Joerg Melzheimer

Joerg Melzheimer
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research · Department of Evolutionary Ecology

PhD

About

91
Publications
27,824
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804
Citations
Introduction
I am a keen conservationist working in the field of human wildlife conflict and I have expert knowledge in cheetahs and leopards. High-tech-geek. Serial inventor. Trouble shooter. Science communicator.
Additional affiliations
May 2005 - present
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Position
  • Project Manager

Publications

Publications (91)
Poster
Full-text available
The project focuses on interactions among wild felids in Europe and Africa, but also includes research on other aspects of felid ecology in other parts of the world. Project aims • Study patterns of avoidance and attraction among the selected species of cats in space and time • Obtain novel insights into indirect communication among different cats...
Article
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Space-based tracking technology using low-cost miniature tags is now delivering data on fine-scale animal movement at near-global scale. Linked with remotely sensed environmental data, this offers a biological lens on habitat integrity and connectivity for conservation and human health; a global network of animal sentinels of environmental change.
Article
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Introduction to the broad public of the InterMuc Project in Namibia
Article
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The forage maturation hypothesis (FMH) states that energy intake for ungulates is maximised when forage biomass is at intermediate levels. Nevertheless, metabolic allometry and different digestive systems suggest that resource selection should vary across ungulate species. By combining GPS relocations with remotely sensed data on forage characteris...
Article
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Behavioural studies of elusive wildlife species are challenging but important when they are threatened and involved in human-wildlife conflicts. Accelerometers (ACCs) and supervised machine learning algorithms (MLAs) are valuable tools to remotely determine behaviours. Here we used five captive cheetahs in Namibia to test the applicability of ACC d...
Article
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Anthrax is a bacterial disease caused by Bacillus anthracis that affects wildlife, livestock and also humans in different parts of the world. It is endemic in some parts of Africa, including Namibia, with species differing in their susceptibility to the disease. Carnivores are typically less susceptible to anthrax than herbivores. Most carnivore sp...
Article
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Background Improved knowledge on vector-borne pathogens in wildlife will help determine their effect on host species at the population and individual level and whether these are affected by anthropogenic factors such as global climate change and landscape changes. Here, samples from brown hyenas ( Parahyaena brunnea ) from Namibia (BHNA) and spotte...
Article
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Current tracking technology such as GPS data loggers allows biologists to remotely collect large amounts of movement data for a large variety of species. Extending, and often replacing interpretation based on observation, the analysis of the collected data supports research on animal behaviour, on impact factors such as climate change and human int...
Article
In climates with seasonally limited precipitation, terrestrial animals congregate at high densities at scarce water sources. We hypothesize that viruses can exploit the recurrence of these diverse animal congregations to spread. In this paper, we test the central prediction of this hypothesis -- that viruses employing this transmission strategy rem...
Article
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Immunity and parasites have been linked to the success of invasive species. Especially lower parasite burden in invasive populations has been suggested to enable a general downregulation of immune investment (Enemy Release and Evolution of Increased Competitive Ability Hypotheses). Simultaneously, keeping high immune competence towards potentially...
Article
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The cheetah is a prominent example for human–carnivore conflicts and mitigation challenges. Its global population suffered a substantial decline throughout its range. Here, we present an in-depth and new understanding of the socio-spatial organization of the cheetah. We show that cheetahs maintain a network of communication hubs distributed in a re...
Article
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A retractable larynx and adaptations of the vocal folds in the males of several polygynous ruminants serve for the production of rutting calls that acoustically announce larger than actual body size to both rival males and potential female mates. Here, such features of the vocal tract and of the sound source are documented in another species. We in...
Conference Paper
Recent advances in tracking technology allow biologists to collect large amounts of movement data for a variety of species. Analysis of the collected data supports research on animal behaviour, influence of impact factors such as climate change and human intervention, as well as conservation programs. Analysis of the movement data is difficult, due...
Poster
Full-text available
