Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

Berlin, Germany

Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research

Berlin, Germany

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News Article | April 25, 2017
Site: www.techtimes.com

The last surviving male of the northern white rhino species is named Sudan and has joined Tinder on April 25 in hopes of becoming "the most eligible bachelor in the world." This is the title of the public awareness campaign aiming to raise the $9 million necessary for saving northern white rhinos from extinction. Like any other Tinder user, Sudan is looking for love and has now put his trust in global exposure to make his cause heard and hopefully help his species win the race against time. Perhaps the most endearing profile ever made on a dating app, Sudan's Tinder account stemmed from eager conservation efforts trying to prevent northern white rhinos from completely dying out. According to a Fauna and Flora International (FFI) news release, the campaign to save northern white rhinos was launched by Tinder in partnership with Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which houses the male rhinoceros. "The plight that currently faces the northern white rhinos is a signal to the impact that humankind is having on many thousands of other species across the planet," said Richard Vigne, CEO of Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The ultimate goal of this endeavor is "to reintroduce a viable population of northern white rhino back into the wild, which is where their true value will be realized," noted Vigne. To accomplish this, Ol Pejeta Conservancy is hoping to raise enough money to fund Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) currently researched by a consortium of institutions in the United States, Germany, and Japan. "Once perfected, this technology, in particular in vitro fertilization (IVF), will aid to achieve successful pregnancies to gradually build up a viable herd of northern white rhinos," shows the FFI news release. The research aims to establish a herd of 10 specimens through a five-year process of IVF and represents conservationists' last resort to save the species, after all previous attempts to breed northern white rhinos failed. If this feat ends in success, it will constitute a premiere in the artificial reproduction of rhinos. Upon hitting the "Like" button on Sudan's Tinder profile, people will be directed to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy website, where they can make donations to support the northern white rhino cause. Yesterday afternoon, the web page was temporarily down due to the large number of people trying to access it. "We partnered with Ol Pejeta conservancy to give the most eligible bachelor in the world a chance to meet his match," said Matt David, head of Tinder's communications and marketing department, who added that the company is confident that Sudan's profile will be visible on the app in 190 countries and more than 40 languages. In his Tinder profile, Sudan is described as "one of a kind" — and that's no exaggeration. He is in fact the last male white rhino on the entire planet. "I perform well under pressure. I like to eat grass and chill in the mud," reads Sudan's Tinder profile, mentioning the eligible bachelor is 6 feet tall and weighs 5,000 pounds. Sudan spends his days at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, protected by armed guards, and enjoying the company of two females of his species, Najin and Fatu. A series of challenges that include old age have kept these northern white rhinos from breeding naturally. Nevertheless, conservationists are weighing the option of crossing the species with Southern white rhinos. Although a distinct subspecies, they could provide around 17,000 potential female suitors for Sudan. The death of Suni, the other fertile male of the species in 2014 left Sudan, the only remaining male that can guarantee the proliferation of northern white rhinos. However, time is of the essence and all efforts must be made to ensure the species' survival while the rhino, aged 43, is still alive to fulfill his task. "To win this run against time it is very crucial to find major funds as quickly as possible," said Steven Seet, spokesperson for the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, which is part of the consortium. In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos living in the wild, according to World Wide Fund for Nature. By 1984, their numbers were decimated to just 15 due to poaching, since the rhinos' ivory horns were sold for big money in Asia. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


Balkenhol N.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Landguth E.L.,University of Montana
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

With the emergence of landscape genetics, the basic assumptions and predictions of classical population genetic theories are being re-evaluated to account for more complex spatial and temporal dynamics. Within the last decade, there has been an exponential increase in such landscape genetic studies (Holderegger & Wagner 2006; Storfer 2010), and both methodology and underlying concepts of the field are under rapid and constant development. A number of major innovations and a high level of originality are required to fully merge existing population genetic theory with landscape ecology and to develop novel statistical approaches for measuring and predicting genetic patterns. The importance of simulation studies for this specific research has been emphasized in a number of recent articles (e.g., Balkenhol 2009a; Epperson 2010). Indeed, many of the major questions in landscape genetics require the development and application of sophisticated simulation tools to explore gene flow, genetic drift, mutation and natural selection in landscapes with a wide range of spatial and temporal complexities. In this issue, Jaquiéry (2011) provide an excellent example of such a simulation study for landscape genetics. Using a metapopulation simulation design and a novel 'scale of phenomena' approach, Jaquiéry (2011) demonstrate the utility and limitations of genetic distances for inferring landscape effects on effective dispersal. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Reissmann M.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Ludwig A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology | Year: 2013

