University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna

www.vetmeduni.ac.at
Vienna, Austria

The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna was founded in 1767 as the world's third school for veterinary medicine by Milan's Ludovico Scotti, originally named k. k. Pferde-Curen- und Operationsschule . Today, it has c. 2,800 students and c. 600 employees. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 12, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

Shearing the animals on the floor or on a special tilt table also resulted in changed clinical parameters such as heart rate. These values remained at normal levels only when the animals were sheared in a standing position. But shearing animals in the standing position is only possible if the alpacas do not resist being restrained with a risk of injury to themselves or to their handlers. These animals should be restrained on a mattress on the ground or on a tilt table. The study was published in Veterinary Record with organisational and financial support from the Alpaca Association e.V. of Germany and the Austrian Buiatric Association. Alpacas are members of the camel family and, like llamas, guanacos and vicuñas, belong to the New World camelids. Domesticated they are of great importance in South America, especially in Peru, where they have been kept and bred for their wool for thousands of years. In Europe, on the other hand, alpaca breeding is relatively uncommon. But the number of animals and breeders has been growing for years. Just like sheep, alpacas must be shorn regularly to harvest their wool. The procedure is an unusual one for the animals and thus a source of stress. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna has now investigated for the first time which shearing position produces the least amount of stress for the animals and therefore represents the least stressful method from the point of view of the animal's wellbeing. Unlike sheep, which are usually turned onto their backs, alpaca breeders use several different methods of restraint. The animals are either held by assistants in a standing position, restrained on a mattress on the ground or placed on special shearing tables. Previously, there had been no studies as to which method produced the least stress among the animals. "The stress of the animals can be determined based on clinical parameters, by observing the animals' behaviour or through the laboratory analysis of saliva and faeces," explains senior author Susanne Waiblinger of the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare. Saliva and faeces contain cortisol, which is an important stress marker. Saliva cortisol is considered to reflect a short-term stress response, whereas faecal cortisol shows longer-lasting stress responses. Besides measuring stress-induced hormonal levels, the researchers also looked at clinical parameters, such as heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature, as well as the animals' behaviour. Clinical parameters nearly unchanged when shearing in standing position To describe the impact of shearing on the alpacas, the team divided its study into two parts. Part one studied the level of stress caused by each of the restraining methods, as the shearing itself represents a separate stress factor. In part two, the animals were divided into groups and shorn using one of the methods. Animals that were restrained without shearing exhibited no significant changes in terms of the clinical parameters. Both the respiratory rate and heart rate remained at normal levels. "The body temperature was unchanged during this part of the study. But if the animals were restrained and also shorn, the clinical values changed significantly in the animals that were restrained on the floor or on the table. For all restraining methods, however, body temperature remained unchanged. This makes alpacas different from sheep or from the alpaca's relative, the vicuña," says first author Thomas Wittek of the University Clinic for Ruminants. Stress hormone shows that alpacas are only stressed by the restraint The analysis of the cortisol concentrations in saliva and faeces, on the other hand, showed that the animals were also stressed in the first part of the study despite the almost unchanged clinical parameters. Saliva cortisol levels were clearly higher after just 20 minutes and increased even further within 40 minutes. The cortisol concentrations then remained unchanged, although the higher levels could be demonstrated in faeces even 33 hours later. During restraint and shearing, the cortisol values also increased regardless of the shearing position. When animals were restrained on the ground, however, this led to a more significant increase of hormone levels over time compared to the other two methods. Faecal cortisol levels remained at the same high levels in all three groups. Animal behaviour just as important for choice of restraining method "At first glance, it appears difficult to compare or associate the two experiments," says Wittek. "But we can assume that just the sound of the shearing machine and the duration of the restraint cause stress for the animals. This means that you can practically add the values." Merely positioning the animals is a source of stress, which then increases further through the act of shearing. The standing position was tolerated the best by the alpacas in terms of the clinical parameters. Restraining the animals in the standing position, however, only makes sense and is only possible if the alpacas remain calm. If they resist from the beginning, the risk of injury to themselves or to one of the handlers is too great, says first author Wittek. These animals should therefore be restrained on a table. The handlers usually know the behaviour of their animals and can decide in advance which method to use. The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) is one of the leading veterinary, academic and research facilities in Europe. Its main focus is on the research fields of animal health, food safety, animal husbandry and animal welfare as well as biomedical fundamentals. The Vetmeduni Vienna has 1,300 employees and is currently training 2,300 students. The campus in Floridsdorf, Vienna has five university hospitals and numerous research institutions at its disposal. Two research institutes at Wilhelminenberg, Vienna and a Teaching and Research in Lower Austria also belong to the Vetmeduni Vienna. http://www. Wittek, T., Salaberger, T., Palme, R., Becker, S., Hajek, F., Lambacher, B., Waiblinger, S. (2017) Clinical parameters and adrenocortical activity to assess stress responses of alpacas using different methods of restraint either alone or with shearing Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. vet. Thomas Wittek Head of the Clinical Unit of Ruminant Medicine University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) T +43 1 25077- 5200 thomas.wittek@vetmeduni.ac.at Ao.Univ.Prof., Dr.med.vet. Susanne Waiblinger Institute of Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) T: +43 1 25077 4906 susanne.waiblinger@vetmeduni.ac.at


