Nature and Parks Authority

West Jerusalem, Israel

Nature and Parks Authority

West Jerusalem, Israel

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David D.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | Edri N.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | Yakobson B.A.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | Bombarov V.,Kimron Veterinary Institute | And 7 more authors.
Veterinary Journal | Year: 2011

Classical swine fever (CSF) re-emerged in Israel in February 2009 after an absence of 62. years. The outbreak occurred on a domestic pig farm in northern Israel and affected domestic pigs and wild boar. On the basis of phylogenetic analysis of a 190 base pair fragment of the E2 glycoprotein gene, the Israeli CSF virus strain belonged to genotype 2.1 and was genetically most similar to a Chinese CSF virus strain. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.


Sternberg M.,Tel Aviv University | Gabay O.,Tel Aviv University | Angel D.,Haifa University | Barneah O.,Ruppin Academic Center | And 9 more authors.
Regional Environmental Change | Year: 2015

The Mediterranean region is both a global biodiversity hot spot and one of the biomes most strongly affected by human activities. Ecologists and land managers are increasingly required to advise on threats to biodiversity under foreseeable climate change. We used expert surveys to evaluate current understanding and uncertainties regarding climate change impacts on biodiversity in terrestrial, inland freshwater, and marine ecosystems of Israel. Finally, we propose a response strategy toward minimizing these changes. The surveys and the published literature indicated that the main climate change impacts in Israel include ongoing deterioration of freshwater habitats, decline of shrubland and woodland areas, and increased frequency and severity of forest fires. For the Mediterranean Sea, the surveys predict further introduction and establishment of invasive species from the Red Sea, accelerated erosion of coastal rocky habitat, and collapse of coastal rocky platforms. In the Gulf of Aqaba, Red Sea, corals may be resilient to foreseen climate change due to their high tolerance for rising water temperatures. Despite these predictions, science-based knowledge regarding the contribution of management toward minimizing climate change impacts on biodiversity is still lacking. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation are presently the primary and immediate threats to natural ecosystems in Israel. Protection of natural ecosystems, including local refugia, must be intensified to maintain existing biodiversity under pressure from mounting urban development and climate change. This protection policy should include ecological corridors to minimize the consequences of fragmentation of existing natural habitats for species survival. A longer-term strategy should mandate connectivity across environmental and climatic gradients to maintain natural resilience by allowing reorganization of natural ecosystems facing climate change. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Geffen E.,Tel Aviv University | Kam M.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Hefner R.,Nature and Parks Authority | Hersteinsson P.,University of Iceland | And 11 more authors.
Molecular Ecology | Year: 2011

Mating with close kin can lead to inbreeding depression through the expression of recessive deleterious alleles and loss of heterozygosity. Mate selection may be affected by kin encounter rate, and inbreeding avoidance may not be uniform but associated with age and social system. Specifically, selection for kin recognition and inbreeding avoidance may be more developed in species that live in family groups or breed cooperatively. To test this hypothesis, we compared kin encounter rate and the proportion of related breeding pairs in noninbred and highly inbred canid populations. The chance of randomly encountering a full sib ranged between 1-8% and 20-22% in noninbred and inbred canid populations, respectively. We show that regardless of encounter rate, outside natal groups mates were selected independent of relatedness. Within natal groups, there was a significant avoidance of mating with a relative. Lack of discrimination against mating with close relatives outside packs suggests that the rate of inbreeding in canids is related to the proximity of close relatives, which could explain the high degree of inbreeding depression observed in some populations. The idea that kin encounter rate and social organization can explain the lack of inbreeding avoidance in some species is intriguing and may have implications for the management of populations at risk. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


Magory Cohen T.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | King R.,Nature and Parks Authority | Dolev A.,Israel Mammal Research Center | Boldo A.,Nature and Parks Authority | And 2 more authors.
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2013

