C. Ecology of Drylands

C.1. Ecological and Evolutionary Aspects of
        Plant Morphogenesis
(2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introduction to Ecology; Introduction to Botany.

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

The course deals with plant morphogenetic controls and their ecological and evolutionary implications. The underlying assumption is that plants integrate environmental conditions and internal correlative controls in order to develop adaptively. The course will touch on some interdisciplinary aspects of environmental and internal signaling, information perception and processing, developmental 'decision making' and adaptive architectural dynamics of plants. Some meetings will be held as seminars in which students present specific scientific papers for general discussion.

Lecturer: A. Novoplansky

Recommended Reading:
Givnish, T.J. (1986). On the Economy of Plant Form and Function. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Sachs, T. (1990). Pattern Formation in Plant Tissues. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

C.2. The Relationship among Heterogeneity Resources,
        Biodiversity and Bioproductivity in Dry Lands

        (Course No. 205-13161)* (3 1/2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     3

This course focuses on the relationship between water resources, soil flow and nutrient flux in arid and semi arid areas. The aim is to relate resource fluctuations to the patchiness of the landscape and to integrate resources, patchiness, biodiversity and bioproductivity.

Specific subjects:

  • Water, soil and nutrient flows in various scales in time and space.
  • Physical and biological patch formation in drylands and its effect on species diversity in various scales of the landscape unit.
  • The role of biological interactions in controlling biodiversity and bioproductivity in dry lands.
Lecturer: M. Shachak

Recommended Reading:
Hoerstra and Shachak (eds) (1996). Arid Lands Management: Towards Ecological Sustainability.
Pickett, Ostfeld, Shachak and Likens (1996). The Ecological Basis of Conservation: Heterogeneity and Biodiversity.

C.3. Insect Plant Interactions in Desert Ecosystems (3 1/2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     3

This course concentrates on the dynamics of insect-plant interactions in the desert using local organisms to demonstrate the special dynamics that result from the organismsÕ life cycles and the year-to-year high variations in plant primary production.

Insects are important herbivores, major seed predators and pollinators in desert plant communities. The effect of insects as herbivores in deserts is limited by their uni-voltine life cycle; this prevents both herbivores and pollinators from causing large fluctuations in plant productivity between years with high variations in desert precipitation. As a result, a one year time lag is introduced into the insect-plant interactions; both herbivores and pollinators may be super-abundant in years with low precipitation when annuals and flowers are scarce, and scarce when annuals are super-abundant in years of high precipitation. Seed-eating ants are effective in most years, as their ability to store seeds enables them to be less sensitive to the between-year variations in plant productivity.

Lecturer: Y. Ayal

Recommended Reading:
Ayal, Y. (1994). Time-lags in Insect Response to Plant Productivity: Significance for Plantinsect Interactions in Deserts. Ecological Entomology 19:207-214.
Polis, G.A (Ed) (1991). The Ecology of Desert Organisms. Univ. of Arizona Press, Tucson.

C.4. Strategies, Structure and Function in Seed Dispersal
        and Germination of Annual Plants in Deserts

        (3 1/2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introduction to Botany; Introduction to Ecology; Plant Physiology.

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2   2 1

Are there unique anatomical structures, mechanisms and strategies in annual desert plants that do not exist in other annual plants? Or are there just small changes in strategies, anatomical structure or phenology which enable desert annual plants to survive in extreme conditions?

The main subjects to be studied are:

  • Plant phenology and time of flowering affected by environmental conditions depending upon whether seedlings emerge after an early or late rain.
  • Influences during seed maturation affecting seed germinability.
  • Escape or protection dispersal strategies and cautious or opportunistic germination strategies.

Lecturer: Y. Gutterman

Recommended Reading:
Evenari, M., L. Shanan and N. Tadmor (1982). The Negev: The Challenge of a Desert. 2nd ed. Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass.
Gutterman, Y. (1993). Seed Germination in Desert Plants. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg New York.
Gutterman, Y. (1994). Strategies of Seed Dispersal and Germination in Plants Inhabiting Deserts. Botanical Review 60, 373-425.
Halevy, A.H. (1989). Handbook of Flowering, Vol. VI. CRC, Boca Raton, Florida.

C.5. The Ecology of Global Change (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introductory Ecology; Proficiency in community and ecosystems ecology.

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

Global change is the change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere due to the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases,Ó mainly carbon dioxide. This course covers the ecological effects of global change on: (a) carbon-dioxide enrichment, (b) warming, (c) increases and decreases in precipitation, and (d) increases in frequency of climatic disturbances. The ecological responses will be discussed at the level of (a) trophic groups (effects on plant, herbivores, decomposers); (b) major biomes (oceans, lakes, forests, drylands); and (c) ecological organization (individuals, populations, communities, ecosystems and landscapes.) The interactions and feedback between global change and desertification will be emphasized, and the economic and social implications of the ecological effects will be evaluated.

