Wildlife Research and Conservation 2023

9th - 11th September 2023
in Berlin, Germany

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded as part of the Union’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dieses Projekt wird kofinanziert durch den Europäischen Fonds für regionale Entwicklung (EFRE). Dieses Vorhaben wurde als Teil der Reaktion der Union auf die Covid-19-Pandemie finanziert.

The full conference programme is now available!

Conference description

Wildlife Research and Conservation 2023 (WRC2023) is jointly organised by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and WWF Germany; it is the successor of the International Conference on Behaviour, Physiology and Genetics of Wildlife.

WRC2023 aims to foster an exchange of ideas between wildlife scientists from different disciplines with an interest in mammalian species, and to present the latest advances and stimulate future research. The plenary sessions will cover a diverse range of fascinating topics such as conservation genomics, population sustainability, ethical aspects in conservation research, population responses to disturbances, the use of artificial intelligence in conservation research, and human-wildlife-interactions. In addition, scientists of the Leibniz-IZW will organise hands-on workshops, providing new perspectives on structural equation modeling and genome analysis methods useful for species conservation studies.

The conference will start on Saturday, 9th September 2023 with plenary sessions, a science slam and a poster pasta networking event in the evening. The second day of plenary sessions will be concluded with a conference banquet. On the last conference day, poster prizes will be awarded to the authors of the best posters during the closing ceremony. The conference programme will be complemented by an extra day of satellite workshops on 8th September.

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Conference venue

Henry Ford Building
Garystr. 35
14195 Berlin-Dahlem


To register for the conference, go to our registration page:

Registration fees:

Early registration fee, regular: 295 Euro (until 25th June 2023)
Early registration fee, reduced: 175 Euro* (until 25th June 2023)

Late registration fee, regular: 375 Euro (after 25th June 2023)
Late registration fee, reduced: 235 Euro* (after 25th June 2023)

The registration fee includes public transport in Berlin for 4 days (8th - 11th September 2023)! See below for further information.

*The reduced rate applies to participants resident in and affiliated with organisations of non-high-income countries (see World Bank classification) and for students of any country.

Included in the conference registration fee:

Public transport in Berlin and the suburban area is organised in three different fare zones, A for the centre, B for the surrounding inner-city area and C for the suburban area where the Berlin Brandenburg airport BER is located. There are different ticket options depending on the travelled area and number of stations. Does that sound complicated to you? No worries, we got you covered!

The conference fee does not only include participation in all three conference days, the coffee and lunch breaks as well as the poster pasta evening, we will also provide you with an included special discounted 4 day ticket (8th -11th September) for all Berlin city and suburban fare zones in advance. You will receive your ticket available for download and printing before the conference, so you are ready to use all public transport (bus, subway, urban railway, regional train, tram and ferry) upon arrival. More information on travel options and how to get to the conference venue will follow.

Forms of presentations

Oral presentations

Oral presentations will consist of a 10 minutes talk followed by 3 minutes discussion. 2 minutes will be reserved to allow a smooth change between successive speakers. Oral presentations will be allocated to one of the sessions.


Posters should not exceed 84 cm (width) x 118.9 cm (height) (A0) and need to be in portrait format. They will be fixed on poster boards. All poster authors will have the opportunity to present their posters during the poster-pasta-party on the first conference evening (Saturday, 9th September).

Science slam presentations

Science slam presentations will consist of 5-8 minutes talk (depending on the number of presentations). 2 minutes will be reserved to allow a smooth change between successive speakers. These presentations should be creative, entertaining and easy to follow. Afterwards, the crowd votes for the best slam. The science slam will take place on Saturday, 9th September. You are welcome to present the same topic as a poster/talk and also as a science slam talk.



Population responses to disturbances


The Anthropocene presents wildlife with an unprecedented number and variety of disturbances. Quantifying population responses to disturbances is thus crucial to protect wildlife. This session invites contributions that assess the responses or resilience of wildlife populations to disturbances, at the ecological scale. We welcome a variety of methods and approaches (e.g. capture-mark-recapture, matrix population models, individual-based models, patch occupancy models), based on empirical or simulated datasets.

Plenary speaker:

Marlène Gamelon (Centre National de La Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Lyon, France & Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway)

Session chairs:

Sarah Benhaiem (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Viktoriia Radchuk (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)

Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conservation research


This conference session focuses on the need for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conservation research to make sense of the large amounts of data generated by bio-loggers, sensors, and other digital tools. Through AI, we can gain ecological insights, uncover relevant patterns in ecosystems, and gain an understanding of animal behaviour on larger scales. Can AI help us to achieve a better evidence-based conservation, advance conservation efforts, fight environmental crime, and detect wildlife diseases? This session will explore the many ways AI can be used in modern conservation research.

