Biotope Blog

Biotope Blog

On this page we keep you updated on everything concerning the BioDiversum. How is the progess on the construction work? What animals and plants are there to see? What else is going on? Find out here!


June 13, 2024

Netted

A nocturnal visit to the BioDiversum: At the end of May, two bat experts were lying in wait at our pond from sunset until the early morning hours. Why?

Commissioned by the city of Göttingen, they wanted to catch and tag bats to find out which species live in the Göttingen forest. Our biotope pond near the forest edge offered an ideal attraction for the thirsty and hunting mammals.

No sooner said than done: They set up large, fine nets and had gloves ready to carefully free and identify the captured bats.

Four pipistrelle bats (Pipistrellus pipistrellus) and one greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis) were caught in the net – but all were released without transmitters. The former species is not a forest but a building dweller, and the latter was a male, only females should be tagged. The experts could also observe a Daubenton’s bat (Myotis daubentonii) and a serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus) above the pond. The sensitive animals quickly noticed the nets in the open landscape and stayed away from them.

We are happy about the exciting findings – with or without transmitters – and would like to thank David Singer and his colleague from the Office for Applied Animal Ecology!

 


May 21, 2024

Hustling and bustling in the kestrel box

After about four weeks of tense waiting, the time has finally come: Five of the six kestrel chicks have hatched over the weekend!

Hatching takes a lot of preparation and energy. The initially blind chicks begin to breathe a few days beforehand. As the shell becomes thinner and thinner and water evaporates, more air is available in the egg. It is also time to test the voice: The chicks communicate with their parents by making sounds to let them know whether they are doing well.

The real feat comes with the actual hatching. Vitally needed: the egg tooth, a sharp projection on the chicks’ beak – specially designed to break through the eggshell – which falls off after hatching. The little birds free themselves by pecking, pushing, squirming, and twisting. 

We are curious to see when the last young one will free itself from the shell. Over the next few weeks, the female will keep the flimsy-covered chicks warm and cozy while the male is responsible for the feeding service. Lots to do for the new parents – take a look!


May 17, 2024

In honor of the wild bees

We cannot do without bees: With their busy pollination, the tiny insects perform indispensable work. Apart from the biodiversity on our planet, we owe them a large part of our food. What many people do not know: Wild bees – including bumblebees, solitary bees, and others – are essential for this food security. Many plant species can only be pollinated by certain wild bees, such as tomatoes.

In our BioDiversum, we want to support wild bees because they do not have an easy life: food competition with honey bees, disappearing habitats due to sealed surfaces and missing deadwood, agricultural monocultures, and pesticides give them a hard time. Therefore, we provide open ground and deadwood for nesting, wildflowers for a strengthening meal, and a pesticide-free habitat.

According to our regular wild bee monitoring, the support has paid off since the project started: From 68 wild bee species in 2019, the species richness at our institute grew to 111 species by 2023 – an increase of 43 species! This result means that 30% of the wild bee species native to Lower Saxony live on our Fassberg Campus, including extremely rare representatives such as the wood-carving leafcutter bee (Megachile ligniseca).

May 20th is World Bee Day and a great occasion to draw attention to the importance of all wild bees. Our new bee signs – who is buzzing where – will hopefully make a small contribution. Here is to the wild bees!


April 22, 2024

The early bird catches the worm: Bird tour through the BioDiversum

Last Monday, on April 15 – before the day had even really begun – fifteen bird lovers from our institute gathered behind the canteen at the Fassberg. They wanted to explore the BioDiversum in a slightly different way: listening and with 10-fold magnification.

Equipped with binoculars and under the expert guidance of our hobby ornithologist Christian Dienemann from the Department of Molecular Biology, we set off on a bird tour through our biotope, unimpressed by the changeable weather. With lots of exciting stories and background information, two hours flew by.

