[Translate to English:] Hase, Schweinswal, Fasan, Europäischer Otter, Seehunde

Wildlife research is focused on basic research, applied research and monitoring. ITAW's goal is to elucidate the biology and ecology of wild animals as well as to investigate the influence of anthropogenic activities on wildlife. Health status and populations are assessed. Research is concentrated on:


1) Investigations on Health Status

Clinical and morphological pathology of different wild animals

Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) on thr floor before dissection.
Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) before dissection. Photo ITAW
Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) on section table. Photo ITAW
Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) on section table. Photo ITAW

Auditory research: audiometric measurements, CT, morphology and impairment of hearing due to noise burden, harmful substances and pharmaceuticals 


the inner ear of harbor porpoise
Morphologic investigation of the inner ear of harbor porpoise. ©photo ITAW
Harbor seal with in-ear headphones
Harbor seal with in-ear headphones. © ITAW

Infectious diseases / zoonoses: effects of parasitic, bacterial and viral infections (in particular, distemper infection in seals), fomites, resistencies


Cetaceans with whale lice on skin
Cetaceans with whale lice on skin. ©photo: ITAW
Lung of harbor seal with lungworm infestation
Lung of harbor seal with lungworm infestation. © ITAW

Endocrine, immune, reproductive, respiratory and digestive systems, nutritional status


Two boar and their reproductive system
Reproductive system of boar. ©photo: ITAW
Emaciated harbour porpoise and harbour porpoise in good condition
Emaciated harbour porpoise and harbour porpoise in good condition. Photo ITAW

Effects of chemical and acoustic pollution of the environment Determination of good environmental status (natural influences vs. anthropogenic influences) Epidemiology

2) Investigations on Habitat Use

Population surveys of marine and terrestrial mammals primarily through aerial and ship-based surveys, spotlight surveys, photo traps, infrared cameras, etc.


Partenavia for aerial surveys of marine mammals
Partenavia for aerial surveys of marine mammals; ©photo: ITAW
Swimming muskrat, captured with a photo trap
Muskrat, captured with a photo trap. Photo ITAW

Deployment of towed hydrophone and stationary T-PODs (acoustic click detectors), recording of environmental noise


Deployment of a towed hydrophone
Deployment of a towed hydrophone. ©photo: ITAW
Acoustic click detector
Acoustic click detector. ©photo:ITAW

Fitting of transmitters on wild animals to elucidate activity patterns, orientation, acoustic influences and feeding


European wildcat (Felis silvestris) with necklace transmitter
European wildcat (Felis silvestris) with transmitter.Ⓒ ITAW
Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) with D-Tag
Harbor porpoise with D-Tag © Teilmann

Feeding ecology (stomach contents, fatty acid analyses, analysis of stable isotopes, stool samples, telemetry, survey of food availability) 



Otoliths of Gobiidae from harbor porpoise stomachs.
Otoliths of Gobiidae, stomach contents © ITAW
Fatty acid analysis using gas chromatography.
Fatty acid analysis using gas chromatography. © ITAW

Development of habitat models (using physical and biological environmental characteristics)

3) Effects of Anthropogenic Interference 

Acoustic and chemical pollution of the environment

a ship and some smoking chimneys of chemical industry at the shore
Anthropogenic sources of chemical pollution
Explosion of war ammunitions. ©photo: Kampfmittelräumdienst
Explosion of war ammunitions. © Kampfmittelräumd.

Fishery, tourism, shipping, agriculture, forestry, animal production and hunting


moving fishery vehicle.
Fishery vehicle. ©photo: ITAW
A tractor spreads pesticides
Use of pesticides in agriculture. ©photo: ITAW

Road construction and waterway engineering: cutting up of habitats, green bridges
Biogas and wind turbine plants Offshore activities (e.g., construction of wind turbines, seismic and military activities)


Scrapped tripods for anchorage of offshore wind turbines.
Tripods, anchorage of offshore wind turbines. ©photo: ITAW
Offshore Windpark
Offshore Windpark. Photo Pexels

Cumulative effect of the inferences listed

Some stranded sperm whales
Stranded sperm whales. photo Brunckhorst-LKN-SH

4) Re-establishment, Return, Re-introduction of Wild Animals

Re-establishment of extinct wild animal species (e.g., wisent, lynx)

 European wildcat in a forest
European wildcat (Felis silvestris). Photo ITAW
Wolf pack (Canis lupus) in an outdoor enclosure.
Wolf pack (Canis lupus) in an outdoor enclosure. Photo Thorsten Vaupel

Effects of reintroduction and rehabilitation programs on wild animal populations



Blackcock (Tetrao tetrix) on a field path.
Blackcock (Tetrao tetrix). ©photo: ITAW

5) Databases and Sample Repositories 

The vast majority of these research efforts are financed through third-party funding obtained from state and federal ministries, the European Union and numerous foundations, as well as through funding of the Association of Supporters (Förderverein). Research contracts are assigned to the Institute by the Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Rural Development of the State of Lower Saxony, the Federal Foundation for the Environment (Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, DBU), the Nature+Human Foundation (Stiftung Natur+Mensch) and the Hunting Association of Lower Saxony (Landesjägerschaft Niedersachsen e.V.). Scientific cooperations exist with numerous research institutions (links) in Germany and beyond. Scientists of ITAW serve on several international bodies (e.g., TSEG, ASCOBANS, ICES, IWC, IAPEME) and advise the German federal government on the implementation of treaties. (particularly: distemper infections in seals)

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