Plenary speaker:

Theresa Götz (Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden, Germany)

Session chairs:

Anne Berger (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Jörg Melzheimer (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)

Population sustainability


Many natural and captive populations, including those in zoos and aquariums, are not projected to meet the demographic and genetic goals required for long term population sustainability. In this symposium we set out to highlight the science underpinning the management of small populations and showcase some of the scientific approaches aimed at addressing population viability and sustainability challenges.

Plenary speaker:

Mirte Bosse (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Session chairs:

Marcus Clauss (EAZA & University of Zurich, Switzerland), Alexandre Courtiol (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Camila Mazzoni (Leibniz-IZW & Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research, Germany), Zjef Pereboom (EAZA & Centre for Research and Conservation of Antwerp Zoo and Planckendael Zoo, Belgium)

Ethical aspects in conservation research


Novel conservation strategies comprising a broad range of measures and ranging from basic research on ecology and physiology to advanced assisted reproduction technologies (aART) and stem-cell associated techniques (SCAT) in wildlife require a new type of animal interventions and management. This approach for saving especially critically endangered species warrants the integration of the various stakeholders and an open public discourse by applying a new dimension of scientific ethical wildlife research.

Plenary speaker:

Maneesha Deckha (University of Victoria, BC, Canada)

Session chairs:

Thomas Hildebrandt (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Susanne Holtze (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)

Conservation genetics and genomics of wildlife


Conservation genetics and genomics studies apply genetic principles and techniques to the study and management of biodiversity, with the goal of preserving genetic diversity and promoting the survival of species and populations. This involves the use of genetic information to understand the evolutionary history, population structure, and adaptation of species, as well as to inform conservation planning and management. Conservation genetics also aims to minimize genetic erosion and loss due to habitat destruction, overexploitation, introduction of non-native species, and other threats to biodiversity.

Plenary speaker:

José A. Godoy (Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Spain)

Session chairs:

Jörns Fickel (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Daniel Förster (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)

Human wildlife interactions


A large variety of interactions occur when human communities share land with wild animals. While some interactions include peaceful coexistence, others involve negative perceptions towards wildlife species and injuries for both, humans or wildlife. During the last decades, many prevention and mitigation solutions to reduce human-wildlife conflicts were developed and applied, with different successes. For this session, we invite contributions covering all aspects of human wildlife interactions, including conflict prevention, mitigation and monitoring approaches and their performance measurement, socio-cultural aspects of wildlife perceptions and conflicts, and benefits of active project participation of affected stakeholders.

Plenary speaker:

Jenny Anne Glikman (Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados IESA-CSIC, Spain)

Session chairs:

Moritz Klose (WWF, Germany), Bettina Wachter (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)

Science slam


Science slams offer a platform where scientists can present their research in an entertaining, creative and understandable way. Our science slam will take place on the first conference day (Saturday, 9th September). The audience will mainly consist of the WRC conference participants (scientists and PhD students), but also of approx. 30 school students (age 16-18) interested in science. The crowd, especially those not familiar with the subject, will get an exclusive and comprehensible insight into research projects and results. The speakers are free to choose how to make their presentations comprehensible and descriptive.

We welcome contributions from all fields of behaviour, ecology, physiology, conservation and conservation genetics. Participants are welcome to present the same topic as a poster and also as a science slam talk. Each science slam presentation will last 5-8 minutes (depending on the number of talks) and should be creative, entertaining and easy to follow. Afterwards, the audience votes for the best slam.


Plenary speakers

Marlène Gamelon

Marlène Gamelon is a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in the Biometry and Evolutionary Biology Lab (LBBE) in Lyon, France and at the Centre for Biodiversity Dynamics at the University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. She is a population ecologist interested in understanding how free-ranging animal populations respond to environmental changes. Her research primarily relies on individual long-term monitoring of natural populations, with implications in conservation and management.

Affiliation: Centre National de La Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Lyon, France & Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

Plenary talk: Can natural populations be resilient to environmental changes and harvesting?

