Fast food for brown bears

Foto eines Braunbären im Wald [Link 1]Slowenische Braunbären haben es leicht mit der Nahrungssuche. (Foto: Petra Kaczensky)

The availability and quality of food have an important influence on the behaviour and population dynamics of wildlife.  In Slovenia, like in many European countries brown bears receive supplemental food to facilitate hunting or to ward off bear damages.  This management measure is expensive and controversial, as its effect on bears is not well studied.  Petra Kaczensky from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology/Vetmeduni Vienna and colleagues from the Biotechnical Institute and the Forestry Institute of the University of Ljubljana wanted to find out what role supplemental feeding plays in the bears´energy budget and in the occurrence of bear damages.  They analysed more than 700 scat samples from three different regions in Slovenia.  They found a high proportion of supplemental food in the bears´diet.  The authors warn, however, that undifferentiated feeding of bears may not necessarily lead to a reduction in conflicts.  The article "Fast food bears: brown bear diet in a human-dominated landscape with intensive supplemental feeding [Link 2]"  ist published in the January 2015 edition of the journal Wildlife Biology [Link 3].

More info [Link 4]

(Web editor, 8 January 2015)


Europe´s wild side - the comeback of lynx, wolf, brown bear and wolverine

Photo of a lynx [Link 5]The lynx was long a rare visitor in European forests. (Photo: Petra Kaczensky)

Threats to endangered species is regularly in the news.  All the better that sometimes there are success stories.  Petra Kaczensky, Georg Rauer and Felix Knauer of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and other international researchers have published a study in the renowned journal Science.  The article shows that large predators - lynx, wolf, brown bear, and wolverine - are finding new habitat even in densely populated Europe.  Altogether Europe now hosts populations of about 17.000 bears, 12.000 wolves, 9.000 lynx and 1.250 wolverines in its densely populated cultural landscapes.  The return of lynx and co. leads to heated discussions in many places. An ongoing dialogue with stakeholders and an active conflict management are very important.

More info (Science article)
 [Link 6]

(Web editor, 19 December 2014)


The power of the power nap – Scientists uncover secrets of hibernation

Photo of a young dormouse in a nestbox [Link 7]The common dormouse is native to Europe and lives predominantly in forest habitat. Here a juvenile dormouse in a nestbox. (Photo: Stefan Stumpfel / Vetmeduni Vienna)

For hibernating mammals, the pre-winter months are a race against time to accumulate enough energy reserves to last until spring. Offspring born late in the year have much less time to achieve this. Sylvain Giroud and colleagues from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni Vienna have discovered that power-napping can help late-born garden dormice overcome these unfavourable odds. The scientists also found a link between time spent at higher temperatures and ageing. The results were published in the Journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B [Link 8].

More info [Link 9]

(Web editor, 10 November 2014)


DZG prize for best poster in the ecology category

Photo of the award-winning poster [Link 10]The award-winning poster

During its 107th annual meeting the German Zoological Society (DZG) awarded the prize for best poster in the ecology category to Jessica Cornils, doctoral student at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology.  The poster  "RFID-reader is watching you: measuring activity patterns in freeliving edible dormise (Glis glis) [Link 11]" describes research being undertaken for the project on predation risk, stress, and life history tactics of edible dormice. [Link 12]  We are happy for her.

(Web editor, 22 September 2014)


New FWF Project on "Effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids on hibernation and ageing" approved

Portrait photo of Dr. Sylvain GiroudDr. Sylvain Giroud

Hibernators save energy by substantially decreasing metabolic rate and body temperature, but spend  about 80% of their energy expenditure to repeatedly warm up during winter. However, the function of these arousals remains a mystery.  A new project under the leadership of Sylvain Giroud will examine some of the physiological/metabolic processes, notably those affected by polyunsaturated fatty acids, of hibernating garden dormice.  Polyunsaturated fatty acids are known to be one of the main factors affecting the time hibernators can stay in torpor.  The project (P 27267), which was recently approved, is financed by the Austrian science Fund (FWF) [Link 13] and will run from 1 September 2014  to 31 August 2017. 

(Web editor, 5 September 2014)



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