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Only a few animal species such as New Caledonian crows or some primates have so far been found to habitually use tools. Even fewer can manufacture their own tools. Nevertheless, the Goffin's cockatoo, an Indonesian parrot, exhibit both abilities while seemingly lacking a genetic adaptation for tool use. Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and the University of Vienna have now shown yet another tool-related ability in these clever parrots. After a brief learning phase, they keep their tools safe nearby without dropping them while feeding until the last of five difficult-to-obtain food rewards has been retrieved. In order to succeed, they are able to adapt their behavioural routines in a way that allows for feeding and holding the tool both at the same time. This not only highlights the learning abilities of these animals but also suggests the ability to plan their body movements. The study was published in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour. Any craftsman knows that it is much easier to always keep a pair of pliers or a hammer safe at hand inside a belt instead of having to retrieve it every time it is needed. Having to look for tools, to buy or to manufacture them usually involves a much larger effort than keeping them safe to reuse them at any time. Cockatoos can learn to use and make tools Only a few animals, including some primates and New Caledonian crows, are able to use tools. Amongst other things, they employ tools to get access to out-of-reach resources. Even fewer animal species are known to be able to manufacture their own tools. While the ability to use and/or make tools is often an inborn trait, the Goffin's cockatoo can invent them largely through flexibility. For these animals, it can be just as efficient to keep a tool safe instead of looking for or making a new one every single time. Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and the University of Vienna were able to show that these Indonesian parrots can solve this mental and motoric challenge. “Tool use is not a species-wide trait in the Goffin's cockatoos and it is not common in the wild. Nonetheless, confronted with the right setup, many of them start using sticks or other tools after a short acquisition phase in order to obtain an out-of-reach food reward,” explains Alice Auersperg from the Messerli Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna. “We are now testing to what extent these skilled problem-solvers can learn that a tool can be recycled to minimize work effort.” Feeding without dropping the tool? No problem for a cockatoo During testing, the cockatoos were allowed to use a single stick as a tool to retrieve a nut from several low-level or highly elevated food boxes. As an additional difficulty, the nuts were encased inside small pill capsules in half of the cases. The birds not only had to show that they were able to use their tool, they also had to consider the possibility of recycling their tool to retrieve the next reward and how to keep the tool safe on the perch while handling the nut. The results showed that birds more often kept their tools safe without dropping them once the first food appeared when the reward was placed in the elevated feeding position. Nevertheless, even on a low platform the cockatoos kept their sticks safe after a few tool losses. Interestingly, the birds used different tool-safekeeping modes on the two platforms. When safekeeping tools while feeding on the low platform, they simply held the tool in one of their claws while picking up the food reward with their beak. On the high platform, they arguably used a safer mode of keeping their tool from dropping: they partially inserted their tools into a previous foraging hole while additionally holding it with one foot. “The animals could flexibly adjust their behaviour depending on the situation: putting more effort into avoiding tool losses on the high platform had a higher payoff as retrieving lost tools from the floor caused a higher work effort,” says Auersperg. Individual learning and adjusting behavioural routines The patterns that the animals show to avoid tool losses are similar to those of another bird in which tool use is an inborn trait, the New Caledonian crow. In the cockatoos, however, behavioural predispositions do not seem to play a major role and the acquisition of the behaviour seems be through individual innovations. This is also shown by the fact that different individual birds used different techniques to keep their tools safe. While some bids predominately held it in their claws, others would press it against the apparatus and yet another would temporarily deposit its tool while foraging. To employ the box, the birds had to additionally adjust their regular tool use behaviour. Their original behavioural routines were impeded by the additional object and the space in front of the foraging box was restricted by elevation. The birds learned how to approach the next food box while carrying the tool and how to pick up the food without losing the tool. Once the routine was perfected, it was repeated up from the first to the last food box. “The cockatoos proved in previous studies that they are capable of adjusting their behaviour to complex setups. In this study, we could show that even the prospect of feeding did not keep them from safeguarding their tools and from keeping them at hand for further foraging events.”