Natural populations live in an environment that is rapidly changing. Alongside the changes in mean values, temporal variation in temperature, precipitation, etc. also increases, leading to more frequent occurrences of extreme weather events. Understanding species’ abilities to cope with this increasing environmental variation is crucial in the current context of global changes. Demographic buffering can allow populations to persist in a changing environment by reducing the effects of environmental variation on the long-run growth rate. I will present a review of empirical studies that tested this hypothesis, shedding lights on how and when species may persist in an increasingly variable environment. In addition to environmental changes, exploited populations are affected by harvest, with removal of individuals through fishing and hunting. I will discuss to what extent harvesting and environmental changes can interact with each other (the so called “harvest-interaction hypothesis”) and how harvesting can amplify environmentally-induced population fluctuations and increase extinction risk. From a long-term monitoring of an ungulate population that is harvested and influenced by extreme weather events, I will then provide an empirical test of this hypothesis and will discuss the implications according to species’ life history strategy and harvesting strategy.

Theresa Götz

Prof. Dr. Dr. Theresa Götz studied Physics at the University of Regensburg and did a PhD in Physics at the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg. Afterwards she did a second PhD in information science at the University of Regensburg. Both theses were in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence. She is working as a chief scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen. Since 2022 she is professor at the Technical University of Applied Sciences in Amberg-Weiden.

Affiliation: Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Amberg-Weiden, Germany

Plenary talk: How can the technology behind ChatGpt help protect the environment?

Transformer neural networks - the technology behind ChatGPT - are one of the most impressive advances in artificial intelligence. These networks represent a new approach to processing time-dependent data and have experienced rapid development in recent years. The impressive advances in the use of transformer neural networks have the potential to revolutionize a wide range of applications in different fields as well as in environmental protection.

Unlike traditional sequence-to-sequence methods, Transformer Neural Networks do not use RNNs (Recurrent Neural Networks) or LSTM (Long-Term-Short-Term Memory), thereby abandoning the concept of sequence, making them particularly powerful. Instead, they use an attention mechanism to determine the relationships between parts of a data set and capture the context. This enables them to solve difficult tasks such as machine translation, summaries, text generation, similarity detection and much more.

In this lecture, the basic concept behind ChatGPT will be explained and then various examples from the field of wildlife research and conservation will be presented.

Mirte Bosse

Mirte Bosse is assistant professor in conservation genomics at VU Amsterdam and Wageningen University. She is fascinated by the story about our history that is written in our DNA. Reading the genome as a history book reveals a wealth of information about the past – but also holds promises for the future. She build her expertise in population and conservation genomics in wildlife and livestock. Her work focuses on use of genome sequences to obtain insight into the history and potential future of populations. She is particular interested in understanding how demographic fluctuations, hybridization and selection shape patterns of genetic diversity along the genome, and how we can use sequence-derived information to facilitate conservation management.  Mirte's genomics work had led to refined sequence-derived measures of genetic health and diversity in numerous livestock populations, particularly in chicken and pigs. Building upon this expertise, she now extends her efforts to the conservation of endangered species such as warty pigs, Asian elephants, and red pandas. By leveraging sequence-derived information, she strives to safeguard these fragile species and ensure their survival for future generations.

Affiliation: Wageningen University & Research - Animal Breeding and Genomics, The Netherlands

Plenary talk: Decoding the past to safeguard the future

Zoo populations can form a valuable reservoir for threatened species for preservation and potential reintroduction. Therefore, captive populations need to be sustainable and zoo populations of threatened species need to be managed such that genetic diversity is maintained, inbreeding minimized, and hybridization avoided. Typically, captive population sizes are small, with generally only a few individuals per zoo which may pose several risks to the genetic integrity of the population, such as lower genetic diversity and increased inbreeding rates. Likewise, ex situ populations are generally made up of a small number of founders, thus increasing the risk of deleterious alleles becoming expressed, leading to inbreeding depression. Additionally, ex situ populations may have diverged from the original wild population due to random genetic drift and inbreeding, hybridisation, artificial selection, and they may have adapted to the captive environment. Novel genomic technologies have proven value to evaluate population sustainability and reintroduction potential in EEP programmes. The DNA sequence can provide important information about unknown relatedness, inbreeding and harmful mutations when lineage-specific malformations seem to pop up in the population, but also predict what will happen to genetic viability in the future. Besides these practical issues, full genomes enable us to dive further into the evolutionary history of these species that is written in their genome sequence. Unraveling wild population structure, evolutionary history and local adaptation ensures that when EEP animals contribute to in-situ populations their fit to local genetic diversity is optimized. This plenary highlights how expanding the genomics toolbox for endangered species supports the coordination of EEP programmes.

José A. Godoy

José A. Godoy is a molecular ecologist and conservation geneticist applying genomic data and tools to understand the genomic and fitness consequences of species decline and fragmentation, and to support species conservation through genetic monitoring and management. He is a researcher at Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD-CSIC), Sevilla, Spain, a scientific advisor of the Spanish Ministry of Environment for the Iberian lynx and the Iberian imperial eagle, and a member of Conservation Genetics Specialists Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CGSG-IUCN).

