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Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research


The "Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Research" was established at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation, (TiHo) on July 1, 2011. Prof. Dr. Ursula Siebert and researchers of the "Ecology of Marine Mammals" working group, previously part of the Research and Technology Centre Westcoast at the University of Kiel (Christian-Albrechts-Universität) in Büsum, joined the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation. Colleagues of the Institute for Wildlife Research (IWFo), an independent institute affiliated with TiHo in Hanover, followed suit on January 1, 2012. Both groups are now integrated in TiHo.

The "Ecology of Marine Mammals" working group already collaborated closely with TiHo's Institutes for Pathology and Toxicology during investigations on marine mammals found dead. When attempts of the working group to further expand were stymied by the framework conditions at the University of Kiel, and efforts were made to integrate the Institute for Wildlife Research in the University of Veterinary Medicine, a merger of both working groups made sense. Terrestrial and aquatic wildlife research makes use of many methods very similar to those applied in field research such as monitoring, population assessment, application of geographic information systems and investigations of health status in wild animals. Inquiries regarding issues such as population size and distribution, effects of anthropogenic disturbances on ecosystems as well as management of wild animal populations and human-animal interactions are central components of the research conducted by both working groups. The scientists of the Institute's two branches complement one another through close methodical collaboration and mutual support.

Currently, the research projects conducted by ITAW are almost exclusively financed through third-party funding. IWFo has benefitted for many years from the dedicated effort of Heinz Gerdemann, chairman of "Verein der Förderer des Instituts für Wildtierforschung e.V." (Association of Supporters of the Institute of Wildlife Research), which has provided extensive financial support. The Association continues to support the research of wildlife biology.

Institute for Wildlife Research (IWFo)


The veterinarian and honorary professor Dr. Hans Schulze formed the Institute for Wildlife Research in Ahnsen (county of Gifhorn) in 1969 as a private initiative.

Scientific research on domestic wild animals was initially focused on practical relevance and sustainable hunting practices. Open space preservation for wild animals continues to play a major role in a cultural landscape perpetually altered by man. Another important reason for the Institute's founding was, without doubt, that Prof. Dr. H. Schulze recognized the significance of connecting the two scientific disciplines of veterinary medicine and wildlife biology. From today's vantage point, the visionary and successful efforts of Prof. Dr. H. Schulze to integrate wildlife biology as a new research area in veterinary medicine and to give it a home at the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover cannot be overvalued. Scientific research at IWFo was secured early on by the financial engagement of the Association of Supporters.

In the beginning the work was centered primarily around investigations on the influence of agricultural chemicals on ground game (ecotoxicology) and initial telemetry investigations in roe and fallow dear (remote transmission of ECG and heart rate). Further, ethical considerations regarding the compatibility of animal protection and hunting as well as killing during hunt in accordance with animal welfare were discussed.

Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Dr. Brass (since 1977) the Institute became an affiliate institute ("An-Institut") of the University of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 in acknowledgment of its scientific achievements. This agreement confirmed the recognition of IWFo as a scientific organization and inclusion as an academic institution, which was manifested, among other things, by the requirement that the honorary leadership of IWFo was to be provided by a professor of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation.  In addition, the Senate of the University created a scientific advisory board for the Institute comprised of three professors. Primary clients include the Hunting Association of Lower Saxony (Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen e.V.) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Lower Saxony, which have supported scientific research of the Institute with association funds and through state hunting permit fees since the 1970ies, and continue to do so. Scientificity and relevance for hunting practice complement one another positively. Over time, the financial support evolved into close collaboration, and IWFo serves as scientific advisor to the Hunting Association and the Ministry of Agriculture.

After the retirement of Prof. Dr. Dr. Brass in 1988, Prof. Dr. Dr. Pohlmeyer assumed leadership of the Institute, and its offices were moved to Hanover. Numerous scientific research projects with then relevant inquiries gradually increased the visibility of IWFo, among which work on deer die-offs caused by 00-Raps and epidemiological investigations of hare and rabbit die-offs caused by so-called China virus stands out. Many other projects deserve mention, such as the ongoing black grouse conservation project, research on open space and habitat use of red deer and wild boar in respect of game damage, the spread of swine fever and wildlife accidents, as well as monitoring of ground game densities with all concomitant investigations (e.g., influence of predation, changes in wildlife habitat and weather).

In 2005 IWFo hosted the annual convention of the International Union of Game Biologists (IUGB) at TiHo, which was attended by approximately 500 scientists and bolstered IWFo's profile globally.

The affiliate Institute for Wildlife Research (IWFo) celebrated its 40th anniversary at its former field office in Ahnsen in August 2009. At the same time, IWFo said farewell to Ahnsen: The field office closed at the end of 2009.




The directors of IWFo:

1969-1976: Prof. Dr. Hans Schulze (founder of IWFo)

1976-1977: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wilhelm Schulze (acting director)

1977-1988: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wilhelm Brass

1988-2008: Prof. Dr. Dr. Klaus Pohlmeyer

2008-2011: Prof. Dr. Burkhard Meinecke (acting director)

Since September 2011: Prof. Dr. Ursula Siebert (formation of ITAW)


"Ecology of Marine Mammals" Working Group (FTZ)


The Research and Technology Centre Westcoast (Forschungs- und Technologiezentrum Westküste, FTZ) was established in 1988 as a central institute of the University of Kiel (Christian-Albrechts-Universität). Under the leadership of Prof. Dr. H. Bohlken and Prof. Dr. H. Schulz, the working group "Ecology of Mammals and Birds" was formed at FTZ with three employees. Early tasks included documentation and cause research of the harbor seal die-off in 1988/89 as well as population biology of harbor porpoises.


This work has been carried out in a rented facility at the former wharf of Büsum, located at the harbor of Büsum, Schleswig-Holstein. Building its own dissection room, the Institute enabled its scientists in 1996 to perform, for the first time, autopsies on marine mammals from the North and Baltic Seas on site in Büsum. In the same year a vacated research position was filled by retaining Dr. med. vet. Ursula Siebert, who concurrently became the deputy of working group leader Prof. Dr. Adelung for the area of marine mammals. After Prof. Adelung's retirement in 2001, Dr. Siebert became leader of the working group "Ecology of Marine Mammals and Birds." The multitude of research activities included monitoring marine mammal populations and habitat use in the entire German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the North and Baltic Seas, bioacoustics, assessment of influences of anthropogenic activity on health status and behavior of marine mammals as well as infectious diseases and zoonoses in the marine ecosystem. The working group, comprised of 22 scientists largely financed through third-party founded research projects, merged with the Institute for Wildlife Research affiliated with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover in 2011.

Current research projects of the Institute for Terrestrial and Aquatic Wildlife Reserach (ITAW) are described here: terrestrial research and aquatic research

Head of institut
Contact facility Büsum
Contact facility Hannover
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