Claudia Bieber habilitates in animal ecology

Claudia Bieber habilitated in the area of animal ecology. (Photo: Claudia Bieber/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of Claudia Bieber

The zooligist Dr. Claudia Bieber of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna recently habilitated in her special research area, animal ecology.  Within the framework of her habilitation thesis Dr. Bieber researched the influence of fluctuating environmental conditions on the optimal timing of reproduction in wildlife species. 

Bieber specialized early in the field of animal ecology, which researches the relations between animals and their environment.  During her research at the University of Marburg Bieber concentrated on the edible dormouse (Glis glis). At FIWI she broadened the spectrum of her research subjects to common dormice and wild boars [Link 1].  Her main interest is in the influence of environmental conditions on life history strategies. 

More info (in German)
 [Link 2]

(Web editor, 18 January 2016)


First discovery of a hibernating primate outside Madagascar

Pygmy slow loris are the first known hibernating primates outside Madagaskar. (Photo: Tilo Nadler)
Photo of a pygmis slow loris [Link 3]

Up to now, three species of lemurs on Madagascar were the only primates known to hibernate. Now a team at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni Vienna, collaborating with colleagues from the Vietnamese Endangered Primate Rescue Center, has discovered another primate that hibernates: the pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus).

The researchers found out that the examined slow lorises repeatedly showed hibernation episodes lasting up to 63 hours between December and February. The underlying reason is likely an endogenous annual clock, which induces hibernation at a time of the year when food abundance is decreasing. However, it is also the decreasing ambient temperature that triggers hibernation. During the cold season food is sparse. Hibernation then helps to save energy.

The article „Hibernation in the pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus): multiday torpor in primates is not restricted to Madagascar [Link 4]” by Thomas Ruf, Ulrike Streicher, Gabrielle L. Stalder, Tilo Nadler and Chris Walzer was published in Scientific Reports of the Nature Publishing Group.

More info [Link 5]

(Web editor,  3 December 2015)


Bear news - the first project bulleting of LIFE DINALP BEAR

The first project bulletin contains reports on the situation of brown bears and updates on project activities.
Cover image LIFE with bears bulletin [Link 6]

The Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology is one of 9 regional project partners in the EU Project LIFE DINALP BEAR [Link 7].  Together with partners in other countries in the regien our goal is to further scientific knowledge on the slowly progressing spread of Slovenian brown bear populations, partly also into Souther Austria.  The first project bulletin "LIFE with bears [Link 8]"  is now available  for download on the  official project website [Link 9].  One of the artciles describes the current situation of bears in Carinthia (p.15).

Recently a label of "bear friendly" products [Link 10] was created.  Products are now available to purchase - maybe an idea for one or the other small Christmas present?


(Web editor, 20 November 2015)




Prof. Dr. Walter Arnold nominated as "Austrian of the year" in the area of research

Austria15 Logo
Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter Arnold
Photo of Walter Arnold

The Austrian daily paper Die Presse asks its readers every year to vote on the "Austrian of the year".  Men and women are nominated in several categories, if they have achieved something important for Austria in their area.  This year our head, Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter Arnold, was nominated in the area of research. 

He was voted among the top 3 by the Presse readership.  Although in the end the prize in the area of research went to the waste researcher Marion Huber-Humer (BOKU), the nomination itself is an honour for the Instiute and for   Prof. Arnold.

(Web-Redaktion am 27.10.2015)


Theresa Walter wins 3rd place at the Vetmeduni Science Slam

Three researchers placed third. Theresa Walter, Stephanie Lürzel and Raounik Mazumdar shared the prize. (Photos: Thomas Suchanek)
2 photos of the science slam [Link 11]

The first ever Science Slam of the Vetmeduni Vienna took place on 15 October.  Researchers of the university made short and lively presentations, competing for the audience´s favour.  After a clicker-vote the winners were determined and awarded a prize by the rector´s office. 

Theresa Walter of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology presented her urban fox project.  She is researching where and when red foxes are seen in Vienna.  She shares third place with two other researchers who won the same number of click-votes.  Congratulations to our young scientist!