Wildlife research as well as wildlife management often requires live trapping of animals. For ethical and welfare reasons, the capture should be selective, efficient and minimize the possibility of injuries and stress levels. Here, we present an automatic solar powered box-trap controlled by a microcomputer that uses a GSM/GPRS modem to communicate...
Article
Full-text available
Determining species distributions can be extremely challenging but is crucial to ecological and conservation research. Environmental DNA (eDNA) approaches have shown particular promise in aquatic systems for several vertebrate and invertebrate species. For terrestrial animals, however, eDNA-based surveys are considerably more difficult due to the l...
Article
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Satellite telemetry is an increasingly utilized technology in wildlife research, and current devices can track individual animal movements at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolutions. However, as we enter the golden age of satellite telemetry, we need an in-depth understanding of the main technological, species-specific and environmental fact...
Data
R-code for boosted beta regression (Fix acquisition rate). (R)
Data
Covariate partial effects on the variability of the fix acquisition rate. (PDF)
Data
Tagged individuals per species. (PDF)
Data
Covariate partial effects on the variability of the Overall fix success rate. (PDF)
Data
Trends in observed data. (PDF)
Data
Global dataset for boosted beta regressions. (CSV)
Data
Description of data fields in S1 Data. (CSV)
Data
Satellite telemetry articles published. (PDF)
Data
Distribution of response variables and covariates. (PDF)
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Unit purchase and operation costs. (PDF)
Data
R-code for boosted beta regression (Overall fix success rate). (R)
Data
Standardized data collection questionnaire. (PDF)
Data
Satellite telemetry evaluations. (PDF)
Article
Physiological stress markers may provide valuable insight for our understanding of costs of given life-history strategies or of wildlife health condition, most importantly in case of threatened species. In the last decade, there has been growing interest in the ecological relevance of cellular oxidative stress, which would provide complimentary inf...
Article
Despite its IUCN Red List status as “least concern,” relatively few studies have been conducted on serval Leptailurus serval. Within Namibia, serval are detected infrequently, even during prolonged camera trapping surveys, which has been suggested as indicative of low density. Such populations are vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation; therefo...
Article
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Abstract Population estimates are a fundamental requirement of ecology and conservation. While capture–recapture models are an established method for producing such estimates, their assumption of homogeneous capture probabilities is problematic given that heterogeneity in individual capture probability is inherent to most species. Such variation mu...
Article
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Viruses may have a dramatic impact on the health of their animal hosts. The patho-physiological mechanisms underlying viral infections in animals are, however, not well understood. It is increasingly recognized that oxidative stress may be a major physiological cost of viral infections. Here we compare three blood-based markers of oxidative status...
Article
Full-text available
In mammals, male spatial tactics and sociality can be predicted from the size, degree of overlap and ease of defense of female individual or group home ranges (HRs). An exception is apparently the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) for which studies from East Africa describe a socio-spatial organization where resident males defend small territories, which...
Article
Full-text available
Apex predators in terrestrial ecosystems, such as leopards in the African savanna, feed on a wide variety of prey species, yet it is unknown whether individuals specialize on certain prey, and whether specialization changes with body traits. Here, we asked whether individual specialization of adult leopards (Panthera pardus) varies with sex, body m...
Article
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Citizen science (CS) has evolved over the past decades as a working method involving interested citizens in scientific research, for example by reporting observations, taking measurements or analysing data. In the past, research on animal behaviour has been benefitting from contributions of citizen scientists mainly in the field of ornithology but...
Article
Camera traps are an increasingly used tool in ecology, having the ability to capture large numbers of photographic records in short survey periods. For many surveys, the number of non-target records outweighs those of focal species, making them a potentially rich and often under-utilised data source. Occupancy analysis of non-target data represents...
Chapter
Cheetahs have unique social and mating systems, as well as hunting techniques. Males are either territory holders defending small territories or floaters roaming in large, overlapping, undefended home ranges. Both spatial tactics are adopted by solitary males or coalitions of males. Females are solitary unless accompanied by offspring. They give bi...
Article
Full-text available
