FIWI Annual Report 2015

The 2015 annual report (in German) can be downloaded here (click on the image).
Cover photo of the annual report 2015




Invitation to the Citizen Science Award Ceremony

Logo Young Science [Link 1]

The Federal Ministry for Science, Research and the Economy and the Austrian exchange service are inviting to this year´s Citizen Science Award Ceremony on 13 December 2016 at 5 p.m. at the  great hall (Festsaal) of the University of Vienna.

From 1 April to 30 September 2016, interested parties were invited to participate in 10 citizen science projects. The most committed citizen scientists will receive an award from the German Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economics and the scientific project leaders. The project "StadtWildTiere [Link 2]" of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology is also taking part in the event.

To attend the ceremony registration [Link 3] is required by 6 December 2016.

More info [Link ]

(Web editor, 20 October 2016)


New Saker falcon record in Austria: 64 young in the breeding season 2016

Despite the renewed breeding success the Saker falcon is an endangered species in Austria (Photo © Richard Zink/Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of a young Saker falcon [Link 4]
Artificial nest boxes on power line masts are offered to and readily accepted by the birds. (Photo © Franz Kovacs)
Photo of the nest box for a Saker falcon on a power line mast [Link 5]

By the mid-1970s the Saker falcon (Falco cherrug) was considered as almost extinct in Austria.  However, over the past few years that has been a strong positive population development trend, partly thanks to the mounting of nesting aids on powerline masts. This has been documented since 2010 by Dr. Richard Zink from the Research Institute for Wildlife Ecology of Vetmeduni Vienna and BirdLife Austria. The project is supported by Austrian Power Grid AG, which finances it and enables the mounting of nesting aids on its network.

The breeding season 2016 constitutes a record for the Saker falcon in every respect and continues the success story of the conservation of these rare birds of prey. 36 breeding pairs reared 64 young birds, 12 young falcons more than in the previous year. Despite this notable upward trend the Saker falcon still belongs to the list of endangered birds of prey in Austria.

More info (in German)
 [Link 6]

(Web editor, 21 October 2016)


New book: Alpine Nature 2030 Creating [ecological] connectivity for generations to come

The book Alpine Nature 2030 (ISBN 978-3-00-053702-8) was published in September 2016. To view or download it klick on the photo.
Book cover Alpine Nature 2030 [Link 7]

A new book [Link ] on nature conservation in the Alpine region, which scientists of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology edited and co-authored, underlines the themes and results of a long-term process of collaboration with the Network of Alpine Protected Areas ALPARC with a multitude of partners in Alpine countries, aimed at the establishment of comprehensive, technical, political and strategic principles for implementing the Nature Protection and Landscape Conservation Protocol of the Alpine Convention.  The focus of this collaboration is in particular the establishment of an Alps-wide ecological network to contribute to the conservation of European biodiversity.  

The books was first presented at the fourth AlpWeek 2016, which took place in October in Grassau/Achental (Germany).  In addition to the handbook, three video clips "Life needs connectivity- Three love stories" were produced, which illustrate the concepts of "ecological connectivity" in an entertaining way.  You can have a look at the videos at the ALPARC Youtube platform [Link 8].

More info [Link 9]

(Web editor, 19 October 2016)


Closing the data gap on stable isotopes in precipitation in the Mongolian desert

The stable isotopes in the river Bij and other water bodies in the Djungarian Gobi steppe are now available in the international isotope database. (Photo Martina Burnik Sturm, Vetmeduni Vienna)
Photo of the Bij river in Mongolia [Link 10]

Stable isotopes (atoms of the same element with the same number of protons but different number of neutrons in the nucleus, and thus with different masses) are powerful forensic recorders that can be linked to large scale patterns in the landscape. Over the last decade, global hydrogen and oxygen isotopic patterns of precipitation have increasingly been used in studies on animal migration, forensics, food authentication and traceability studies. However, records of the stable isotope composition of precipitation spanning one or more years are available for only a few hundred locations worldwide.

Data for Mongolia are especially scarce;  there were none at all for the Dzungarian Gobi until Martina Burnik Šturm and Petra Kaczensky from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and colleagues were able to close this gap by providing the first field-based data for this extremely arid environment on the hydrogen and oxygen isotope values of precipitation, as well as for rivers and various other water bodies.

More info [Link 11]

(Web editor, 14 October 2016)


Citizen Science: The first scientific publication on the project StadtWildTiere (urban wildlife) is out

Foxes are frequently seen in Vienna´s gardens and parks. (Photo Archive StadtWildTiere)
Fox on a road [Link 12]

Our team "StadtWildTiere" (urban wildlife) is pleased to announce that their first short publication on the project is now online.  The project team presents first results of project activities that were begun in 2015.  Public parks, gardens and other urban green spaces provide habitat for foxes, badgers and other mammals, and also for birds, reptiles and amphibians.  An impressive 3384 wildlife sightings were collected via the  Internet-Plattform [Link 13] of the project [Link ] between 27 May 2015 and 9. February 2016

The article „Where pathways cross: citizen science project StadtWildTiere in Vienna, Austria [Link 14]" by Richard Zink and Theresa Walter was published OPEN ACCESS (free for all) in the online journal Frontiers.

