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The Leibniz-IZW is an internationally renowned German research institute. It is part of the Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. and a member of the Leibniz Association. Our goal is to understand the adaptability of wildlife in the context of global change and to contribute to the enhancement of the survival of viable wildlife populations. For this purpose, we investigate the diversity of life histories, the mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations and their limits, including diseases, as well as the interrelations of wildlife with their environment and people. We use expertise from biology and veterinary medicine in an interdisciplinary approach to conduct fundamental and applied research – from the molecular to the landscape level – in close dialogue with the public and stakeholders. Additionally, we are committed to unique and high-quality services for the scientific community.

News

 

Newborn southern white rhino, 1.5 hours after birth in Salzburg Zoo. Photo: Robert Hermes
Newborn southern white rhino, 1.5 hours after birth in Salzburg Zoo. Photo: Robert Hermes

First in-depth insights into parturition in rhinos will foster better birth management and obstetrics in zoological gardens

When exactly is a rhino offspring born? How long does the birth actually take? Does parturition proceed normally? Answers to these and similar questions are difficult for experts in zoological gardens, since baseline knowledge of the reproduction cycle of all rhinoceros species, especially its final stage, the parturition, is scarce. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) together with zoo veterinarians closely monitored 19 pregnant white rhinos in six European zoos and recorded timelines for pre-birth development, milk production, hormone levels, gestation length and documented the onset of parturition, different stages of labour and foetal position at birth. These data significantly improves the knowledge base for birth management and obstetrics in rhinos and will help to reduce the number of stillbirths or perinatal problems in zoological gardens. The results are published in the scientific journal “Theriogenology”.

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Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), photo: René Janssen
Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathusii), photo: René Janssen

When calling loudly, echolocation is costly for small bats

Calling in the ultrasonic range enables small bats to orient themselves in the dark and track down tiny insects. Louder calls travel farther, improving a bat’s ability to detect their prey. It was long assumed that echolocation does not contribute much to energy expenditure in flight because individuals simply couple their calls with the beat of their wings. Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin have now shown in a paper in the scientific journal “Nature Ecology & Evolution” that high intensity echolocation calls are by no means free and substantially contribute to energy expenditure. Bats must therefore find a balance between energy expenditure and effective echolocation and use the latter economically.

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Schlagopfer Rauhautfledermaus Foto: CC Voigt, Leibniz-IZW
Schlagopfer Rauhautfledermaus Foto: CC Voigt, Leibniz-IZW

Trust me if you can: why stakeholders in the “wind energy vs biological conservation” conflict have low mutual trust and how to increase it

Wind energy is considered to be one of the most promising forms of renewable energy. Yet, each year, wind turbines  are responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of airborne animals such as bats which die from collisions with turbine blades. To find a constructive way out of this “green-green” dilemma, companies building and running wind turbines might have to work together with environmental experts and conservationists. Yet a lack of trust between them is likely to hinder effective and creative collaboration. In an article published in Energy Reports, scientists of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) show that shared values alone are not sufficient to build mutual trust between these groups, as beliefs and emotions hold a stronger sway for the collaboration. The authors argue that an improved awareness of each others’ beliefs and emotions in relation to the construction and operation of wind turbines can benefit their work in this field and help find a way out of the dilemma.

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Owston´s civet, Photo: Leibniz-IZW
Owston´s civet, Photo: Leibniz-IZW

Surprising mammal diversity discovered in Bidoup Nui Ba NP

New surveys have revealed surprising mammal biodiversity in Bidoup Nui Ba National Park (Bidoup Nui Ba NP), a large protected area located in the southern part of the Annamites range. The presence of numerous rare and endangered mammals in Bidoup Nui Ba NP provides a ray of hope for the long-term conservation of Vietnam’s unique biodiversity.

 

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3D reconstruction of a thalattosuchian skull. image: G. Fritsch
3D reconstruction of a thalattosuchian skull. image: G. Fritsch

High-tech CT reveals ancient evolutionary adaptation of extinct crocodylomorphs transitioning from land to water

The tree of life is rich in examples of species that changed from living in water to a land-based existence. Occasionally, some species took the opposite direction. New insights into the anatomy of the inner ear of prehistoric reptiles, the thalattosuchians, revealed details about one of these evolutionary turning points. During the Mesozoic era, these now extinct crocodile relatives ventured into the ocean after a long semiaquatic phase. During this process, the skeleton of the thalattosuchians gradually adapted to the new pelagic habitat. In particular, the changes to the inner ear vestibular system of these reptiles enhanced their ability to swim. Compared to whales, which adapted quickly to life in water without a prolonged semiaquatic stage, this is a strikingly different evolutionary path for the same transition. These new findings of an international research team were made possible by the use of a Canon high-tech computed tomography (CT) scanner from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW). The results have been published in the „Proceedings of the National Acadamy of Sciences of the USA“.

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Carcass of Nathusius' pipistrelle bat in front of a wind turbine. Photo: Christian Voigt
Carcass of Nathusius' pipistrelle bat in front of a wind turbine. Photo: Christian Voigt

Wind farms in the Black Sea coast region could have a negative impact on bat populations in large parts of Eastern Europe

The Via Pontica, an important migration route for birds in Eastern Europe, runs along the Black Sea coast of Romania and Bulgaria. Bats also use this route. In this region, numerous wind farms have been installed in recent years because of good wind conditions, but there has been little implementation of the legally required measures for the protection of bats. A Romanian research team cooperated with the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) in Berlin to demonstrate that this leads to high death rates of migrating bats and potentially large declines even in populations living far away in other countries. The scientists therefore recommend the widespread introduction of turn-off times during the migration months, which - as the team was able to show in a local wind farm - would massively decrease bat mortality yet produce only a marginal loss in the energy production of the turbines.