Assessing the numbers and distribution of threatened species is a central challenge in conservation, often made difficult because the species of concern are rare and elusive. For some predators, this may be compounded by their being sparsely distributed over large areas. Such is the case with the cheetah Acinonyx jubatus. The IUCN Red List process...
Data
Details of cheetah persecution data in Namibia
Data
Overlap of cheetah distribution with the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA)
Data
Additional detail on presence data and distribution mapping
Data
Known cheetah lifespans in southern Africa
Data
Relationship of cheetah presence locations with covariates i.e., human and livestock densities
Data
Implementation of the Leslie Matrix model
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Distribution of research and crowd sourced presence observations in the study area in southern Africa
Data
Comparison of the cheetah distribution detailed here with that published by the IUCN
Data
Farm characteristics where cheetah persecution occurred
Data
Cheetah metapopulation data in South Africa
Article
In recent years, ecological studies have shown that oxidative status can have a significant impact on fitness components in free-ranging animals. This has raised awareness by conservation practitioners about the importance of identifying the factors associated with individual variation in markers of oxidative status because this might provide sever...
Chapter
The cheetah has experienced a dramatic decline in its distribution, with an adult and adolescent population of 7100 individuals remaining in the wild. Southern and eastern Africa have the largest populations, whereas west, central, and northern Africa have considerably smaller populations as a regional total. In Asia cheetahs are critically endange...
Chapter
Considerable research has been conducted on cheetah ecology. Cheethas can exist in a wide variety of habitats from thick shrub to open grassland, and habitat selection is based on a variety of factors, including visibility, prey density, and avoidance of competitively superior predators. Cheetahs naturally occur at low densities and require a prey...
Chapter
Live capture, tagging, and sampling of free-ranging animals are important means of acquiring health, genetic, and ecological data for wildlife conservation and management. We summarize best-practice procedures for capture, anesthesia, handling, sample collection, and marking of cheetahs. In all capture events involving anesthesia, data collection s...
Article
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Host traits and environmental factors drive the natural variation in gut microbiota and disruption in homeostasis can cause infections and chronic diseases. African wildlife is increasingly facing human-induced agricultural habitats, which also amplifies the contact probability with livestock with unknown consequences for wildlife gut microbiotas a...
Article
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Although the significance of the gut microbiome for host health is well acknowledged, the impact of host traits and environmental factors on the inter-individual variation of gut microbiomes of wildlife species is not well understood. Such information is essential, however, since changes in the composition of these microbial communities beyond the...
Article
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As a textbook case for the importance of genetics in conservation, absence of genetic variability at the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is thought to endanger species viability, since it is considered crucial for pathogen resistance. An alternative view of the immune system inspired by life history theory posits that a strong response shoul...
Article
Carnivore conservationists agree that addressing the socioeconomic needs of people is critical to human-carnivore conflict mitigation. We therefore welcome studies that encompass complex social and cultural factors that affect the severity of human-carnivore conflict on Namibian farmlands. However, we contend that the recent study by Rust et al. (2...
Article
Full-text available
Establishing and maintaining protected areas (PAs) are key tools for biodiversity conservation. However, this approach is insufficient for many species, particularly those that are wide-ranging and sparse. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus exemplifies such a species and faces extreme challenges to its survival. Here, we show that the global population i...
Article
Establishing and maintaining protected areas (PAs) are key tools for biodiversity conservation. However, this approach is insufficient for many species, particularly those that are wide-ranging and sparse. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus exemplifies such a species and faces extreme challenges to its survival. Here, we show that the global population i...
Article
Full-text available
The serval Leptailurus serval is one of the more cryptic cat species to occur in sub-Saharan savannahs. While its conservation status is Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, records are sparse, especially in semi-arid anthropogenic landscapes. We report a series of 38 observations, both current (2006-2014) and historic (1911-1977), that show that se...
Article
Full-text available
Determining the immunological phenotype of endangered and threatened populations is important to identify those vulnerable to novel pathogens. Among mammals, members of the order Carnivora are particularly threatened by diseases. We therefore examined the constitutive innate immune system, the first line of protection against invading microbes, of...