A particular highlight was the large bird feeding station, a real bird magnet, where we could observe various species of tits, nuthatches, robins, and even the shy jay having breakfast. The endangered starlings were also real stars with their imitation skills: One of the blackbird-sized, shiny metallic birds skillfully imitated a red kite. We had to take a closer look several times to believe our ears.

A big thank you to Christian for this great tour! It will not be the last – to another morning with feathers and binoculars.


April 17, 2024

“Falcon Big Brother” – Our kestrel box gets a camera

The kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) is among the absolute favorite inhabitants of the BioDiversum, at least for the biotope team. In the last three years, kestrel pairs have raised several young in the nesting box at tower 6 successfully twice.

But what does such a breeding process look like? Now you can find out: We have a new kestrel box with an integrated camera! The newly installed box – built by our in-house Carpentry and equipped with technology from the IT and Electronics Service – will now provide more detailed insights into the secret lives of our feathered friends via livestream.

The camera has already proved its worth in the test phase: We watched with great excitement as a pair of falcons moved into the nesting box. Two days ago, the first egg was laid! Now it is your turn to follow the life of our kestrel family – take a look!


March 21, 2024

Slippery rendevous

Numerous toads (Bufo bufo) are currently bustling around our pond in the BioDiversum. The reason: It is mating season!

Despite the demanding migration, it is time for the amphibians to hang on rather than rest. Several suitors surround the larger female, but only the strongest succeeds in clasping her tightly and mating with her. This also leads to confusion from time to time: In their hormonal frenzy, males sometimes clutch conspecifics of their own sex.

Vast quantities of egg strings – as long as two to five meters – already run like black pearls through our biotope pond. Over the next few days, the thousands of eggs – 3,000 to 8,000 per female – will hopefully hatch into many healthy tadpoles, which will be able to leave our pond as tiny toads in July. We are excited!

By the way, the common toad is a “specially protected” species under the Federal Nature Conservation Act. This means that it may not be caught, injured, or killed. To scare off predators, the toad produces a poisonous skin secretion. Even the dainty tadpoles have this poisonous protective shield. We keep our fingers crossed that this can shelter them from hungry mouths.

The Toad’s Tale


March 01, 2024

Oops, who is sleeping there?

Spring cleaning is not just for our four walls but also for the many nesting boxes at the BioDiversum. When nature wakes up from winter sleep, we get active: We clean the “homes” of our bird families and get them ready for the new breeding season.

But guess who we woke up: an indignant mouse! The wood mouse (Apodemus sp.) had made itself at home in one of our nesting boxes and was not happy when we disturbed its beauty sleep. Of course, we left it sleep in peace. Nevertheless, we could not let the cute video recording pass us by, so take a look – but shhhh...

By the way, mice normally do not hibernate. They go dormant at low temperatures to save energy but are otherwise active all year round. Wood mice are also only active at night. Therefore, they are particularly grateful for a warm, cozy place to nap during the day – like our nesting boxes.
 

February 12, 2024

More than just a box full of seeds

As the temperatures drop and the days get shorter, many of us think about how we can help wild birds through the cold season – with a bird feeder. We at the BioDiversum also provide our birds with valuable treats (not only in winter).

But a bird feeder in winter is more than just a food source: According to a new study from the Swedish University of Lund, winter feeding also positively affects birds’ health. With more reserves available, birds do not need to lower their body temperature as much at night to save energy, which is especially helpful in the case of feverish infections. The bottom line is that birds with access to feeders use less energy to fight an infection.

The study results encourage us to continue feeding the birds in the BioDiversum all year round. We believe it is an important contribution to the well-being of our little feathered friends in a changing environment.

Want to know how the Swedish researchers found all this out? Read the original publication here.


January 02, 2024

Playfully through the biotope

Our trainees have contributed two interactive information boards to the round tour of the BioDiversum. As part of the “Azubiprojekt” (apprentice project), they designed and built a quiz board and a board with a wildlife memory.

We are very happy about the new boards and would like to thank all trainees for their commitment!

 


 

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