More info [Link 12] (in German)

(Web editor, 16 October 2015)


Lazing away the summer - Some dormice start their hibernation early

Edible dormouse (Glis glis) in a tree (Photo: © Claudia Bieber/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of an edible dormouse on a branch [Link 13]

Typically hibernation is expected to occur during winter. It is all the more astonishing that wildlife biologists from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have shown for the first time that dormice can enter hibernation already in June or July. However, they do not do this every year.  Rather, they choose to hibernate when successful reproduction and rearing of their offspring is not possible. Early hibernation in this case serves as a strategy to decrease the risk of predation.

The article „How to spend the summer? Free‑living dormice (Glis glis) can hibernate for 11 months in non‑reproductive years [Link 14]” by Franz Hoelzl, Claudia Bieber, Jessica S. Cornils, Hanno Gerritsmann, Gabrielle L. Stalder, Chris Walzer and Thomas Ruf was published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology B [Link 15].

More info [Link 16]

(Web editor, 8 September 2015)


Nightly human-fox encounters – foxes sighted mainly in Western Vienna

Foxes are sometimes seen in the castle Schoenbrunn`s park. (Photo (c)
Photo of a fox in Schoenbrunn [Link 17]

Vienna’s inhabitants have reported about 300 foxes in the urban area to the internet platform [Link 18] during the last three months. These reports demonstrate that wild animals do not only live in remote woods, but more and more also in cities. Wildlife ecologist Theresa Walter from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the Vetmeduni Vienna investigated when and where in Vienna one is most likely to meet a fox. First analyses show that foxes are primarily seen at night in the western districts such as Hietzing and Penzing. The results were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society in Göttingen on 2 and 3 September 2015.

More info [Link 19]

(Web editor, 3 September 2015)




The European Hare is a picky eater

European hares need habitat with high plant diversity, where they can find fatty grasses and herbs. (Photo Jiří Nedorost_Lizenz
CC BY-SA 3.0 via
Wikimedia Commons)
Photo of a European hare [Link 20]

In many children´s books one can find pictures of a hare in a cabbage patch. In reality, European hares have high nutritional requirements, which large-scale intensively farmed monoculture fields often cannot meet.  Hares have a relatively high energy demand. Unlike small mammals they do not live in protective burrows or nests, which would help with body temperature regulation. Hare mothers give birth to precocious, rapidly growing young that are exposed to all kinds of weather conditions. Hare mothers feed their young with energy-rich high-fat maternal milk (containing more than 20% fat). For milk production the hare mothers therefore need sufficient body fat reserves. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) seem to be especially important for reproduction and survival of the hares. In collaboration with the Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management of the University of Agricultural Sciences the researchers have now carried out a multiyear study in the agricultural landscapes of eastern Austria, which showed that hares prefer fatty plants and plant-parts all year round.  Surprisingly the researchers did not find a preference for plants with a high PUFA content. An adequate supply of these essential components of the diet appears to be ensured by their specific extraction in the digestive tract. Overall, the results suggest that the promotion of heterogeneous cultural landscapes with high plant diversity and fallow land could counteract the Europe-wide decline in hare populations.

The article “The European Hare (Lepus europaeus): A Picky Herbivore Searching for Plant Parts Rich in Fat [Link 21]” by Stephanie Schai-Braun, Thomas Reichlin, Thomas Ruf, Erich Klansek, Frieda Tataruch, Walter Arnold and Klaus Hackländer appeared in July 2015 in the journal PLOS ONE [Link 22].

More info [Link 23]

(Web editor, 1 September 2015)


Wild boars are gaining ground – climate change boosts population growth

Wild boars produce a very large number of offspring compared to other ungulates. (Photo: Sebastian Vetter/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of wild boar piglets with mother [Link 24]

The wild boar population in Europe is growing. However, the reasons for this growth were not yet clear. Sebastian Vetter and other scientists from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) have now found out that climate change plays a major role. The number of wild boars grows particularly after mild winters. Food availability is also a decisive factor. There are more wild boars after years with high beechnut yield. Vetter and the research team at FIWI working with wild boars are going to continue their research in this field.

The article „What Is a Mild Winter? Regional Differences in Within-Species Responses to Climate Change [Link 25]" by Sebastian G. Vetter, Thomas Ruf, Claudia Bieber, and Walter Arnold was published in the Journal Plos One [Link ].

More info [Link 26]

(Web editor, 12 August 2015)



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