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








Unusual insights: the Gobi Desert through the eyes of a khulan

Wild ass (Khulan) in the Gobi desert, Photo © P. Kaczensky
Photo of a herd of wild ass in the Gobi desert 1

For the effective conservation of endangered species, it is important to know as much as possible about their habitat requirements and life history. An international research team led by Vetmeduni Vienna therefore equipped an Asiatic wild ass – a so-called khulan – in the Gobi desert with a new kind of satellite collar which included a camera. The recently published results of the research project are promising: in addition to a significant gain in knowledge for science and wildlife conservation, the additional information gained from the images also offers the general public exciting new insights into the way of life of a far ranging species in a very remote and challenging environment.

Although GPS satellite telemetry already makes it possible to track animals in near-real time such remotely collected data also harbours the risk of missing important abiotic or biotic environmental variables or life history events. This is of particular importance for animals with large-scale nomadic movements, as is the case with khulan.  The authors of the study have used a small subset of the images from the camera collar to supplement the publication with a popular version in StoryMap-format 2.

The article "Through the eye of a Gobi khulan – Application of camera collars for ecological research of far-ranging species in remote and highly variable ecosystems 3“ by Petra Kaczensky, Sanchir Khaliun, John Payne, Bazartseren Boldgiv, Bayarbaatar Buuveibaatar and Chris Walzer was published in PLOS ONE.

More information 4

(Web editor, 19 June 2018)


Brown bears store fat for a good winter

Seasonal lipid adjustments in body fat go hand in hand with hibernation (Photo Jon M. Arnemo)
Hibernating brown bear with half open eyes in the snow

Some people would like to hibernate through the winter - just like brown bears do every year. Hibernating bears lower their body temperature only slightly (2-5 ° C) to a value between 30 ° C and 36 ° C. The role of body fat composition on winter hibernation was now examined for the first time in wild brown bears by an international team led by researchers from the University of Strasbourg and the Vetmeduni Vienna. The two most important findings: unsaturated fatty acids play an important role during hibernation and the composition of the fat stores of large hibernating animals is very similar to that of small hibernators. As shown by Sylvain Giroud and his co-authors, the shift in lipid composition appears to be an evolutionarily conserved hibernation phenomenon that appears independent of body mass and body temperature.

The article “Lipidomics Reveals Seasonal Shifts in a Large-Bodied Hibernator, the Brown Bear 5” by Sylvain Giroud, Isabelle Chery, Fabrice Bertile, Justine Bertrand-Michel, Georg Tascher, Guillemette Gauquelin Cook, Jon M. Arnemo, Jon E. Swenson , Navinder J. Singh, Etienne Lefai, Alina L. Evans, Chantal Simon and Stéphane Blanc was published in Frontiers in Physiology.

More info 6

(Web editor, 16 May 2018)


When hares have a stomach ache

European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) Photo ©Tatiana/AdobeStock
European hare in a flower meadow

More and more often diseases of the digestive tract are detected in European hares. The reason is often changes in the intestinal microorganisms, the so-called microbiome. Little was known about the reasons for this. A recently published study led by Gabrielle Stalder from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at Vetmeduni Vienna shows for the first time that habitat-related environmental factors could be responsible for the changes in the composition of intestinal bacteria. The geographical location and thus potentially associated environmental factors have a significantly greater influence on the composition of the microbiota than host factors. From the results of the study, new hypotheses can be deduced, which explain some of the factors that affect the population fluctuations of European brown hares. This research at the interface of gut health and land use in relation to European hares and potentially other species affected by rapid changes or intensive use of their habitat is important for understanding the impact of environmental factors on the gut microbiome and thus on the health of field hares. The study also involved the Institute for Food Safety, Food Technology and Public Health.

The articlel „Gut microbiota of the european Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus)“  7by G. L. Stalder, B. Pinior, B. Zwirzitz, I. Loncaric, D. Jakupović, S. G. Vetter, S. Smith, A. Posautz, F. Hoelzl, M. Wagner, D. Hoffmann, A. Kübber-Heiss and E. Mann was published in Scientific Reports.


Mehr Information 8

(Web editor, 25 April 2019)


The latest FIWI annual report is now available for download

FIWI Jahresbericht 2018
cover photo of the FIWI annual report 2018 9

The FIWI annual report 2018 summarizes the result of several of our research topics.  The report is in German language and can be downloaded from our website. 


Go to the Downloadpage 10

(Web editor, 17 April 2019)


In Svalbard reindeer the inner clock is always ticking

Svalbard reindeers stick to their natural circadian rhythm despite midnight sun and polar winter. (Photo: © dieter leve /
Reindeer herd in the snow 11

All animals have an internal clock with a cycle length that deviates slightly from 24 hours, and that synchronizes based on cues from external "timers", usually the daily change from day to night. It was uncertain whether this internal clock also functions in the Polar Regions, where there is continuous darkness for months during winter and steady light in the summer. A research team led by Walter Arnold from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology at the Vetmeduni Vienna examined this question for wild reindeer on Svalbard, using for the first time a high-resolution telemetry system. They studied not only the behavior, but also the physiology of the animals. They found that - contrary to earlier findings - a circadian rhythm persists throughout the year.

The article “Circadian rhythmicity persists through the Polar night and midnight sun in Svalbard reindeer 12” by Walter Arnold, Thomas Ruf, Leif Egil Loe, R. Justin Irvine, Erik Ropstad, Vebjørn Veiberg and Steve D. Albon was published in Scientific Reports.

(Web editor, 16 November 2018)



News archive... 13



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