While vertebrates can cause considerable damage to crops, they are also being affected in their way of life by cultivation farming. The vertebrate research group at our Institute focuses on the ecology, distribution, functional relevance, protection and management of vertebrates in the field of plant protection. Important goals are the development of resilient and sustainable methods for the protection of cultivated plants and the protection of vertebrates from unwanted effects of plant protection products in horticulture, agriculture and forestry.
In order to reduce vertebrate damage during cultivation and in storage facilities, the scientists and technical staff of our Institute are looking for environmentally compatible management strategies. To this end, the research focuses on biological, mechanical and chemical measures while considering environmental fluctuations, e.g. due to climate changes and land use, in order to find ecologically and economically suitable alternatives to the use of chemical-synthetic pesticides, such as deterrents against feeding damage by birds.
Studies on the biology and ecology, e.g. on the migration and feeding behavior of vertebrates relevant to plant protection, are difficult and costly. Therefore, we are developing procedures for scientific studies which are viable and implementable as standard procedures. In terms of animal protection, this includes working and acting according to the 3Rs: Replace - Refine - Reduce.
To prevent undesirable effects of plant protection agents on vertebrates, the scientists are investigating risks that pesticides may post to birds and amphibians as non-target vertebrates. This includes studies on exposure to plant protecting agents and pesticide residues, among others. The goal is to achieve ecologically sustainable and economically viable regulations and alternatives to chemical-synthetic pesticides.
The Institute's legally assigned tasks include participation in the national approval procedure for plant protection products and in active ingredient testing for the EU. The efficacy, dosage, limit concentrations, benefits and modes of action for rodenticides and repellents are evaluated for cultivated plants within the area of responsibility. The result of this evaluation is incorporated into the approval procedure for plant protection products in the form of a statement of agreement.
An important focus of the research area is the ecology, distribution, dispersal and management of commensal rodents with genetically caused resistance and related environmental risks. Effective and environmentally responsible alternatives to persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic anticoagulant agents are developed and evaluated in close cooperation with farmers.