Ursula Siebert

Ursula Siebert
University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover | TiHo · Institut für Terrestrische und Aquatische Wildtierforschung

Prof. Prof. h. c. Dr.

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528
Publications
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9,481
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Publications

Publications (528)
Article
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High numbers of harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) end up as bycatch in gillnets every year. Acoustic alarms (pingers) have been demonstrated to be an efficient mitigation tool to prevent bycatch of this species; however, little is known about the behavioral reactions of wild porpoises to pingers. This knowledge is important for optimizing the de...
Article
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The Common Eider (Somateria mollissima) inhabits the entire northern hemisphere. In northern Europe, the flyway population reaches from the southern Wadden Sea to the northern Baltic coast. The European population is classified as endangered due to declines in Common Eider numbers across Europe since 1990. In this study, we assessed 121 carcasses o...
Poster
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Invasive Batrachochythrium dendrobatidis (Bd) has been detected in wild amphibians in central Europe in numerous cases. Ranaviruses have also been described, although less frequently. There are, however, still large gaps in our understanding of the influence of these pathogens on specific populations. The natterjack toad is an endangered species in...
Poster
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As Germanys largest carnivore, gray seals seem to fill in the role as apex predator. They share the habitat with two other top predators – harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) and harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). Whereas harbour seals are present in stable numbers in the German Wadden Sea and adjacent waters, the gray seal population is still recover...
Article
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Large rivers like the Elbe or the Weser are periodically entered by harbor porpoises of the North Sea. They may even move 97 km upstream to the port of Hamburg, where their presence is highest in spring. This migration is believed to be related to important anadromous prey species travelling upstream for spawning. An acoustic flowmeter in the port...
Article
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Long‐lived top predators shape biodiversity structure in their ecosystems and predator‐prey interactions are critical in decoding how communities function. Studies on the foraging ecology of seals and Eurasian otters in Western Europe are outdated and most studies solely performed traditional hard part analysis. Molecular metabarcoding can be used...
Article
Harbour porpoises are widely distributed in the North Atlantic and represent the most abundant cetacean species in the North and Baltic Seas. Spontaneous neoplasms are relatively rarely reported in cetaceans, and only little is known about neoplasia in harbour porpoises. Thus, archival material was reviewed for spontaneous neoplasms in harbour porp...
Article
We used in-tissue passive equilibrium sampling using the silicone polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) to transfer chemical mixtures present in organs from marine mammals with lipid contents between 2.3-99 % into in vitro bioassays. Tissues from five harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), one harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) and one orca (Orcinus orca) from the...
Article
Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of the H5N8 subtype have been circulating in Europe and Asia since 2016, causing huge economic losses to the poultry industry. A new wave of H5Nx infections has begun in 2020. The viruses mainly infect wild birds and waterfowl; from there they spread to poultry and cause disease. Previous studies have shown...
Article
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Primordial follicles are important for the reproduction cycle and, therefore, also for the survival of the whole population of a species. Mammals have a large pool of primordial follicles, and it is thought that this pool represents the total number of oocytes. The aim of the present study was to determine the total primordial follicle number of ju...
Article
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The apex or apical region of the cochlear spiral within the inner ear encodes for low-frequency sounds. The disposition of sensory hair cells on the organ of Corti is largely variable in the apical region of mammals, and it does not necessarily follow the typical three-row pattern of outer hair cells (OHCs). As most underwater noise sources contain...
Article
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There has been a considerable number of reports on Hg concentrations in Arctic mammals since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to mercury (Hg) in Arctic biota in 2010 and 2018. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of health risk associated with Hg conce...
Article
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The level of knowledge on microplastic exposure in marine mammals is limited by the access to dead and alive individuals. Focusing on the Northeast Atlantic area, some studies already confirmed the microplastic presence in free-ranging marine mammals, such as harbour porpoises or harbour seals inhabiting the North Sea (NS). In contrast, knowledge o...
Article
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In brain tissue of three harbor seals of the German North Sea Coast, high virus loads of highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N8 were detected. Identification of different virus variants indicates high exposure to HPAIV circulating in wild birds, but there is no evidence for H5 specific antibodies in healthy seals. Replication of avian...
Article
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Since 2008/2009, the population of free-ranging ring-necked pheasants was recorded to decrease all over Germany. Various Mycoplasma ( M .) spp. are causing severe respiratory signs in captive game bird species. Furthermore, M. gallisepticum is responsible for massive die-offs in consequence to severe conjunctivitis in house finches in the USA. Ther...
Article
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Pestiviruses are widespread pathogens causing severe acute and chronic diseases among terrestrial mammals. Recently, Phocoena pestivirus (PhoPeV) was described in harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) of the North Sea, expanding the host range to marine mammals. While the role of the virus is unknown, intrauterine infections with the most closely r...
Article
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Harbour porpoises are under pressure from increasing human activities. This includes the detonation of ammunition that was dumped in large amounts into the sea during and after World War II. In this context, forty-two British ground mines from World War II were cleared by means of blasting in the period from 28 to 31 August 2019 by a NATO unit in t...