News Article | May 16, 2017
Site: phys.org

After a brief learning phase, they keep their tools safe nearby without dropping them while feeding until the last of five difficult-to-obtain food rewards has been retrieved. In order to succeed, they are able to adapt their behavioural routines in a way that allows for feeding and holding the tool both at the same time. This not only highlights the learning abilities of these animals but also suggests the ability to plan their body movements. The study was published in the scientific journal Animal Behaviour.Any craftsman knows that it is much easier to always keep a pair of pliers or a hammer safe at hand inside a belt instead of having to retrieve it every time it is needed. Having to look for tools, to buy or to manufacture them usually involves a much larger effort than keeping them safe to reuse them at any time. Cockatoos can learn to use and make tools Only a few animals, including some primates and New Caledonian crows, are able to use tools. Amongst other things, they employ tools to get access to out-of-reach resources. Even fewer animal species are known to be able to manufacture their own tools. While the ability to use and/or make tools is often an inborn trait, the Goffin's cockatoo can invent them largely through flexibility. For these animals, it can be just as efficient to keep a tool safe instead of looking for or making a new one every single time. Researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and the University of Vienna were able to show that these Indonesian parrots can solve this mental and motoric challenge. "Tool use is not a species-wide trait in the Goffin's cockatoos and it is not common in the wild. Nonetheless, confronted with the right setup, many of them start using sticks or other tools after a short acquisition phase in order to obtain an out-of-reach food reward," explains Alice Auersperg from the Messerli Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna. "We are now testing to what extent these skilled problem-solvers can learn that a tool can be recycled to minimize work effort." Feeding without dropping the tool? No problem for a cockatoo During testing, the cockatoos were allowed to use a single stick as a tool to retrieve a nut from several low-level or highly elevated food boxes. As an additional difficulty, the nuts were encased inside small pill capsules in half of the cases. The birds not only had to show that they were able to use their tool, they also had to consider the possibility of recycling their tool to retrieve the next reward and how to keep the tool safe on the perch while handling the nut. The results showed that birds more often kept their tools safe without dropping them once the first food appeared when the reward was placed in the elevated feeding position. Nevertheless, even on a low platform the cockatoos kept their sticks safe after a few tool losses. Interestingly, the birds used different tool-safekeeping modes on the two platforms. When safekeeping tools while feeding on the low platform, they simply held the tool in one of their claws while picking up the food reward with their beak. On the high platform, they arguably used a safer mode of keeping their tool from dropping: they partially inserted their tools into a previous foraging hole while additionally holding it with one foot. "The animals could flexibly adjust their behaviour depending on the situation: putting more effort into avoiding tool losses on the high platform had a higher payoff as retrieving lost tools from the floor caused a higher work effort," says Auersperg. The patterns that the animals show to avoid tool losses are similar to those of another bird in which tool use is an inborn trait, the New Caledonian crow. In the cockatoos, however, behavioural predispositions do not seem to play a major role and the acquisition of the behaviour seems be through individual innovations. This is also shown by the fact that different individual birds used different techniques to keep their tools safe. While some bids predominately held it in their claws, others would press it against the apparatus and yet another would temporarily deposit its tool while foraging. To employ the box, the birds had to additionally adjust their regular tool use behaviour. Their original behavioural routines were impeded by the additional object and the space in front of the foraging box was restricted by elevation. The birds learned how to approach the next food box while carrying the tool and how to pick up the food without losing the tool. Once the routine was perfected, it was repeated up from the first to the last food box. "The cockatoos proved in previous studies that they are capable of adjusting their behaviour to complex setups. In this study, we could show that even the prospect of feeding did not keep them from safeguarding their tools and from keeping them at hand for further foraging events." Explore further: Cockatoos make economic decisions about tool use depending on the current 'market' situation More information: A.M.I. Auersperg et al. Safekeeping of tools in Goffin's cockatoos,Cacatua goffiniana, Animal Behaviour (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.04.010


