FIWI Annual Report 2018

You can download the FIWI annual report for the year 2018 by clicking on the picture. (Report in German only)
Cover photo of the FIWI annual report 2018








Assessing long-distance movements in large mammals - who walks the furthest?

Photo (c) P. Kaczensky
Asian wild ass herd 1

Long-distance migrations of wildlife are globally threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, although they are critical to conservation of many species. Scientists from the FIWI Conservation Medicine Unit and international colleagues from the WCS (New York) and other institutions used GPS collars to analyze the extent to which various mammals moved throughout the year. These results have just been published in the journal Scientific Reports. It turned out that caribou or reindeer from numerous populations actually have the longest migrations (total distances over 1,200 km). Surprisingly, however, some species, e.g. wolves or the khulan (Mongolian wild ass) covered even greater distances throughout the year, although they did not regularly migrate like reindeer.

The data not only demonstrate the remarkable mobility of these species, but also highlight the need for large-scale connectivity of habitats to ensure the long-term survival of wide-ranging species.

More info (Vetmeduni website, in German) 2

(Web editor, 31 October 2019)


Vetmeduni Vienna, Carinthia and Hohe Tauern National Park can look back on the successful 1st Mallnitz Days

Walter Arnold (Vetmeduni Vienna), Günther Novak (Mayor Mallnitz), Barbara Ladstätter (Dept. of Education, Carinthia), Klaus Eisank (Hohe Tauern National Park) and Provincial Council Sara Schaar (from left to right) at the 1st Mallnitz Days. Photo © Peter Schober
Group photo Walter Arnold (Vetmeduni Vienna), Günther Novak (Mayor Mallnitz), Barbara Ladstätter (Dept. of Education, Carinthia), Klaus Eisank (Hohe Tauern National Park) and State Councilor Sara Schaar (from left to right) at the 1st Mallnitz Days 3

Back in February 2019, the Province of Carinthia and the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, signed a letter of intent presenting a sustainable concept for the further development and expansion of the university infrastructure in Carinthia. Now the cooperation has begun to bear fruit - in the form of the first Mallnitz Days, which took place from 17 to 18 October 2019 in the National Park Visitor Center in Mallnitz. The Hohe Tauern National Park offers ideal conditions for research and education in wildlife science. For this reason, the focus of the 1st Mallnitzer Tage was on the themes of wildlife ecology and management. Well-known experts of the Vetmeduni Vienna provided the attendees with comprehensive knowledge in the course of numerous workshops, such as how to determine the age of red deer, or the future of chamois in the Eastern Alps. Walter Arnold, Leonida Fusani, Christoph Beiglböck and Friederike Range of the Department of Interdisciplinary Life Sciences reported on their research methods and results.

More info 4 (in German)

(Web editor, 21 October 2019)


Everything has its price, including hibernation

Deep hibernation is associated with costs at a cellular level, which has to be repaired actively and at a high energetic cost. (Photo © Claudia Bieber)
Edible dormouse on a branch 5

Many mammals survive the cold season by hibernating. The lower their body temperature, the more energy hibernators can save. What is basically positive, however, has a big catch: Lower temperatures lead to an increased shrinkage of the protective caps of the chromosomes, the so-called telomeres, and this considerable damage can lead to the death of the cell and can be repaired only with great energy expenditure. Researchers at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni Vienna have now discovered in experiments with garden dormice and edible dormice that animals who hibernate at higher temperatures maintain longer telomeres, but also use more energy. The research team found significant differences in the shortening of the telomeres of the two species studied, when they hibernated either at 3 ° C or at 14 ° in the laboratory.

The article "Always a price to pay: hibernation at low temperatures comes with a trade-off between energy savings and telomere damage 6" by Julia Nowack, Iris Tarmann, Franz Hölzl, Steve Smith, Sylvain Giroud, and Thomas Ruf was published in Biology Letters.

(Web editor, 14 October 2019)


A quick guide to marmots

A pair of marmots (Photo (c) Ingo Arndt)
Two marmots on a rock 7

Did you know that marmots belong to the squirrel family? Or that there are 15 different types of marmots, all of which live only in the northern hemisphere? And do all marmots hibernate? Answers to these and other questions can be found in the recently published "Quick Guide" article "Marmots" by Walter Arnold in the prestigious journal Current Biology.

Click through for the  article 8

(Web editor, 3 October 2019)


The impact of supplemental winter feeding on the rumen microbiota of roe deer

Photo ©
roe deer on a dew-covered meadow 9

Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) populate wide areas of Europe and face seasonal variations in food availability. In some European countries, including Austria, it is therefore common practice to provide game animals with supplemental feed in winter. In a joint research project, the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology and the Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health at Vetmeduni Vienna, together with the Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), investigated to which extent supplementary winter feeding affects the bacterial composition in the rumen. The researchers analysed the rumen bacterial composition of free-ranging female roe deer, comparing animals from a study area with supplemental feeding sites to individuals relying on natural feed.

The results revealed a significant qualitative difference between the microbiota composition of the two populations studied. The change in the ruminal microbiota caused by supplemental winter feeding suggests a negative effect on the health status of roe deer. The high abundance of unclassified bacterial strains found in this study show that more knowledge is needed about the ruminal microbiota in wild ruminants.

The article "Impact of supplemental winter feeding on ruminal microbiota of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus)" 10 by Sara Ricci, Robin Sandfort, Beate Pinior, Evelyne Mann, Stefanie U. Wetzels, and Gabrielle Stalder was published in the renowned journal Wildlife Biology.

More info 11

(Web editor, 1 October 2019)


Multidrug-resistant bacteria: urban brown rats as possible source

Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) are particularly relevant for the spread and evolution of multidrug-resistant bacteria. (Photo © Amélie Desvars-Larrive)
Rat in a trap 12

The emergence of multidrug-resistant pathogens is becoming an ever-increasing global concern for human and animal health. A research team has now found that around one in seven rats (14.5%) captured in the Vienna city centre between 2016 and 2017 were carrying multidrug-resistant enterobacteria, E. coli being the main representative of this group. The prevalence of multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in rats in Vienna is thus comparable to that observed in previous studies in other major cities such as Berlin (13.6%) and Hong Kong (13.9%). Additionally, more than half of the rats in Vienna (59.7%) were found to be carriers of multidrug-resistant staphylococci.

The work is the result of an international cooperation between Vetmeduni Vienna (Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Institute of Microbiology), the Austrian Agency for Food Safety (AGES), the Free University of Berlin and the Leibniz Institute for Photonic Technologies. Despite their bad reputation, rats are very useful for science. These rodents are common in urban areas and come into contact with all types of wastewater. Scientists take advantage of this fact to gather information about possible antibiotic resistance in rats in the urban environment.

The article "Urban brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) as possible source of multidrug-resistant Enterobacteriaceae and meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus spp., Vienna, Austria, 2016 and 2017 13“ by Amélie Desvars-Larrive, Werner Ruppitsch, Sarah Lepuschitz, Michael P Szostak, Joachim Spergser, Andrea T. Feßler, Stefan Schwarz, Stefan Monecke, Ralf Ehricht, Chris Walzer and Igor Loncaric was published in Eurosurveillance.

More information 14

(Web editor, 9 September 2019)



News archive... 15



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