Article
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Congenital hearing loss is recognized in humans and other terrestrial species. However, there is a lack of information on its prevalence or pathophysiology in pinnipeds. It is important to have baseline knowledge on marine mammal malformations in the inner ear, to differentiate between congenital and acquired abnormalities, which may be caused by i...
Article
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Due to little prior knowledge, the present study aims to investigate the health status of bycaught harbour porpoises from the northernmost Arctic Norwegian coastline. Gross, histopathological and parasitological investigations were conducted on 61 harbour porpoises ( Phocoena phocoena phocoena ) accidentally captured in fishing gear from February t...
Chapter
The study and protection of environmental and human health is complex given the variety of anthropogenic and natural stressors threatening the well-being of exposed organisms. Researchers have turned to wild animals as sentinel species to study the critical questions relating to environmental chemical contamination and potential adverse health effe...
Article
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In times of massive biodiversity loss and ongoing environmental crises, it is extremely important to ensure long-term conservation efforts of threatened species like Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra). To gain insights into the status of Northern Germany’s otter population, 92 otters found dead in Schleswig-Holstein between 2015−2020 were collected and...
Article
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Urbanisation and invasion of wildlife into urban areas as well as human leisure activities create diverse wildlife-domestic animal-human interfaces, increasing the risk of (zoonotic) parasite spillover from sylvatic to domestic and synanthropic cycles. This study investigated the endo- and ectoparasite fauna, emphasising on parasites of One Health...
Article
The impressive breath-hold capabilities of marine mammals are facilitated by both enhanced O 2 stores and reductions in the rate of O 2 consumption via peripheral vasoconstriction and bradycardia, called the dive response. Many studies have focused on the extreme role of the dive response in maximizing dive duration in marine mammals, but few have...
Article
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A variety of mammals suppress reproduction when they experience poor physical condition or environmental harshness. In many marine mammal species, reproductive impairment has been correlated to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), the most frequently measured chemical pollutants, while the relative importance of other factors remains understudied. We...
Article
Ringed seals (Pusa hispida) are slowly recovering in the eastern and northern parts of the Baltic Sea after years of hunting pressure and contaminant exposure. Still, consequences of anthropogenic activities such as contaminant exposure and increasing temperatures are stressors that continue to have deleterious effects on their habitat and health....
Article
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Toxoplasma gondii infection has been reported in numerous species of marine mammals, some of them with fatal consequences. A serosurvey for T. gondii infection was conducted in pinnipeds from an oceanographic park in Portugal (n = 60); stranded pinnipeds on the Portuguese coast (n = 10); and pinnipeds captured in Lorenzensplate, Germany (n = 99). S...
Article
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Canine distemper virus (CDV) and phocine distemper virus (PDV) are major pathogens to terrestrial and marine mammals. Yet little is known about the timing and geographical origin of distemper viruses and to what extent it was influenced by environmental change and human activities. To address this, we (i) performed the first comprehensive time-cali...
Article
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The harbor porpoise, Phocoena phocoena , is the only cetacean regularly occurring in the Baltic Sea. During the last decades, several anthropogenic activities have affected porpoises in the Baltic region. Most notably is bycatch in static fishing gear, such as gill nets, which is the main human-induced cause of death in odontocetes. There is still...
Article
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Evidence of hearing impairment was identified in a harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) on the basis of scanning electron microscopy. In addition, based on histopathology and immuno-histochemistry, there were signs of unrelated cerebral toxoplasmosis. The six-year old individual live stranded on the Dutch coast at Domburg in 2016 and died a few hou...
Article
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High wild boar population densities lead to demands for a population reduction to avoid crop damages or epidemic diseases. Along with biological studies, a better understanding of the human influence on wildlife and on wildlife management is important. We conducted inquiries on hunting methods and on hunters’ attitudes in the Federal State of Lower...
Article
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Animal-borne tags (biologgers) have now become extremely sophisticated, recording data from multiple sensors at high frequencies for long periods and, as such, have become a powerful tool for behavioural ecologists and physiologists studying wild animals. But the design and implementation of these tags is not trivial because engineers have to maxim...
Article
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Hunting can easily be linked to stress in wildlife. Drive hunts performed two to three times in one area during the respective hunting period, are thought to decrease the pressure hunting places on wildlife. Nevertheless, the expression of cortisol—one of the main mammalian stress hormones—is considered to have negative impacts on animals’ well-bei...
Article
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Background: The giant anteater belongs to the supraorder Xenarthra which occupies a systematically isolated position among placental mammals. The species is categorized as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and understanding its reproductive characteristics is critical for future conservation efforts. Methods: Gros...
Article
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Tail flukes as well as the dorsal fin are the apomorphic traits of cetaceans which appeared during the evolutionary process of adaptation to the aquatic life. Both appendages present a wing-like shape associated with lift generation and low drag. We hypothesized that the evolution of fins as lifting structures led to a generic wing design, where th...
Article
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Infectious diseases in captive pheasants ( Phasianus colchicus ) are well known, but there is a lack of knowledge about occurrence and distribution of pathogens in free-ranging pheasants in Germany. We investigated 604 sera from hunted pheasants and 152 sera from wild caught pheasants between 2011 to 2015, with the aim to determine the prevalence o...