Affiliation: Estación Biológica de Doñana, CSIC, Spain

Plenary talk: The role of genomics in the conservation success story of the iconic Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx was at the brink of extinction by the end of the 20th century, but is now steadily recovering, providing an amazing conservation success story. Such a spectacular recovery has been possible thanks to a sustained funding by successive LIFE projects, and the successful implementation of both in situ and ex situ programs, which are culminating with an ambitious reintroduction program. Our work with genetic markers and whole genome data suggests that genetic factors contributed to the decline and hampered early conservation efforts, and that their proper management is now contributing to the recovery. The species is one of the least genetically diverse, and ancient and historical data suggest this is the result of a combination of small long-term effective sizes, historical bottlenecks, and the fragmentation and local extirpation occurring during the last century. Negative effects of inbreeding and low genetic diversity include reduced reproduction and survival, and several genetic disorders have reached moderate frequencies, including an idiopathic juvenile epilepsy. Genomic data provide evidence for the accumulation of moderately deleterious variation as a short-term effect of bottlenecks, and also for the long-term purging of highly deleterious variation. Genetic management has included the mixing of the two genetically differentiated remnant populations, both in captivity and through translocations. This has resulted in the genetic rescue of the highly inbred Doñana population, driven mostly by a single highly-successful translocated male and mediated by a higher reproductive success of admixed individuals. The captive breeding program has succeeded in capturing and preserving extant genetic variation and is providing 30-40 animals per year for reintroductions since 2015, and released captive-born individuals are showing high survival and successful reproduction in the wild. The latest LIFE project “Lynxconnect” is implementing an intensive non-invasive genetic monitoring program to serve as the basis for an extensive genetic management integrating remnant, captive and reintroduced populations. The intensively monitored and managed Iberian lynx, together with the available genomic resources, provide an excellent opportunity to investigate the genomic basis of inbreeding depression and genetic rescue, and to further extend the contribution of genomics to species conservation through the management of genetic disorders.

Jenny Anne Glikman

Dr. Jenny Anne Glikman holds a PhD in Human Geography and is a Ramon y Cajal Fellow at the Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados (IESA-CSIC). Her line of research focuses on the social aspects of human relationships with nature and wildlife to address conflicts that threaten biodiversity conservation and human activities. The aim is to develop shared solutions and conservation actions to improve human-wildlife coexistence. Since 2017 she is a member of the steering committee of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN): the "Human Bear Conflict Expert Teams" and the "Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence Specialist Group".

Affiliation: Instituto de Estudios Sociales Avanzados (IESA-CSIC), Spain

Plenary talk: Human-wildlife interactions: conflict and coexistence

In general, the relationship between humans and wildlife is described in terms of conflict or coexistence. While there have been a remarkable number of studies that focus on human-wildlife conflict, only the last decade has witnessed an increase in the scientific literature at neutral or positive interactions between human and wildlife.

The inclusion of terms such as coexistence helps to recognize that human beings are an integral part of nature, and that nature, and that wildlife can thrive in a shared environment where conflicts are minimal and/or well managed. Indeed, it should not be forgotten that humans are part of the conflict, but also part of the solution.

In this talk I will present several case studies exploring the perspectives of different actors who share territory with predators such as jaguars, leopards and bears. Specifically, I will focus on what processes are involved in the interactions between humans and wildlife to move toward favorable conditions for both.

Maneesha Deckha

Maneesha Deckha is Professor and Lansdowne Chair in Law at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. Her research expertise includes critical animal law, vegan ecofeminist theory, and postcolonial theory. She has held the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Law and Society at New York University and currently serves as Director of the Animals & Society Research Initiative at the University of Victoria. She serves on advisory bodies relating to sociolegal studies, animal law, and feminist theory including at Social & Legal Studies and the Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law. Her manuscript entitled Animals as Legal Beings: Contesting Anthropocentric Legal Orders was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2021 and her open access documentary designed for high school and undergraduate screening, A Deeper Kindness: Youth Activism in Animal Law, launched in October 2022 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg6QcF9rWk0&t=46s). Her current monograph project, supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, examines the lack of government regulation in favour of farmed animals as a rule of law violation and thus a matter of constitutional import. Professor Deckha is a graduate of McGill University, the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Columbia Law School.

Affiliation: University of Victoria, BC, Canada

Plenary talk: Assisted reproduction to avoid species extinction: when is it ethical for individual animals?