Lecturer: U. Safriel

Recommended Reading:
Bazzaz, F.A. (1990). The Response of Natural Ecosystems to the Rising Global CO2 Levels. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 21,167-196.
Houghton, J.T., G.J. Jenkins and J.J. Ephraums (1991). Climate Change. The IPCC Scientific Assessment. University of Cambridge Press, Cambridge.
Peters, R.L. and T.E. Lovejoy (1992). Global Warming and Biological Diversity. Yale University Press, New Haven.
Safriel, U.N., S. Volis and S. Kark (1994). Core and Peripheral Populations and Global Climate Change. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 42,331-345.

C.6. Physiological Ecology (Course No. 205-13011)* (2 credits)

Prerequisites: 1) Introductory Ecology; 2) Animal Physiology

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course is concerned with the physiological functioning of organisms in relation to their environments and how it affects the ecology of different species. Topics will cover the energy relations between animals and their abiotic environment and adaptations to the stresses of temperature, altitude, depth, salinity, etc. The course will include discussion of research techniques and data analysis. Each student will prepare a research proposal.

Lecturer: B. Pinshow

Recommended Reading:
Schmidt-Nielsen,K. (1997). Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment. Cambridge University Press, 5th Edition.
Selected readings to be provided during the course.

C.7. Community Ecology (Course No. 205-13061)* (2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 1    

This course covers a number of subjects in community ecology such as competition theory; limiting similarity; the regression method for estimating competition; the theory of density-dependent habitat selection (one species); the theory of density dependent habitat selection (two species); use of the density dependent habitat selection theory to estimate competition; the theory of density dependent habitat selection to estimate victim isocline; use of the theory of density dependent habitat selection to estimate competition between roots; the matching role; the relationship between distribution and abundance of species; relative abunof species in a community; the relationship between body size and number of species; their abundance and geographic range; asrules; nonequilibrium models.

Lecturer: Z. Abramsky

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.

C.8. Evolutionary Ecology (Course No. 205-13081)* (2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course approaches evolutionary ecology from the perspective of optimization research starting with the philosophical basis for this approach. It will go on to discuss population genetic models of natural selection, optimal foraging theory, evolutionary stable strategies (ESS), mechanisms of coexistence of optimal foragers, and ESS limits to species diversity. Students will be required to complete two problem sets and to write two critiques.

Lecturer: B. Kotler

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.

C.9. Reptile Ecology (Course No. 205-12551)* (2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course concentrates on the way ecological studies are performed practically, through examples of studies of reptile ecology. The abundance of ecological studies that focus on lizards as a model organism is due to the high density of lizards, their interactions with their environments and the ease with which they can be studied. Some of these studies (e.g., works by Huey, Pianka, Stamps and Schoener) have important implications in the field of ecology in general, beyond their importance in reptile ecology. The course will emphasize studies conducted in desert areas.

Lecturer: A. Bouskila

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.

C.10. Plant Ecology (Course No. 205-13801)* (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introductory Ecology 205-1311

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course focuses on diversity and productivity of plant communities in space and time ¾ from ecological causes and solutions to desertification:

  • Geographical and local gradients and productivity; environmental factors affecting productivity from the single plant to the entire landscape.
  • Spatial patterns, gradients and heterogeneity affecting diversity in plant communities.
  • Measurements and descriptors of diversity; species composition of plant communities as indices of diversity, similarity, classification and ordination techniques.
  • Temporal changes in plant communities: disturbance and succession.
  • Human-induced disturbance and desertification: the effects of livestock and wood gathering on diversity and productivity.
  • Restoration and ecological management: sustainable land use and ecological principles.
In addition to lectures, the course includes a field experiment, laboratory and computer work to analyze field data. Grading is based on a written report.

Lecturer: B. Boeken

Recommended Reading:
Begon, M.E, J.L. Harper and C.R. Townsend 1991. Ecology: Individuals, Populations and Communities. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Oxford.
Crawley. M.J. 1986. Plant Ecology. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Oxford.
Luken, J.O. 1990. Directing Ecological Succession. Chapman and Hall, London.
Selected papers.

