An Institute of the Leibniz-Gemeinschaft (WGL).
The IZW conducts integrated biological and veterinary research on wildlife. Our work is focused on the mechanisms and functions of evolutionary adaptations that ensure the survival and reproduction of individuals in free-ranging and captive populations of wildlife, and the limits that may affect the viability and persistence of such populations. For this purpose, we study the behavioural and evolutionary ecology, wildlife diseases, and reproduction of mostly larger mammals and birds.
EVitA- the Research Programme of IZW:
investigation of the vitality and adaptability of wildlife populations in species of outstanding ecological interest facing anthropogenic challenges
What is the purpose of the IZW?
To study the diversity of life histories, the mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations and their limits (including diseases) of free-ranging and captive wildlife, and its interrelationships with people and its environment.
We focus on the ecologically, economically and culturally important mammals and selected avian species. These are special because of their frequent role as keystone species in important, species-rich communities and ecosystems. Worldwide, because they are often at the centre of conflicts with human interests, and because their value as "flagship species" contributes disproportionately to the public acceptance of conservation. Larger mammals and birds have complex, often little understood evolutionary adaptations and frequently respond to disturbances and anthropogenic habitat changes in a sensitive manner. Because of their generally low densities, large space and habitat requirements, larger wildlife species are also good indicators of threats to global biodiversity and thus ultimately also of threats to the natural environment that the human population depends on for its own survival.
How does the IZW fulfil this purpose?
By undertaking strategic, long-term, interdisciplinary basic and applied research programs in cooperation with zoos, protected areas and other institutions, in order to contribute to the conservation and persistence of viable wildlife populations.
Activities of the IZW are characterised by
- planning key projects in an interdisciplinary manner and conducting them in cooperation with numerous national and international partners;
- exploiting the complementary approaches of biology and veterinary science to clarify the functions and effects of evolutionary adaptations and their impact on wildlife populations;
- developing scientifically based concepts and methods for the active influence (management) of population developments (population viability and conservation, population control);
- developing new and improving already existing minimally invasive or non-invasive methods;
- closely coordinating lab-based analyses and field work, including experimental approaches, and the institute's own field station
- maintaining and expanding unique collections, particularly in wildlife pathology and anatomy (pathological-anatomical reference collection PARS),
- organising biennial international symposia on diseases of zoo and wild animals and physiology, behaviour and conservation of wildlife;
- organising scientific seminars and international workshops,
- teaching undergraduates (lectures, seminars, and courses) at the Faculty for Veterinary Medicine of the Free University Berlin, the Institute of Biology of the Humboldt University Berlin, and other national and foreign universities;
- supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students for their diplomas and doctoral dissertations at several national and international universities.
To perform these activities, the IZW has five research groups covering evolutionary ecology, wildlife diseases and reproduction. They are supported by a central administration unit, technical services, a field research station and a scientific library. Total staff currently consists of approximately 90 people.