Article
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of emerging substances that have proved to be persistent and highly bioaccumulative. They are broadly used in various applications and are known for their long-distance migration and toxicity. In this study, 65 recent specimens of a terrestrial apex predator (Common buzzard), freshwater and mar...
Article
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The occurrence of 19 cetacean species along the German North Sea coastline as well as the lower reaches of the major rivers discharging into the German Bight is reviewed for the period 1604–2017 based on records of dead animals, either stranded dead or put to death. The harbour porpoise ( Phocoena phocoena ) is considered the most abundant and only...
Article
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Background: The wild boar population in Europe is steadily growing, one of the reasons for this increase probably being the high reproductive potential of this large mammal. Population management is important to stabilise wild boar numbers and a great deal of attention is focusing on the reasons, which might contribute to the high reproductive rat...
Article
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Bacteria of the genus Arcanobacterium can be found in a variety of hosts. The species Arcanobacterium phocisimile was originally identified in a free-living harbor seal in the German North Sea in 2004. Here, we announce the complete genome sequence of Arcanobacterium phocisimile strain DSM 26142.
Article
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A successful wildlife management requires monitoring. Including non-scientific volunteers into monitoring actions is a common way for obtaining long-term and comprehensive data. Hunters present a valuable target group as they are spread out nationwide in Germany and additionally, they provide a know-how regarding game species. Since 1990s, various...
Article
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Analysis of hair cortisol concentrations (HCCs) is a promising method for monitoring long-term stress in mammals. However, previous measurements of HCCs in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have yielded highly variable results, which are likely due to different methodological approaches. In this study, hair samples of zoo-housed polar bears were analyz...
Article
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Microplastic ingestion by lower trophic level organisms is well known, whereas information on microplastic ingestion, egestion and accumulation by top predators such as cetaceans is still lacking. This study investigates microplastics in intestinal samples from harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) found along the coastline of SchleswigHolstein (Ge...
Article
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Marine mammals are increasingly threatened in their habitat by various anthropogenic impacts. This is particularly evident in prey abundance. Understanding the dietary strategies of marine mammal populations can help predict implications for their future health status and is essential for their conservation. In this study we provide a striking exam...
Article
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Pseudaliid lungworm (Metastrongyloidea) infections and associated secondary bacterial infections may severely affect the health status of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) in German waters. The presented retrospective analysis including data from 259 harbour porpoises stranded between 2006 and 2018 on the German federal state of Schleswig-Holst...
Article
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Whale lice (Cyamidae; Amphipoda) are ectoparasitic crustaceans adapted to the marine environment with cetaceans as their host. There are few reports of cyamids occurring in odontocetes from the North Sea, and long-term studies are lacking. Marine mammal health was monitored along the German and Dutch coasts in the past decades, with extensive post...
Article
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Central place foragers are expected to offset travel costs between a central place and foraging areas by targeting productive feeding zones. Harbour seals ( Phoca vitulina ) make multi-day foraging trips away from coastal haul-out sites presumably to target rich food resources, but periodic track points from telemetry tags may be insufficient to in...
Article
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Over the last decades, exhaled breath sampling has been established for laboratory analysis in various cetacean species. Due to their small size, the usability of respiratory vapor for hormone assessments was questionable in harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). This pilot study compared three different blow collection devices for their suitability...
Article
The subpopulation of the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) living in the Mekong River, Cambodia, is considered to be critically endangered. The aim of the investigation was to gain information about the genetic variation, health status and exposure to toxic compounds of these dolphins. Tissue samples from 27 Irrawaddy river dolphins found d...
Article
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Marine mammals are sentinels for the marine ecosystem and threatened by numerous factors including infectious diseases. One of the most frequently isolated bacteria are beta-hemolytic streptococci. However, knowledge on ecology and epidemiology of streptococcal species in marine mammals is very limited. This review summarizes published reports on s...
Article
This preliminary study investigated the potential correlations between trace elements (mercury, zinc, cadmium, copper, selenium, lead, nickel, chromium, lithium and vanadium) concentrations, measured in red blood cells, and oxidative stress biomarkers (total thiols, total glutathione, total and selenium-dependent glutathione peroxidases, triglyceri...
Article
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This introductory chapter to our Environment International VSI does not need an abstract and therefore we just include our recommendations below in order to proceed with the resubmission. Future work should examine waterbirds as food web sentinels of multiple stressors as well as Baltic Sea food web dynamics of hazardous substances and how climate...
Article
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In order to conduct an objective evaluation of potential ecological effects of grey seal predation on marine mammals, it is essential to establish a broad knowledge base helping in the thorough identification of such cases during post-mortem examination. The aim of this work is to report and discuss outcomes resulting from a retrospective evaluatio...
Article
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The North Sea is one of the most heavily used shelf regions worldwide with a diversity of human impacts, including shipping, pollution, fisheries, and offshore constructions. These stressors on the environment can have consequences for marine organisms, such as our study species, the harbor porpoise ( Phocoena phocoena ), which is regarded as a sen...