Ecophysiology of Omega Fatty Acids: A Lid for Every Jar

The function of proteins in cell membranes (green) is evidently influenced by situation- dependent fatty acid composition (Figure (c) FIWI)
Graphic representation of membrane function [Link 1]

Researchers from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology has come up with some new hypotheses on the function of unsaturated fatty acids (Omega fatty acids), derived from an analysis of a multitude of scientific publications on the function of polyunsaturated fatty acids, which animals have to take up through food.  Their findings are of importance for future research in medicine and wilflife biology.  

The paper reaches the conclusion that the optimal fatty acid composition of cell membranes is situation-dependent and independent of the actual uptate of Omega-fatty acids through food. This completely new point of view opens promising perspectives for future research.  The article “Ecophysiology of Omega Fatty Acids: A Lid for Every Jar [Link 2]” byWalter Arnold, Sylvain Giroud, Teresa Valencak, and Thomas Ruf appeared in May 2015 in the jounral Physiology.

More info [Link 3]

(Web editor, 21 July 2015)


The rhythm cells go by – Daily changes in human cells

Fatty acid composition in human cell membranes changes throughout the day. (Photo: Susanne Schwaiger)
Photo of a marine sunset [Link 4]

Life is subject to natural rhythms, such as the light and dark cycle or seasonal variation in temperature. A recent study by researchers at the Vetmeduni Vienna, shows that the composition of human cell membranes varies depending on the time of day. These cyclical changes in cell membranes could have a significant impact on health and disease.  This may help to explain why certain diseases and even death tend to occur at specific times of day. In addition to consuming sufficient quantities of important healthy fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil or oleic acids in olive oil, it may also be important to choose the right time for intake. The article  „Daily and Seasonal Rhythms in Human Mucosa Phospholipid Fatty Acid Composition [Link 5]” by Thomas Ruf and Walter Arnold was published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms.

More info [Link 6]

(Web editor, 20 July 2015)


People and nature – does the dualistic world view exist in Europe´s conservation practice?

Photo of a landscape with lake [Link 7]
The close connection between culture and nature in Europe is complex, but also enriching and has managed to maintain or enable the return of a multitude of landscape types and animal species. (Photos P. Kaczensky)
Photo of horses grazing on an alpine pasture [Link 8]

There are two classic approaches to nature conservation:  the dualistic approach, which strictly separates culture from nature, and the integrative approach, which unites them.  Does this classic separation really exist in European conservation practice?  Using examples from landscape, - species,- and protected area management the authors of a recent article in the journal Conservation Biology show that conservation in Europe tends to be much more pragmatic.  There is no clear definition of a strictly defined separation of nature and culture.  The boundaries between "wild" and "domesticated", between protected areas and surrounding landscapes, are blurred and change over time as a result of shifts in societal preferences.  At a landscape level the practical and legal specifications in Europe unify people and nature, e.g. by regarding both cultural landscapes and use of natural areas as worth protecting, or by applying species protection measures beyond protected area boundaries.  Nevertheless, increasingly there appears to be value placed on wilderness - areas where natural processes can take place without direct human influence -, but these only make up a small proportion of European land surface.  For the future of nature conservation in Europe it is important to recognize the complexity of the value of "nature" and to consider it in planning and implementation. 

The article "Framing the relationship between people and nature in the context of European conservation [Link 9]" by John D. C. Linnell, Petra Kaczensky (FIWI), Ulrich Wotschikowsky, Nicolas Lescureuxund Luigi Boitaniwas published in the journal Conservation Biology erschienen.

(Web editor, 2 June 2015)


Open House celebrating the Vetmeduni Vienna´s anniversary year

The Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution was represented with many interesting stations. (Photo Vetmeduni Vienna/ Dept.5)
Photo of Dept.5 island on the Vetmeduni Open House Day 2015 [Link 10]

The Vetmeduni Vienna celebrated its 250th anniversary year on 30 May 2015 with a special Open House day.   The university campus was open to visitors, and research institutes, clinics, and public areas hosted many public events.  Animal lovers, people interested in research activities, prospective students, and of course children flocked to the campus.  Overall 5.330 visitors came! The Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution with its two institutes, the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, provided insights into the fascinating world of wildlife research.  

