Mag. Lukas Landler, Ph.D.

Institute of Zoology
University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33
1180 Vienna
Austria

Phone: +43 1 47654 - 83334
Fax: +43 1 47654 - 83309
E-mail: lukas.landler(at)boku.ac.at

Room: MENH-EG/06

Business card
Research

Research interests

Since the start of my academic life, I have been fascinated by animals’ orientation and migration abilities. Of particular interest for me is the ability of animals to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. This resulted in several lines of research that I pursued over the years (see links under publications). For my newly established research group at the BOKU, I set out to study the interplay between amphibian conservation management in an urban environment and migration and orientation. In order to pursue this goal, I am working with the green toad (Bufotes virdis) in Vienna and surrounding areas, using mark-recapture as well as cutting-edge tracking technology in the field complimented by laboratory experiments. My research is supporting the conservation of this endangered species and provides crucial insights in the baffling migratory abilities of amphibians.

Research group

As I just started, this section looks rather empty. However, I am always looking for motivated students to join the group! Interested? Just shoot me an email.

Stephan Burgstaller received his Master's degree in zoology from the University of Vienna, where he studied population dynamics of fire salamanders. He is currently pursuing his doctorate at BOKU, where he is investigating the interactions between habitat characteristics, physiology and population dynamics of green toads. Since 2017 he has been working as a lecturer at the University of Vienna, where he obtained valuable data on an inner-city population of green toads (Rudolf Bednar Park, Leopoldstadt). Although this green toad population seems to be stable for years, first results suggest a dangerously high mortality rate. His doctoral thesis will provide basic knowledge on the impact of human influence on amphibian populations, as well as instructions for applied conservation of the green toad in urban habitats. In addition, he is working as a freelancer for amphibian monitoring.

András Horváth received his bachelor’s degree at the BOKU in 2019 with work on the role of natural rivers for humans. He then started a masters to study landscape architecture with a specialization in aquatic ecosystems.  For his master thesis he is performing a capture-recapture study on one of the largest green toad populations in Vienna (Simmeringer Haide), which our group has started working on in 2020. He will now compare the population sizes of and connectivity between two nearby breeding habitats, which constitute two types of human-made ponds (temporary and permanent). It will not only allow us to calculate demographic parameters for these endangered toads, but also help us to understand habitat use and dynamics, which are important information to plan protection measures.

Yurii Kornilev received his Master’s degree in Interdisciplinary Ecology with a concentration on Wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida, USA, where he studied the ecology of a riverine turtle and the impacts of human disturbance. He is finishing his PhD at the National Museum of Natural History, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, focusing on the distribution and ecology of the two water snakes in Bulgaria, which are widespread but largely understudied there. For the past 20 years, he has been involved in a number of research and conservation projects on the reptiles and amphibians in Bulgaria, Austria, and USA. At the BOKU, he is preparing a meta-analysis on the published effects of pulsed electromagnetic fields on vertebrate cells grown in vitro, where research so far has produced mixed results, but might have real-life implications for human health as well as animal biology.

Magdalena Spießberger received her Master's degree in Behavior-, Neurobiology and Cognition from the University of Vienna in 2019. For her master’s thesis she studied the effect of early life conditions on telomere length in wild boar piglets (Sus scrofa) at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology. Telomeres are the end-caps of chromosomes, playing an important role in the aging process and are seen as a biomarker for over-all body condition. Afterwards, she started to work on a project investigating the magnetic sense of mice at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology. While still working on this project, she started to participate in the research on the effects of anthropogenic disturbance on the population and behavioral ecology of the green toad. Her main interests are, besides the effects on the behavior and cognition of the green toad, if anthropogenically caused environment stressors negatively affect the telomere length of these animals.

Publications

A complete list of my publications can be found here. Alternatively, visit my google scholar or research gate site.

Research projects

Please see here my (almost) complete list of research projects I am involved in. For a short selection of current projects see below.

green toad © Lukas Fuxjäger

Population ecology and migration dynamics along a gradient of anthropogenic disturbance

While the primary habitats of the green toads (Bufotes virdis) are becoming increasingly scarce, this steppe species managed to establish populations in anthropogenically altered environments, such urban and agricultural areas. However, also their secondary habitats are prone to destruction due to construction activities and building development. Such developments are likely to further isolate potential habitats of the green toad and decrease connectivity. In addition, established ponds are often not suitable for spawning, because of their late succession states. In order to plan conservation efforts and manage existing populations, we need to understand the distribution, population- and migration dynamics of the green toad. For this we will use ‘traditional’ population ecology methodologies, such as mark-recapture as well as cutting-edge animal tracking technologies. Such field studies along a urban-rural gradient will be complemented by laboratory behavioral experiments.

The dorsal pattern of the green toad: color change, hormones and environmental influence

This effort is spearheaded by Stephan Burgstaller and aims to understand why and under which circumstances green toads can change their dorsal pattern coloration. Such changes have been described in early laboratory work and may have led to the German name of this animal (the “changing toad”). We will explore which hormones are underlying such ability and what can cause coloration changes in the natural habitats, using a combination of field and laboratory studies.