(Web editor, 9 September 2016)


High food availability slows down cell aging in edible dormice

The research team analyzed DNA and hence the length of the telomeres in saliva of the dormouse to describe the cell age. The so called arousals increase the cell aging of the dormouse. High food availability during the active phase not only compensates this effect, it also rejuvenates the cells. (Photo: Vetmeduni Vienna)
Young edible dormice in nest box [Link 15]

Hibernation has long been considered the secret behind the relatively long lifespan of the edible dormouse. However, a team of researchers from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) has now shown for the first time that high food availability during the active season in summer contributes to a long life. Increased food availability during this time allows the animals to slow their cellular aging. The study was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

“Telomeres get shorter with every cell division and are therefore considered a biological marker of ageing”, explains Franz Hoelzl from Vetmeduni Vienna’s FIWI. Telomeres form protective caps at the ends of the chromosomes to prevent genomic degradation. When the telomeres become too short, cell division is no longer possible and the cell looses the potential to divide and dies. It had previously been assumed that the slow-down of body functions during hibernation was responsible for decreasing the rate of telomere degradation. The edible dormouse’s long torpor-phases would thus contribute to its high life expectancy.

The article „Telomere dynamics in free-living edible dormice (Glis glis): the impact of hibernation and food supply [Link 16]“ by Franz Hölzl, Jessica S. Cornils, Steve Smith, Yoshan Moodley and Thomas Ruf was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

More info [Link 17]

(Web editor, 2 September 2016)


Caught in the wire: The rise of border security fences forces reconsideration of wildlife conservation strategies in Eurasia

The migration of Asiatic wild ass in the Gobi is cut off by border fences. (Photo P. Kaczensky)
Photo of wild ass at the border fence [Link 18]
Fences can be deadly obstacles for wildlife. (Photo Dejan Kaps)
Photo of a dead red deer caught in a fence [Link 19]

Between 25.000 and 30.000 kilometres of wire fences and walls surrounds the borders of many countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. This is killing wildlife that becomes entangled and acts as a barrier to wildlife movements, cutting species off from important seasonal habitats. The long-term consequences are a lower viability of wildlife populations, and a reduction in their ability to respond to climate change. This situation forces a re-think of transboundary conservation strategies.

Petra Kaczensky from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and colleagues from various international research institutions present for the first time an overview of the current situation and the resulting challenges, including for species conservation.  

The article "Border security fencing and wildlife: the end of the transboundary paradigm in Eurasia? [Link 20]" by Linnell, J.D.C., Trouwborst, A., Boitani, L., Kaczensky, P., Huber, D., Reljic, S., Kusak, J., Majic, A., Skrbinsek, T., Potocnik, H., Hayward, M.W., Milner-Gulland, E.J., Buuveibaatar, B., Olson, K.A., Badamjav, L., Bischof, R., Zuther, S. & Breitenmoser, U.  was published in the journal PLoS Biology.

(Web editor, 22.6.2016)


Antibiotic resistance in wildlife

Multi-resistant bacteria were found in a wild mouflon (Photo Petra Karstedt (User admin at CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo of a mouflon

Infections with antibiotic-resistent bacteria have become an increasing problem in medical treatment.  But humans are not the only ones affected.  Researchers at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, together with colleagues from the Working Group for Clinical Microbiology and Animal Hygiene, have examined European mouflons for the presence of resistant bacteria. They found bacteria from the family Enterobacteriaceae in one of the examined animals.  Since the examined mouflons were free-ranging specimens and had not been treated with antibiotics, it is likely that the animal acquired the bacteria from its natural environment, where human often pass through as well.  Before this study a team around Dr. Chris Walzer had found out that migratory rooks and resident crows also carry these bacteria.  They have also been found in several other species of wildlife.  

The article "Characterization of ESBL- and AmpC-Producing and Fluoroquinolone-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae Isolated from Mouflons (Ovis orientalis musimon) in Austria and Germany [Link 21]" by Igor Loncaric , Christoph Beiglböck, Andrea T. Feßler, Annika Posautz, Renate Rosengarten, Chris Walzer, Ralf Ehricht, Stefan Monecke, Stefan Schwarz, Joachim Spergser und Anna Kübber-Heiss was published in May 2016 in the international journal PLOS One.

(Web editor, 10 June 2016)



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