The golden jackal and red fox are among the wildlife species protected by Israeli law as enforced by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. In 1964, as a part of a management program to control rabies in Israel, a poison eradication campaign was launched to exterminate golden jackals, considered to be the main reservoir of the disease. The program resulted in the near-complete extermination of jackals in Israel, while foxes were only mildly affected. Jackals have since regained their original numbers and have recolonized southern Israel. We here examined the population structure of the golden jackal and red fox in Israel, 48 years after the poison eradication campaign. DNA from 88 golden jackals and 89 red foxes representing five different geographic regions was extracted and amplified at 13 microsatellite loci in order to characterize the populations on a genetic level. High genetic diversity was found among the jackal and fox populations. A possible migration route through the Jordan Rift Valley was suggested for both species by the genetic similarity of populations in northern and southern Israel. However, in both species, the animals from the center of Israel were distinctive from those north or south, indicating the relative isolation of central populations, likely due to fragmentation or a high abundance of food resources. Genetic profiles obtained for the golden jackal and the red fox in Israel may aid in their conservation management and in the study of zoonotic diseases. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Bino G.,Hebrew University of Jerusalem | Dolev A.,Galilee Technology Center | Yosha D.,Israel Mammals Research Center | Guter A.,Israel Mammals Research Center | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Applied Ecology | Year: 2010

1. Carnivore overabundance that results from exploitation of human derived resources can have numerous detrimental effects on local human populations and ecological communities. Experimental studies on the responses of overabundant carnivores to reductions of such resources are necessary to understand the effectiveness and impacts of resource reduction. 2. We conducted controlled experiments in two villages in which we drastically reduced the availability of anthropogenic food sources in half of each village. Spatial and numerical responses of radio-collared red foxes Vulpes vulpes were recorded and contrasted with those of radio-collared foxes in three similar untreated villages and pristine areas in the region. In total, we looked at survival rates of 134 foxes. 3. Prior to the resource manipulation, home range sizes (0.47 and 0.56 km 2) and population densities (30 and 36 foxes km -2) in the two villages were comparable to documented low and high-end values, respectively. 4. Fast and distinct spatial responses were observed in response to the resource manipulation, and were manifested in either increased home range size or home range shifts. In one village, foxes exposed to reduced resource availability more than doubled their home range size. 5. Survival rates of individuals in the treated areas were drastically reduced. Actual fox mortality in the two treated areas reached 100% and 64% within 12 months of the onset of resource manipulation. Estimated monthly survival in the two treated areas declined from 0.96-0.98 and 0.98-0.99 (~0.69 and 0.78 derived annual survival) before treatment to 0.80-0.83 and 0.92-0.94 (~<0.01 and 0.42 derived annual survival) after treatment, respectively. By contrast, average monthly survivorship in pristine areas was nearly 0.97 (~0.69 annual survival) and in the untreated areas and other non-treated villages was 0.95-0.99 (~0.54-0.89 annual survival). 6. Synthesis and applications. This study demonstrates that sound waste disposal measures are very effective in controlling populations of overabundant carnivores. Contrary to common notion, the response of foxes to reduced resources was fast, manifested more by reduced survival than by successful dispersal into adjacent pristine areas. The results offer support to the Resource Dispersion Hypothesis regarding both home range size and density (suggested by the sharp decrease in survival) as a function of the spatial and temporal dispersion of resource. © 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2010 British Ecological Society.


Saltz D.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | David S.B.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Zidon R.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Dolev A.,Galilee Technology Center | And 3 more authors.
Animal Production Science | Year: 2011