More info [Link 11]

(Web editor, 1 June 2015)


New web platform for wildlife sightings in Vienna launched

Foxes evidently like Vienna. (Photo:
Photo of a fox in a park [Link 12]

Wild animals are increasingly moving into urban habitats.  To investigate exactly where and what species are establishing a presence in Vienna, researchers at the Vetmeduni Vienna have created the web platform "StadtWildTiere" in Vienna.  Richard Zink of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the Vetmeduni Vienna initiated this platform, which was initially developed by the Association StadtNatur (urban nature) for Austria.  Citizens are invited to participate in this citizen science project.  Observations feed into research projects [Link 13] and can be viewed online on a map.

More info (in German)
 [Link 14]

Link to the website StadtWildTiere [Link 15]

(Web editor, 29 May 2015)


Exhibition "Consequential Choices - Versions of Atlas Making"

Invitation - Graphic design (c) 2015 Pepa Bugueiro Domingo
Invitation image [Link 16]

The exhibition "Consequential Choices - Versions of Atlas Making [Link 17]" opened on Tuesday 26th May 2015 at the Angewandte Innovation Laboratory (Franz Josefs Kai 3, entrance Wiesingerstraße 9, 1010 Vienna). The exhibit  presents works of students of the Art & Science master’s programme, University of Applied Arts Vienna.  The art project´s theme is the question what happens when the creation of a scientific atlas is (re)enacted at the margins of a discipline where it meets the (in)consequential choices of artistic research.  Prof. Chris Walzer of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology is scientific advisor to the Art & Science master’s programme.  The exhibition is open from 27 May to 2 June 2015, Mo to Fr from 11 am to 8 pm.

(Web editor, 28 May 2015)


Energy and nature in the Alps: a balancing act

The Podium discussion on "renewable energy and nature protection in the Oberallgäu – a contradiction?" was well attended. (Photo (c) CIPRA)
Photo of the final conference [Link 18]
Conference participants took active part in the discussion. (Photo (c) CIPRA)
Photo of conference participants [Link 19]

When we produce energy with water, biomass, wind and solar technology, the global climate benefits.  But the production of renewable energy can also have negative impacts on the various ecosystem services that nature provides us with, such as clean water and air, carbon sequestration, or recreational opportunities.   The project has developed methods to aid decision making that can help with sustainable land use.  Most importantly, biodiversity and natural ecosystems should be conserved in a state that allows them to continue fulfilling their useful functions.  The expansion of renewable energy production facilities therefore has to be planned carefully, bearing such trade-offs in mind.  On 21 and 22 May 2015 the project partners from the Alpine region presented their results to the public during the final conference in Sonthofen, Germany.  Participants were invited to discuss these topics with the experts.  

More info on the project [Link 20]

Summary of the results by IIASA [Link 21]

(Web editor, 25 May 2015)


The latest FIWI annual report 2014 has arrived

Annual report 2014
Cover image FIWI annual report 2014 [Link 22]

To download the report  (in German) please klick on the cover image.  You can find all FIWI annual reports on our info page [Link 23].


The hairy past - Tail hair as an indicator of behaviour and ecology in horses

A Przewalski's mare with her foal in the Mongolian Gobi desert. (Foto: Martina Burnik Šturm)
Photo of a Przewalski-horse mare with foal [Link 24]

Life style leaves chemical traces in hair. In horses, the analysis of tail hair is especially suited as the length of the hair can provide information over a long period of time. Determining the exact period of time that corresponds to a segment of hair is not trivial. Hair does not grow at the same rate in all horses. Petra Kaczensky and Martina Burnik Sturm of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology have now solved this problem. They developed a method to correctly assign individual hair growth to seasons and thus to a specific time frame. The results were published in the journal  Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry [Link 25].  

More info [Link 26]

(Web editor, 7 May 2015)



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