm from two different northern white rhino bulls, Suni and Saut, on Sunday, 25 August. This is the next critical step in hopefully creating viable embryos that can be frozen and later transferred to southern white rhino surrogate mothers.