The Persian fallow deer (Dama mesopotamica) reintroduction project of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority is based on a permanent breeding core (Hai-Bar Carmel) established in Israel in 1976 from 2 males and 5 females, before the formulation of the guidelines for reinstruction by the IUCN, with no strategic long-term planning, and little consideration of conservation principles and monetary consequences. By the mid 1990s the breeding core had nearly 50 adult females and it became evident that a reintroduction program should be prepared. The existence of a permanent breeding core offered flexibility in protocol and the possibility of a long-term approach based on multiple releases. Using a maximum sustained yield approach, IUCN criteria, and simulations of population performance we formulated a release strategy and a time frame for the project, based on repeated releases carried out sequentially in three reserves in northern Israel with good corridors connecting them. The project began with releases in the Kziv reserve with continuous post-release monitoring and an adaptive management approach. Reproductive success was dampened during the initial years after release, but increased to expected levels thereafter. Survival was higher than expected. Animals from later releases used formerly released animals as cue and established a home range faster. Annual home-range dynamics and social structure were comparable to other similar deer species. The deer transported viable seeds of many species by ingestion (endozoochory) and thinned the forest canopy allowing for better understory growth. Simulations based on empirical data indicated that pre-project demographic simulation offered reliable projections. A growth model incorporating the empirical data on dynamics, habitat preferences, and social structure during the first 2.5 years enabled the construction of a spatially realistic individual-based population model that reliably projected the numerical and spatial growth of the population over a 5-year period. This model was then used to assess future risks due to human sprawl. Due to agricultural damage, the project was forced in 2003 to select a new less favourable site in the Judean hills (central Israel) with no habitat linkage to the former location. Release in this area was based on individuals from the Hai Bar Carmel and from a second breeding core established in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. The less favourable site and behavioural problems of the zoo animals hampered the success of the reintroduction. In 2010 the northern region of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority approved a second release site in the Galilee. Using the spatially realistic model described above we reassessed the multiple-site approach, considering options of releases in 110 sites carried out in parallel or sequentially. These simulations indicated that the best results, in terms of numerical growth and spatial expansion, would be obtained by repeated releases in two sites carried out sequentially. Computer simulations combined with a permanent breeding core enabled robust planning and an adaptive management approach. Post-release monitoring provided important data for assessing reintroduction procedures and for future management of the species. This reintroduction has greatly enhanced the survival prospects of the Persian fallow deer, and their reintroduction has reestablished important ecosystem processes. © 2011 CSIRO.


Kapota D.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Dolev A.,Nature and Parks Authority | Bino G.,University of New South Wales | Yosha D.,Society for Protection of the Nature | And 3 more authors.
Scientific Reports | Year: 2016

Animals disperse in response to poor resource conditions as a strategy of escaping harsh competition and stress, but may also disperse under good resource conditions, as these provide better chances of surviving dispersal and gaining fitness benefits such as avoiding kin competition and inbreeding. Individual traits should mediate the effect of resources, yielding a complex condition-dependent dispersal response. We investigated how experimental food reductions in a food-rich environment around poultry-growing villages interact with individual-traits (age, gender, body-mass) in two sympatric canids, red foxes and golden jackals, to jointly affect emigration propensity and survival during dispersal. Sub-adult foxes emigrated more frequently from the food-rich habitat than from the pristine, food-limited habitat, while adult foxes showed the opposite trend. During dispersal, adults exhibited lower survival while sub-adults did not experience additional mortality costs. Although fox mortality rates increased in response to food reduction, dispersal remained unchanged, while jackals showed strong dispersal response in two of the three repetitions. Jackal survival under food reduction was lowest for the dispersing individuals. While resources are an important dispersal determinant, different age classes and species experience the same resource environment differently and consequently have different motivations, yielding different dispersal responses and consequences.


Yom-Tov Y.,Tel Aviv University | Leader N.,Nature and Parks Authority | Yom-Tov S.,Tel Aviv University | Baagoe H.J.,Copenhagen University
Mammalian Biology | Year: 2010

We studied a sample of 131 skulls of the stone marten Martes foina that were collected in Denmark between 1858 and 1999. Data were available for 37 years, but collection effort was not uniform throughout the study period and annual sample size varied between 1 and 27. We used principal component analysis (PCA) to combine the information of four skull measurements into a single variable (PC1). PC1 was then corrected for factors that significantly affected it (sex and longitude), and residual PC1 was used for further analysis in which we calculated trends in PC1 values during the study period. During the study period there was an increase in mean annual temperature in Denmark, but this increase was not continuous, as there was slight decrease in temperature between 1947 and 1965. We found that skull size (and by implication body size) of the stone marten in Denmark had two periods of decrease and these two periods coincide with the periods of increase in mean annual temperature. These results may indicate that body size of the stone marten is sensitive to the change in ambient temperature, either due to a change in food availability that was caused by the increase in temperature, or decreased its size in accordance with Bergmann's rule. © 2008 Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde.