This plenary talk will discuss leading animal ethics approaches to ending human exploitation and domination of animals to consider the ethical guidance each approach offers in determining if and how humans should facilitate animal reproduction for the purpose of conservation and extinction avoidance. Professor Deckha will argue that an ecofeminist/feminist animal care approach to the question is the most compelling as it centres the needs and agency of female animals who will be most impacted by assisted reproductive efforts humans undertake.


Satellite workshops on Friday, 8th September

Workshop venue: Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin
(distance from the conference venue: approx. one hour by public transport)

Bioinformatics workshop: Genome analysis methods useful for species conservation studies


Production of high-quality genome assemblies has become more affordable than ever, with telomere-to-telomere assemblies being an achievable goal nowadays. The widespread availability of this type of data presents novel opportunities to investigate genomic traits at a higher resolution and ask new questions. Still, standardised workflows facilitating this analysis are lacking.
This workshop will present genome analysis methods useful for species conservation studies, such as repeat and GC content, telomere structure, heterozygosity, population size history, and gene density, among other analyses. The workflow aims to help understand where we are and where we can go with our genomic analysis.

Workshop organisers:

Diego de Panis (Leibniz-IZW & Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research, Germany), Maximilian Driller (Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research, Germany), Camila Mazzoni (Leibniz-IZW & Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research, Germany), Larissa Souza Arantes (Leibniz-IZW & Berlin Center for Genomics in Biodiversity Research, Germany)


Friday, 8th September 2023, 13:00 - 18:00 (CEST)


Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin

Participation fee:

15 Euro

We are taking a little symbolic fee as a contribution for the organisation of refreshments and snacks during the course. Workshop tickets can be booked during registration for the conference.

Places for the workshop are limited to 22 participants.

Workshop on structural equation modeling (SEMs)


Ecological data are characterised by complex relations among many variables, often involving indirect effects whereby the effect of one variable on the variable of interest is mediated by another variable. Structural equation models (SEMs) allow depicting such relations and are thus useful for addressing a broad range of ecological questions. This workshop is an introduction to SEMs, focusing on concepts of SEM, as well as practical skills in fitting, evaluating and interpreting the models with lavaan R package. Previous experience working with R is a precondition for joining this workshop; experience in fitting linear or generalised linear models is beneficial but not mandatory.

Workshop organiser:

Viktoriia Radchuk (Leibniz-IZW, Germany), Aimara Planillo (Leibniz-IZW, Germany)


Friday, 8th September 2023, 13:00 - 17:00 (CEST)


Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin

Participation fee:

15 Euro

We are taking a little symbolic fee as a contribution for the organisation of refreshments and snacks during the course. Workshop tickets can be booked during registration for the conference.

Places for the workshop are limited to 18 participants.


Conference programme

Catering at the conference

The catering at the conference will be entirely vegetarian with vegan options. This includes the coffee and lunch breaks, the poster pasta evening as well as the conference banquet.

Conference banquet on Sunday, 10th September

The conference banquet will take place on 10th September, 18:30 - 23:30 at the restaurant "Eierschale Dahlem".

Enjoy a delicious vegetarian buffet, chat with colleagues in a relaxed atmosphere and dance to great live music of the PandaZ.

The conference banquet is not included in the registration fee. Tickets can be booked during registration for the conference. You are welcome to also book a ticket for an accompanying person.

Tickets for the conference banquet:

Regular: 52 Euro
Reduced: 37 Euro

The banquet ticket includes live music, a vegetarian buffet and a welcome drink. Additional drinks will be available on a self-pay basis.

Cancellation policy

If you have to cancel your registration, please send an email to symposium@izw-berlin.de. Please note that your cancellation is only valid after you received a confirmation of acceptance from us.

In case of cancellations, refund of registration fees will be as follows:

  • Cancellation up to 6 weeks before the start of the event (28th July 2023, 23:59 CEST): the registration fee will be refunded minus a processing fee of 20%
  • Cancellation up to 2 weeks before the start of the event (25th August 2023, 23:59 CEST): the registration fee will be refunded minus a processing fee of 50%
  • Cancellations less than 2 weeks before the start of the event (26th August 2023): no refund possible


Josepha Prügel
Conference organisation & Leibniz-IZW Academy
Tel: +49(0)30 5168-127

Layla Mpinou
Conference organisation & Leibniz-IZW Academy
Tel: +49(0)30 5168-127

Stefanie Lenz
Conference organisation & finances
Tel: +49(0)30 5168-459

E-Mail: symposium@izw-berlin.de