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Foundation grant awarded to project on new animal species in Denmark

The Danish research community was taken by surprise when a DNA investigation in December 2012 showed that a dead animal found in Thy National Park was a wolf.

Wolwes in Polish sanctuary
DNA analyses show that wolves from both Germany and Poland have migrated to Denmark. Here, wolves in Rezerwat Pokazowy Zubrow, Bialowieza, Poland. Photo: Thomas Secher Jensen

The DNA investigation also showed that the wolf was listed in the German DNA database on wolves, containing information on sex, birth place and date. The wolf had moved 850 kilometres as the crow flies from the east of Germany to Thy, Denmark.

The story of the wolf is not unique. Danish nature is constantly changing. Hundreds of species have disappeared, and new species have appeared. Often they are discovered by accident – one here and one there – and before we know it they have become established members of the wild animal community. Sometimes species have been overlooked even though they have been here all the time.

So far, no information has been gathered on the changes that have occurred in our fauna. How many new species have appeared, how fast do they spread, and what is their impact on the existing fauna?

A new project supported by 15. Juni Fonden will broaden our knowledge. The grant of 2.15 mill. DKK has been awarded to Natural History Museum Aarhus and Department of Bioscience, Kalø, Aarhus University. Through this grant a way has been paved for the beginning of the establishment of a knowledge centre on new species in Denmark. To begin with, the knowledge centre will gather information on wolves and other newly immigrated animal species and arrange a conference on the topic.  

DNA database on wolves

Among other initiatives, Natural History Museum Aarhus will through its own investigations, information from the public and in collaboration with established web-based nature portals compile and examine available observations. This wealth of information – probable as well as less probable – gathered from various sources will be included in a database at the museum. Moreover, the museum will gather samples for DNA analyses to be conducted at Department of Bioscience, Kalø. 

The Department will establish a DNA database on wolves in close collaboration with international, primarily German and Polish, researchers.

Contact: Senior scientist Liselotte Wesley Andersen, tel. +45 3018 3135, lwa@dmu.dk 
              Department of Bioscience Kalø, Aarhus University

              Senior scientist Thomas Secher Jensen, tel. +45 2421 2015, tsj@nathist.dk
              Natural History Museum Aarhus

              Senior scientist Aksel Bo Madsen, tel. +45 2166 3170, abm@dmu.dk
              DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy
              Department of Bioscience - Kalø, Aarhus University