The characterisation of the pleiotropic effects of coat colour-associated mutations in mammals illustrates that sensory organs and nerves are particularly affected by disorders because of the shared origin of melanocytes and neurocytes in the neural crest; e.g. the eye-colour is a valuable indicator of disorders in pigment production and eye dysfunctions. Disorders related to coat colour-associated alleles also occur in the skin (melanoma), reproductive tract and immune system. Additionally, the coat colour phenotype of an individual influences its general behaviour and fitness. Mutations in the same genes often produce similar coat colours and pleiotropic effects in different species (e.g., KIT [reproductive disorders, lethality], EDNRB [megacolon] and LYST [CHS]). Whereas similar disorders and similar-looking coat colour phenotypes sometimes have a different genetic background (e.g., deafness [. EDN3/EDNRB, MITF, PAX and SNAI2] and visual diseases [. OCA2, RAB38, SLC24A5, SLC45A2, TRPM1 and TYR]). The human predilection for fancy phenotypes that ignore disorders and genetic defects is a major driving force for the increase of pleiotropic effects in domestic species and laboratory subjects since domestication has commenced approximately 18,000 years ago. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.


Wilting A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2016

The flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps is classified as one of the most threatened cat species in the world. Its range is restricted to southern Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and the two largest Sunda Islands, Borneo and Sumatra. Its association with wetlands and lowland areas puts great pressure on this species, because these habitats are most threatened by degradation and agricultural conversions. Borneo has been identified as the stronghold for flat-headed cat. Of 140 flat-headed cat occurrence records for Borneo, 50 (Balanced Model) or 76 (Spatial Filtering Model) were used to estimate potential habitat suitability. Although we predicted suitable habitat for the flat-headed cat scattered across the lowlands of Borneo, some large lowland areas are predicted to be unsuitable, a likely consequence of forest conversion to oil palm plantations. Of particular predicted importance are forests in Brunei Darussalam, the Sabangau National Park and surrounding forest complex in Central Kalimantan and forests in North Kalimantan, as well as the central forest block in Sabah. The main threat to the flat-headed cat is on-going transformation of forested areas to monoculture plantations, as the species appears unable to use these human-dominated habitats. Of particular importance for long-term survival of flat-headed cat is conservation of land near rivers and peat swamp forests. © 2016 National University of Singapore.


Wilting A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2016

The Bornean ferret badger Melogale everetti is one of the least known Bornean carnivores, and is currently classified as Data Deficient on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Endemic to Borneo, it is associated with upland and highland forests in and around Kinabalu Park and Crocker Range Park. Of 52 Bornean ferret badger occurrence records, 14 were used to estimate potential habitat suitability. This species is likely to be confined to a very small range in western Sabah, potentially the smallest distribution range of any carnivore species in South-east Asia. All occurrence records were above 500 m elevation, which suggests that this species is restricted to upland and highland forests. Areas of particular importance predicted for survival of this species are Kinabalu Park, Crocker Range Park, and unprotected areas and commercial forest reserves east of Crocker Range Park. Because of the low number of recent records, the main threats to the Bornean ferret badger are unknown, but the transformation of forested areas to monoculture plantations and perhaps incidental hunting are likely to have negative effects on this species. As an upland and high-elevation specialist, climate change might also become an important future threat. Of particular importance for long-term survival of the Bornean ferret badger is an improved understanding of its current status, ecology and the threats it actually faces (if any). © 2016 National University of Singapore.


