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Aging research: "Sleep" for a long life

When hamsters and other animals go into torpor or hibernation in the winter, the effect appears to be like a bath in a fountain of youth.  Researchers at FIWI have found that animals hat take a time-out in the winter live noticeably longer than related species that do not.  Thomas Ruf and his team are researching hibernation and torpor in Dsungarian hamsters, edible dormice, and common dormice.  The German periodicals Berliner Zeitung and Frankfurter Rundschau reported on their work.

Don´t put all your eggs in one basket – or all your horses on one pasture

Winters in the Gobi desert are usually long and very cold but the winter of 2009/2010 was particularly severe, a condition Mongolians refer to as “dzud”. Millions of livestock died in Mongolia and the re-introduced wild Przewalski’s horse population crashed dramatically.  Petra Kaczensky and Chris Walzer from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology used spatially explicit loss statistics, ranger survey data and GPS telemetry to provide insights into the effect of a catastrophic climate event on wild horses, wild asses and livestock that share the same habitat but show different patterns of spatial use. The results were published in the international journal  PLoS ONE.

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Fit for winter: red deer reduce their metabolism independently from availability of food

Large mammals of our region reduce their metabolism during winter, and with it their energy needs.  This reaction is related to a similar reaction of real hibernators that has been documented for several species by FIWI researchers.  Is the reduction of the metabolic rate during cold periods a direct result of food scarcity, or is it independent of it?  The surprising result: red deer reduce their metabolism even if they have sufficient food resources available.  The research findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.  The study was supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.   

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Back from the brink

In its latest Red List assessment IUCN has downgraded the extinction risk category of Mongolian wild horses from risk category “critically endangered” to “endangered”.   Chris Walzer and Petra Kaczensky from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna have been working on ensuring a successful re-introduction of Przewalski´s horses in Mongolia´s Gobi desert for many years. 

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Hanging with the boys – female Alpine marmots benefit from a bit of pre-natal testosterone

Scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna  have discovered that lifetime reproductive success of female Alpine marmots is influenced by their position as foetuses inside the uterus.  The results were published on 20.10.2011 in the online edition of the international journal Mammal Review .  The Austrian daily paper Die Presse reported about it on 25.11.2011 (in German).

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The best anti-aging regime for mice?

Dr.Teresa Valencak of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, has been dealing with questions of aging - in mice - for a long time.  The Austrian daily paper Der Standard published an interesting article about her research results on Nov 1, 2011 (in German).  Apparently thermoregulation plays a major role in determining the life expectancy of lab mice. 

Catching camels in the Gobi

In October 2011 Prof. Chris Walzer and Dr. Gabrielle Stalder, veterinary scientists at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Veterinary Science University, Vienna, successfully attached GPS satellite collars to endangered wild Bactrian camels in the Mongolian desert. Their efforts are part of the long-term Gobi Research Project on wild horses, Asiatic wild asses, and other animals that make this unique environment their home.

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ECONNECT: Final conference

After three years of research and field work the European Project ECONNECT, which dealt with questions of ecological connectivity in the Alpine space, has come to an end:  the results of the final conference in Berchtesgaden, Germany, from 26 - 28 September 2011, are available.  Representatives from six Alpine countries, as well as experts and scientists from local, national and international organisations participated. 

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Prize for excellent research awarded to young researcher at the Institute of Wildlife Ecology

Dr. Karin Lebl, who wrote her doctoral thesis at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) of the Veterinary Science University, Vienna, was awarded the Fritz-Frank-Prize 2011 during the 85th annual conference of the German Society of  Mammalogy (DGS, 13 - 17 September 2011 in Luxembourg).  The prize is awarded to young scientists for excellent research.  Dr. Lebl received the prize for her work on reproduction, hibernation and life-history strategy of the edible dormouse.  

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Ural owl chicks have fledged

The Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI) particpates actively in efforts to reintroduce Ural owls (Strix uralensis) into the wild in Austria´s forests.  Recently the online magazine Vienna Online reported on the breeding success and release of young Ural owls in suitable habitat, including the Vienna Woods.  .

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Cool hamsters live longer

A bit of sluggishness can be a good thing, at least when it comes to slowing down ageing.  Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna have found a relationship between torpor frequency and telomere length in a study of Djungarian hamsters.  Their results are published in the current issue of the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

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ECONNECT: from ecological islands to ecological networks in the Alps

Within the framework of the ECONNECT-Projects 16 international partners worked together over a three year period for the maintenance, restoration and conservation of ecological connectivity across the entire Alpine Arc.  The results of their work were exhibited until 28. September 2011 in Berchtesgaden (Germany). Project leader is Chris Walzer of the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology (FIWI).

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Taking the heat: Asian elephants simply “ride out” high daytime heat load

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna’s Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology have discovered the mechanism by which Asian elephants are able to tolerate hot daytime temperatures.  Their results are published in the current issue of the international Journal of Comparative Physiology B.

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