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Ovum pickup with the southern white rhino cow Makena at Serengeti Park Hodenhagen. Photo: Serengeti Park Hodenhagen
Ovum pickup with the southern white rhino cow Makena at Serengeti Park Hodenhagen. Photo: Serengeti Park Hodenhagen

BioRescue Consortium performs most successful oocyte collection and embryo creation ever in southern white rhinos in the German Serengeti Park Hodenhagen

In order to prevent the extinction of species such as the northern white rhino, the BioRescue consortium is developing new methods and technologies for conservation. An important part of this work is basic research in cooperation with zoological institutions. This partnership has enabled the BioRescue team to continue working even during the Corona pandemic. On May 26, 2020, the team extracted oocytes from the southern white rhino female "Makena" in Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany, and then fertilized them in the Avantea laboratory in Italy to create four viable embryos. This was the team's most successful procedure of its kind and nourishes the hope that advanced assisted reproduction technologies (aART) are well established to ensure the survival of the northern white rhino in the near future.

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Photo: Anne Ipsen

Ultrasound examinations provide new insights into the reproduction of the olm

Summary of an article in the "Volksstimme" (in German).

Only recently, Prof Thomas Hildebrandt (Head of the Department of Reproduction Management at the Leibniz-IZW) – together with Australian colleagues – was able to make a genuine new discovery on reproduction in the animal kingdom: They used ultrasound to show that swamp wallabies develop a new embryo before the birth of the previous offspring and thus show parallel pregnancies at different stages of development. Now, together with his colleague Dr Susanne Holtze, Hildebrandt showed previously unknown reproductive mechanisms also in olms: The fertilisation of the eggs of the rare amphibious cave dwellers takes place inside the female olm and the first developmental steps of the embryo occur already in the fallopian tube.

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IZW in the media

BBC video on the Northern White Rhino Rescue reaches more than 1,3 million views on youtube and more than 9,5 million views on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2685812534841992).

 

06.07.2020 | Mongabay
For two rhino species on brink of extinction, it’s collaboration vs. stonewalling

03.07.2020 | Spiegel Online
Clans im Matriarchat - Das wundersame Sozialverhalten der Tüpfelhyänen

30.06.2020 | Spiegel Online
Nashorn-Rettungsversuch: Sie sind die letzten ihrer Art

27.06.2020 | stern
Was tun, wenn es nur noch Weibchen gibt?

25.06.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Wegen Paarung mit Hund abgeschossene Wölfin nicht trächtig

25.06.2020 | Deutschlandfunk Kultur
Der Fuchs: Was den scheuen Räuber so faszinierend macht

22.06.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Naturschutz: Wird bleihaltige Jagdmunition endlich verboten?

22.06.2020 | Berliner Zeitung
Forscher warnen vor Hexenjagd auf Fledermäuse wegen Corona

18.06.2020 | BILD
Rettung für die Nashörner, Serengeti Park bei Projekt dabei

17.06.2020 | ScienceDaily
Oocyte collection and embryo creation in southern white rhinos

17.06.2020 | Phys.Org
Researchers perform southern white rhino oocyte collection and embryo creation

16.06.2020 | RTL
Vom Aussterben bedroht: Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen hilft bei Rettung der Breitmaulnashörner

17.06.2020 | Stuttgarter Zeitung
Fledermäuse in den Fängen von Windrädern

16.06.2020 | la Repubblica
Rinoceronte bianco del nord, nuove speranze di salvarlo dall'estinzione

13.06.2020 | Radio1
Berliner Füchse verlassen die Stadt nicht

06.06.2020 | Radio1
Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften - Die Koexistenz von Mensch und Tier

06.06.2020 | Volksstimme
Grottenolme - Weltsensation aus Rübeland

05.06.2020 | Bayrischer Rundfunk
Rangordnung im Tierreich - Auf deinen Platz!

05.06.2020 | Berliner Zeitung
Berliner Füchse haben keine Lust auf Brandenburg

29.05.2020 | The Hindu
In the wake of unverified rumours linking bats to the novel coronavirus, bats have suddenly emerged as villains

25.05.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Fledermaus-Angst: »Das ist eine regelrechte Hexenjagd«

23.05.2020 | Focus
Nashorn aus der Dose

15.05.2020 | Spektrum der Wissenschaft
Der Wolf hätte fast überall Platz

25.04.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Tiere: Forschung zur Rettung von Nashorn-Unterart "auf Eis"

20.04.2020 | New York Times
When Crocodiles Once Dived Like Dolphins and Whales

20.04.2020 | The Guardian
Ancient ocean-going crocodiles mimicked whales and dolphins

14.04.2020 | BBC
Northern white rhinos: The audacious plan that could save a species

14.04.2020 | La Repubblica
Kenya, un laboratorio italiano salverà il rinoceronte bianco

13.03.2020 | La Stampa
Le Wallaby della palude possono essere incinte tutta la vita

11.03.2020 | Fox News
This adorable animal spends its entire adult life pregnant

03.03.2020 | Süddeutsche Zeitung
Biologie: Wallaby-Kängurus können doppelt trächtig werden

02.03.2020 | The New York Times
This Mom Is Still Pregnant. But She’s Already Having Another Baby

02.03.2020 | Smithsonian Magazine
Swamp Wallabies Can Get Pregnant While Pregnant

02.03.2020 | National Geographic
This marsupial is the only animal that's always pregnant

21.02.2020 | ZDF
planet e.: Artenschutz extrem - Erhalt um jeden Preis?