Kramer-Schadt S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Wilting A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2016

South-east Asian mammals face a particularly severe threat of extinction. Borneo, the third largest island in the world, is located in the centre of South-east Asia. It harbours more endemic carnivores than does any other island except Madagascar. Almost half the Bornean carnivore species have been classified by The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as threatened. Because little is known about most Bornean carnivores, predicting their spatial distribution is important for management strategies to improve the conservation of these species. As a part of the 1st Borneo Carnivore Symposium (BCS) we started to assemble a knowledge base of Bornean carnivores. We established the Borneo Carnivore Database which contains the previously largely fragmented occurrence records of carnivores on the island and then used these records to predict the distribution of 20 Bornean carnivores (all native species except sun bear Helarctos malayanus and the four otter species, Eurasian otter Lutra lutra, Asian smallclawed otter Aonyx cinereus, hairy-nosed otter Lutra sumatrana and smooth-coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata). We describe general considerations – the underlying assumptions, advantages, and most importantly the limitations and constraints – of species distribution modelling. We then summarise the methodological framework of our modelling approach and results of the sensitivity analyses. We emphasise that despite the extensive efforts to compile existing information, so few or spatially biased occurrence records exist for some species that the model outcomes presented in this journal issue must be interpreted cautiously. We recommend using new data as they become available to test our projections and improve our understanding of carnivore distributions on Borneo. © 2016 National University of Singapore.


Roellig K.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Nature communications | Year: 2010

The concept of superfetation, a second conception during pregnancy, has been controversial for a long time. In this paper we use an experimental approach to demonstrate that female European brown hares (Lepus europaeus) frequently develop a second pregnancy while already pregnant and thereby increase their reproductive success. After a new, successful copulation, we confirmed additional ovulations before parturition in living, late-pregnant females by detecting a second set of fresh corpora lutea using high-resolution ultrasonography. The presence of early embryonic stages in the oviduct, demonstrated by oviduct flushing, next to fully developed fetuses in the uterus is best explained by passage of semen through the late-pregnant uterus; this was confirmed by paternity analysis using microsatellite profiling. Subsequent implantation occurred after parturition. This superfetation, categorized as superconception, significantly increased litter size and permitted females to produce up to 35.4% more offspring per breeding season. It is therefore most likely an evolutionary adaptation.


Honer O.P.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Nature communications | Year: 2010

Life history theory predicts that mothers should provide their offspring with a privileged upbringing if this enhances their offspring's and their own fitness. In many mammals, high-ranking mothers provide their offspring with a privileged upbringing. Whether dispersing sons gain fitness benefits during adulthood from such privileges (a 'silver spoon' effect) has rarely been examined. In this paper, we show that in the complex, female-dominated society of spotted hyaenas, high-born sons grew at higher rates, were more likely to disperse to clans offering the best fitness prospects, started reproducing earlier and had a higher reproductive value than did lower-born sons. This illustrates the evolutionary importance of maternal effects even in societies in which male size or fighting ability does not influence fitness. By demonstrating for the first time in a non-human mammal that maternal status influences immigration patterns, the study also advances our understanding of two key ecological and evolutionary processes, dispersal and habitat selection.


Voigt C.C.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Biotropica | Year: 2010

Stable carbon isotope ratios (δ13C) of plants increase linearly from ground to canopy. Accordingly, I used δ13C for estimating strata use of fig-eating bats. Data suggest that, overall, bats commuted at lower but fed at higher forest strata, and that small bats foraged at lower forest strata than large bats. © 2010 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2010 by The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation.


Muhldorfer K.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Zoonoses and Public Health | Year: 2013

The occurrence of emerging infectious diseases and their relevance to human health has increased the interest in bats as potential reservoir hosts and vectors of zoonotic pathogens. But while previous and ongoing research activities predominantly focused on viral agents, the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in bats and their impact on bat mortality have largely neglected. Enteric pathogens found in bats are often considered to originate from the bats' diet and foraging habitats, despite the fact that little is known about the actual ecological context or even transmission cycles involving bats, humans and other animals like pets and livestock. For some bacterial pathogens common in human and animal diseases (e.g. Pasteurella, Salmonella, Escherichia and Yersinia spp.), the pathogenic potential has been confirmed for bats. Other bacterial pathogens (e.g. Bartonella, Borrelia and Leptospira spp.) provide evidence for novel species that seem to be specific for bat hosts but might also be of disease importance in humans and other animals. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current knowledge of bacterial pathogens identified in bats and to consider factors that might influence the exposure and susceptibility of bats to bacterial infection but could also affect bacterial transmission rates between bats, humans and other animals. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

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