News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

The seeds of beech trees are an important source of energy for rodents like the edible dormouse (Glis glis). In fact, beechnuts are a preferred food for the animals. The long-lived rodents need the energy-rich beech seeds for reproduction and the growth of their offspring. But beechnuts aren't available for the dormice every year. Beech trees produce seeds on a large scale only in so-called mast years. In other years, they yield little or no seeds. This requires the edible dormice to adapt to the lifecycle of the beech. New research conducted by wildlife biologists from Vetmeduni Vienna has now shown for the first time that the animals' choice of territory is of benefit to them. The rodents prefer areas with alternative food sources and only few beech trees. They actually avoid areas with a high beech density. Move from beech forest to beech forest, or go without favourite food for a year? Edible dormice have an exceptional longevity for rodents with an average life expectancy of up to 13 years. This means that they have to survive more years with lower food availability than other rodents. "Seeds such as the beechnut are an indispensable source of energy for the animals. Their reproduction as well as the survival of the juvenile animals depend on their availability," explains Jessica Cornils of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology. "The edible dormouse must therefore adapt its own lifecycle to that of the beech. We hypothesised that this would also influence their choice of territory." The research team limited its study to two possible scenarios. "Not all beech trees have their mast years at the same time," says the first author. "One possibility for getting at the seeds regularly would be to switch territories between areas with many beeches. The second possibility would be to remain in a single territory that provides alternative food sources, such as conifer seeds, even though these are less energy-rich," says Cornils. For their long-term study, the researchers set up nest-boxes in areas with a high density and in areas with a low density of beech trees. The nest-boxes were available to male and female dormice over the course of nine years. The researchers determined the food availability in each of the areas as well as the age and sex of the animals. The results showed that the dormice almost exclusively moved into nest-boxes in areas with a balanced mix of beech trees and conifers and that they rarely left the boxes once they moved in. This allowed the researchers to show for the first time that the rodents made a pragmatic choice regardless of their sex. "Site fidelity had previously been known only among female dormice. They only rarely leave their territory to look for additional food," says Cornils. "In our study, however, the males also preferred territory with more alternative food sources. Not all nest-boxes were occupied to the same degree every year, but this can be explained by the fact that dormice go into hibernation earlier in non-mast year if their fat reserves allow it. Territory changes were observed mainly among juvenile animals. But this corresponds to their natural instinct to establish their own territory." The study shows that the rodents rely on a safe alternative and a balanced food supply year after year. "In low-mast years, they can fall back on the conifers and other trees as a food source. During mast years, they have the large supply of energy-rich food available to them," explains senior author Thomas Ruf. "Although this tactic represents an excellent survival strategy, it does restrict their reproductive periods." The lifecycle of the dormouse is therefore closely tied to that of the beech trees in their territory. But the animals compensate with a long life and fertility even in old age. A lifecycle with intermittent periods of low and high crop years is typical for northern hemisphere trees such as oak and beech. After producing their energy-rich seeds in mast years, these trees can replenish energy during non-mast years. With the high yield of seeds in mast years, oak and beech trees can secure their own reproduction. Excess seeds that aren't eaten remain to grow into new trees. The article "Edible dormice (Glis glis) avoid areas with a high density of their preferred food plant - the European beech" by Jessica S. Cornils, Franz Hölzl, Birgit Rotter, Claudia Bieber and Thomas Ruf was published in Frontiers in Zoology. https:/ About the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna The University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni Vienna) is one of the leading veterinary, academic and research facilities in Europe. Its main focus is on the research fields of animal health, food safety, animal husbandry and animal welfare as well as biomedical fundamentals. The Vetmeduni Vienna has 1,300 employees and is currently training 2,300 students. The campus in Floridsdorf, Vienna has five university hospitals and numerous research institutions at its disposal. Two research institutes at Wilhelminenberg, Vienna and a Teaching and Research in Lower Austria also belong to the Vetmeduni Vienna. http://www.


Futschik A.,University of Vienna | Schlotterer C.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Genetics | Year: 2010

Next generation sequencing (NGS) is about to revolutionize genetic analysis. Currently NGS techniques are mainly used to sequence individual genomes. Due to the high sequence coverage required, the costs for population-scale analyses are still too high to allow an extension to nonmodel organisms. Here, we show that NGS of pools of individuals is often more effective in SNP discovery and provides more accurate allele frequency estimates, even when taking sequencing errors into account. We modify the population genetic estimators Tajima's π and Watterson's θ to obtain unbiased estimates from NGS pooling data. Given the same sequencing effort, the resulting estimators often show a better performance than those obtained from individual sequencing. Although our analysis also shows that NGS of pools of individuals will not be preferable under all circumstances, it provides a cost-effective approach to estimate allele frequencies on a genome-wide scale. Copyright © 2010 by the Genetics Society of America.