Rotem G.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Berger H.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | King R.,Nature and Parks Authority | Bar P.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2011

We studied the influence of agricultural villages on space-use patterns of golden jackals (Canis aureus Linnaeus) in the Mediterranean region of Israel. Villages in our research area attract jackals due to poor sanitation conditions in and around villages. As resources in these villages are abundant and predictable, we expected that space-use patterns of jackals near those villages, including home-range characteristics and movement paths, would differ from those of jackals inhabiting more natural areas. Using radio-locations from 16 individuals (8 near villages and 8 from more natural areas), we found that mean home-range size of jackals close to villages was 6.6 ± 4.5 km 2, smaller than mean home-range size of jackals in more natural areas (21.2 ± 9.3 km2, P = 0.001). Similarly, core area size of jackals near villages was 1.2 ± 0.92 km2, compared to 3.5 ± 1.6 km2 for individuals inhabiting more natural areas (P = 0.004). The core area/home-range ratio was greater for jackals near villages than for those occupying more natural areas (0.122 ± 0.045 vs. 0.095 ± 0.037, respectively, P = 0.004). Jackals moved little during the day, with day ranges smaller for jackals near villages than away from them (1.65 ± 0.67 vs. 7.5 ± 5.6 km2, respectively, P = 0.028). However, jackals near villages moved as much at night as did jackals in more natural areas, although movement was in a less directional manner. Changes in distribution and predictability of resources due to anthropogenic activity affect not only the home-range size of jackals, but also how they utilize and move through space. Copyright © 2011 The Wildlife Society.


Known for his sweeping reforms and dedication to eradicating the pagan idolatry that had grown rampant during his father's reign, the methods employed by King Hezekiah, who ruled over the Kingdom of Judah from approximately 727–698 BCE, have been well-documented in the Book of Kings ("He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles…"), but this is the first time that evidence has emerged to support biblical assertions of his hardline stance against religious cults. This comes as a result of archaeological excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority that uncovered the largest shrine in a city gate from the First Temple period at at the historical Tel Lachisch site earlier this year. Measuring approximately 80 x 80 ft (24 x 24 m), the six-chambered gate is consistent with the historical and archaeological knowledge that positions Lachisch as the second-most important city in the Judahite kingdom after Jerusalem during the 8th century BC. During its heyday, it served as a bureaucratic center, courthouse and meeting place for the city's ruling elite. "The city elders, judges, governors, kings and officials – everyone would sit on benches in the city gate," says Israeli excavation director Sa'ar Ganor. Indeed, said benches were found during the excavation, as well as other such artifacts as jars, grain scoops and jar handles bearing an official's name or a royal insignia. Apart from being the nerve center of the city's bureaucratic system, the site also housed a gate shrine, which was accessible via "steps … in the form of a staircase [that] ascended to a large room where there was a bench upon which offerings were placed." While finding religious artifacts such as altars and ceremonial artifacts is par for the course at such sites, what has gotten archaeologists buzzing is something far more incongruous: "A stone fashioned in the shape of a chair with a hole in its center." In other words, a toilet. Installing such an object in the Holy of Holies, a sacred inner sanctum in the shrine accessible only to a High Priest, would have been considered "the ultimate desecration" of a holy space, which was most likely what Hezekiah in mind. A purely symbolic act – lab tests have confirmed that the commode was never used – it was meant to show pagan worshippers that he meant business when he declared he was getting rid of religious cults. While such practices, most notably King Jehu's destruction of temples dedicated to the pagan god Baal, have been documented in the Bible, this is the first time that archaeological evidence has confirmed it. Other findings that corroborate the desecration theory include two altars with four-horned corners that had been "intentionally truncated," says Ganor. After the toilet was installed, the Holy of Holies was sealed until the site was destroyed by the Assyrian army in 701 BC. During the excavation, archaeologists also discovered such weaponry relics as slingshots and arrowheads, indicative of the hand-to-hand combat that took place at the gates. While the gate is currently closed to the public for conservation purposes, plans for a new visitor center at Tel Lachisch are in the pipeline. Among the artifacts that visitors will be able to see when it opens are the relief found in the king's private chambers as well as an altar from Hezekiah's reign, says Shaul Goldstein of Israel's Nature and Parks Authority.

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