A. Introductory Courses

A.1  Water, Energy and Life in the Dryland Environment (4 credits)  
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters)     2

This required course introduces the desert in a multi-disciplinary approach, covering the environment in physical, chemical, biological and ecological terms. Topics covered include: 

  • The desert environment in climatological terms. 
  • The ecology of desert sand dunes. 
  • Energy flow in desert environments. 
  • Energy and productivity in desert environments. 
  • Water resources in desert environments (availability and distribution). 
  • Adaptation of biological systems to desert environments. 
  • Desert development, impact of settlements, approaches and policy. 
Lecturers: Members of the BIDR and other members of BGU - coordinated by A. Vonshak. 

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course. 


A.2  Crop Production Under Dryland Conditions (4 credits)  
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters)     2

This is an introductory course for students specializing in fields other than plant biology. It presents principles of crop production in the desert. 

  • The role of environmental factors (light, drought, salinity, temperature) in plant growth and production. 
  • Efficient use of water in plant production (protected agriculture, irrigation systems, use of brackish water). 
  • Metabolic limitations under desert conditions (nutrition, carbon and nitrogen cycles). 
  • Application of modern methodologies to improve desert plant and crop productivity. 
Lecturers: Members of the Center for Desert Agrobiology - coordinated by Y. Heimer.  

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course. 


A.3  Introduction to Dryland Ecology (4 credits)  
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters) 1    

This course is geared to students specializing in fields other than ecology. It introduces basic concepts, theories, and examples of modern ecology with particular emphasis on desert systems. Main subjects include: 

  • Introduction: the desert environment and the challenges it presents to its resident organisms; strategies of plants versus animals; hierarchies of organization and the functioning of living systems; survival and adaptation. 
  • Populations: basic theory and demography. 
  • Evolution (basic concepts and processes): natural selection, fitness, mutation, genetic drift, selection and the general principles of evolutionary stable strategies. 
  • Population interactions: introduction to competition, predator-prey interactions, herbivory, mutualism and co-evolution. 
  • Communities: The niche (classical and modern concepts), competition, coexistence, species diversity and disturbance. 
  • Ecosystems: energy flows, food chains, succession, nutrient cycles. 
  • The human dimension: deforestation; desertification, conservation, global changes. 
Lecturers: Members of the Mitrani Center for Desert Ecology - coordinated by B. Krasnov.  

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course. 


A.4  Environmental Physics in Drylands (4 credits)  

Prerequisites: B.Sc. in one of the quantitative, natural or engineering sciences. 
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters)      

This course is aimed at providing students from non-mathematical/non-physics backgrounds with basic concepts in environmental physics as applied to desert research. It focuses on the radiation environment; micro-climatology; heat and mass transfer in the environment and in living organisms; the desert atmosphere; dynamics of airborne dust in arid environments; remote sensing in desert research; crop micro-meteorology ; random walk and diffusion in biological systems; chaotic phenomena in the environment; and basics of solar energy utilization. 

Lecturers: Members of the Department for Energy & Environmental Physics coordinated by Y. Zarmi

Recommended Reading: 
Monteith, J.L. and M.H. Unsworth (1990). Principles of Environmental Physics, 2nd Ed., E. Arnold, London. 
Berg, H.C. (1983). Random Walks in Biology, Princeton University Press. 
Kahn, P.B. (1990). Mathematical Methods for Scientists and Engineers: Linear and Non-linear Systems. Wiley & Sons, New York. 
Abarbanel, H.D.I., M.I. Rabinovich and M.M. Sushchick (1993). Introduction to Nonlinear Dynamics for Physicists. World Scientific, Singapore.
Holton, J. (1980). Introduction to Dynamic Meteorology. 


A.5  Water Resources and Management in Drylands (4 credits)  
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters)     3

The purpose of the course is to provide the participants with a general background in water issues in arid regions. The two semester course includes individual assignments and seminars. Lectures cover: the water cycle in nature; climate changes and water balance; water quality criteria; runoff water and use possibilities; saline water sources and utilization; wastewater (principles of treatment and reclamation); water flow in saturated a nd unsaturated zones; principles of water pumping and conductance; principles of water resources and management modeling. 

Lecturers: Members of the Water Resources Research Center - coordinated by G. Oron. 

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course. 


A.6  The Human Dimension: Living in Drylands (4 credits)  
 
Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 (2 semesters)     2

This is a general course for students specializing in fields other than those dealing with human habitation of the desert. 

Main subjects include: 

  • Desert settlements - historic overview. 
  • Desert climate and human thermal comfort. 
  • Building for thermal comfort. 
  • Urban micro-climate in desert communities. 
  • Regional planning and resource management in the desert. 
  • Social and cultural aspects of desert communities. 
Lecturers: Members of the Center for Man in the Desert - Coordinated by Y. Etzion.  

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.