Joachim A.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Parasitology Research | Year: 2010

Encephalitozoon cuniculi is an obligatory intracellular microsporidian parasite that can infect a wide range of mammals, including rodents, rabbits, horses, carnivores and humans, in which the organism is known as an opportunistic pathogen of immunocompromised individuals. Nevertheless, the main host for E. cuniculi is the rabbit and infections usually have a sub-clinical course. However, severe disease is recognised in pet rabbits more frequently within the last years. As the central nervous system, the kidney and the eye are predilection organs for the organism, predominant histopathological alterations comprise granulomatous meningoencephalitis, chronical interstitial nephritis and phacoclastic uveitis. A definitive diagnosis of encephalitozoonosis in vivo is difficult, but it is important for specific treatment and the determination of possible zoonotic risks. This review article covers epidemiology, pathology, pathophysiology, immunology, clinical signs, differential diagnosis, diagnosis and treatment of encephalitozoonosis in rabbits. © Springer-Verlag 2009.


Patent
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Date: 2013-07-02

The invention discloses a method for producing a single bacterial strain culture of Histomonas meleagridis (H. meleagridis), the method being characterised by the following steps: (a) providing a xenic culture of H. meleagridis comprising H. meleagridis cells with a wild type bacterial flora, (b) treating the xenic culture with a mixture of antibiotics thereby killing the wild type bacterial flora, (c) centrifuging and washing the H. meleagridis cells, (d) controlling effectiveness of step (b), (e) resuspending the washed H. meleagridis cells, (f) adding one or more single bacterial strain (s) to the resuspended H. meleagridis cells, and (g) culturing the one or more single bacterial strain (s) with the resuspended H. meleagridis cells so as to obtain a single bacterial strain culture of H. meleagridis. The invention further discloses a vaccine formulation consisting of a Histomonas component consisting of an attenuated culture of Histomonas meleagridis, a bacterial component consisting of one or more cultures of a single bacterial strain, and pharmaceutically acceptable non-biological formulation compounds.


Flatt T.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Experimental Gerontology | Year: 2011

Reproduction shortens lifespan in practically all organisms examined so far, but the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown to date. Here I review what evolutionary and molecular biologists have learned about such "costs of reproduction" in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) since Maynard Smith's (1958) seminal discovery that sterile mutants in D. subobscura live substantially longer than fertile wildtype flies. Together with observations from the nematode worm (Caenorhabditis elegans) and other organisms, the data from Drosophila suggest that there are at least four general principles that underlie trade-offs between reproduction and lifespan: (1) trade-offs between survival and reproduction are widespread; (2) the relationship between increased lifespan and decreased fecundity can be uncoupled under certain conditions; (3) while survival costs of reproduction might not necessarily be due to competitive resource allocation, we lack robust alternative explanations for their occurrence; and (4) physiological trade-offs between reproduction and longevity do not always translate into evolutionary genetic trade-offs. I conclude that - despite much recent progress - our current understanding of the proximate basis of survival costs of reproduction remains very limited; much future work on the genetics and physiology of such trade-offs will be required to uncover their mechanistic basis. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Patent
University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Date: 2014-08-19

Disclosed is a vaccine comprising fiber (2) protein of Fowl Adeno-virus C (FAdV-C) or an immunogenic fragment thereof for use in preventing hepatitis-hydropericardium Syndrome (HHS) in birds, preferably in poultry, especially in broilers.


Palme R.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna
Animal Welfare | Year: 2012

A multitude of endocrine mechanisms are involved in coping with challenges. Glucocorticoids, secreted by the adrenal glands, are in the front line of the battle to overcome stressful situations. They are usually measured in plasma samples as parameters of adrenal activity and thus of disturbance. Unfortunately, collecting blood samples itself can disturb an animal. Thus, non-invasive methods for the determination of glucocorticoids or their metabolites have become increasingly popular. The pros and cons of various non-invasive sample materials (saliva, excreta, milk, hair/feathers and eggs) for glucocorticoid determination are given. Above all, faecal samples offer the advantage that they can be collected easily. In faecal samples, circulating hormone levels are integrated over a certain period of time and represent the cumulative secretion of hormones. Thus, the levels are less affected by short fluctuations or the pulse-like nature of hormone secretion. However, using this technique to assess an animal's adrenocortical activity is not especially simple. Whether frequent sampling is necessary or single samples will suffice depends upon the study's aim (whether one is examining the impact of acute or chronic stressors). Background knowledge of the metabolism and excretion of cortisol/corticosterone metabolites is required and a careful validation for each species and sex investigated is obligatory. The present review also addresses analytical issues regarding sample storage, extraction procedures and immunoassays and includes a comprehensive list of published studies (up to 2011) describing the use of such methods in farmed animals. Applied properly, non-invasive techniques to monitor glucocorticoid metabolites in faecal samples of various species are a useful tool for welfare assessment, especially as they are easily applied at farm or group level. © 2012 Universities Federation for Animal Welfare The Old School.

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