C.11. Population Ecology (Course No. 205-11601)* (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introductory Ecology

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course focuses on:

  • The definition of populations as "flow of individuals," unitary and modular organisms and life cycles.
  • Organisms in their environment: conditions, resources and limiting factors.
  • Descriptions of populations: birth and death rates; life tables; population growth rates.
  • Population structure: life cycle stages; transition tables and matrices; growth rate; stage distribution; reproductive values.
  • Elasticity of growth rate, transient dynamics and variable environments.
  • Density dependence: definitions; identification; models; population regulation.
  • Density dependence: effects on individual performance and population structure.
  • Life history: linking genotype, traits and demography; phenotypic plasticity and genetic variability.
  • Growth rate of "trait groups" within populations as a measure of fitness; trait changes; trade-off; optimality.
  • Populations in space: migration, colonization and extinction; sinks and sources; metapopulations.
  • The work schedule includes a laboratory experiment on competition in annual plants (one session for setup, weekly measurements) and exercises in modeling of populations (computer class sessions).

Lecturer: B. Boeken

Recommended Reading:
Begon, M.E. and M. Mortimer (1990). Population Ecology, A Unified Study of Animals and Plants. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Oxford.
Begon, M.E, J.L. Harper and C.R. Townsend (1991). Ecology: Individuals, Populations and Communities. Blackwell Scientific Publ., Oxford.
Caswell, H. (1989). Matrix Population Models. Sinauer, Sunderland, Massachusetts.
Stearns, S.C. (1992). The Evolution of Life Histories. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford.

C.12. Biometry (Course No. 205-24261)* (2 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

This course examines statistical tools including: descriptive statistics, probability distributions, hypothesis testing, t-test, analysis of variance (one way, multifactorial and nested designs), regression, correlation, goodness-of-fit and non-parametric tests.

Basic statistical tools include appropriate experimental designs that an ecological researcher needs today. Emphasis will be placed on understanding probability and variation, how variation originates (in statistical terms) and how different sources of variation can be identified and quantified.

Lecturer: S. Mendlinger

Recommended Reading: Biometry by Sokal and Rohlf.

C.13. Behavioural Ecology (Course No. 205-13571)* (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Animal behavior

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

Topics in this course include: behavioral adaptations the comparative approach; cost-benefit and optimization approaches to behavioral ecology; habitat selection, territoriality and migration; foraging and anti-predator defenses; reproductive behavior, mating strategies and sexual selection; parent-offspring interactions, social behavior and social organization. Ultimate causes and evolution of adaptations are stressed; proximate mechanisms will be discussed. Field exercises provide experience in establishing working hypotheses and testing them, emphasizing experimental design and statistical analysis.

Lecturer: Y. Lubin

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.

C.14. The Evolution of Life History Strategies (Course No. 205-12361)* (3 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2   2  

This course covers a wide range of topics related to the evolution of life history strategies. The questions addressed are many of those most central to ecology and evolutionary biology, such as: Why do some plant populations grow faster than others? Why do some animals live so long? Why are some plants big in one habitat and small in another? Why do many plants and animals breed once and then die? Why do animals that have big babies have small litters? When habitats are variable in time and space, what is the best reproductive strategy for a tree? etc.

Four general topics and three special topics are covered:

  • Demography.
  • Quantitative genetics.
  • Evolutionary trade-offs.
  • Phylogenetic effects on life histories.
  • Reproductive life span and aging.
  • Clutch size and number.
  • Coevolution of life history strategies.

This course is illustrated with examples from desert organisms (plants and animals). The computer exercises involve analyzing published field data complementary to the lectures and cover demography, quantitative genetics, trade-offs and the comparative method.

Lecturer: D. Ward

Recommended Reading:
Stearns, S.C. (1991). The Evolution of Life Histories. Oxford University Press.
Roff, D.A. (1991). The Evolution of Life Histories. Chapman & Hall.
Endler, J.A. (1986). Natural Section in the Wild. Princeton University Press.

C.15. Ecosystem Ecology (Course No. 205-13161)* (4 credits)

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     4

This course presents a unified approach to ecology. Lectures and field trips are devoted to understanding the following concepts: a) systems, b) hierarchy, c) level of organization, d) scale e) multiflow ecological systems. These concepts will be demonstrated by constructing a conceptual model of the structure and function of a desertified area in the northern Negev. The implications of the model to ecosystem management will be discussed.

Lecturer: M. Shachak

Recommended Reading:
Allen, T.F.H. and T.W. Hoekstra. (1992). Towards a Unified Ecology. Columbia University Press, New York.
Jones, C. G. and J. H. Lawton (eds). (1995). Linking Species and Ecosystems. Chapman and Hall, New York.
Pickett, S.T.A., R.S. Ostfels, M. Shachak, and G.E. Likens. (1997). The Ecological Basis of Conservation. Chapman and Hall, New York.

C.16. Conservation Ecology (Course No. 205-13181)* (2 1/2 credits)

Prerequisites: Introductory Ecology; Proficiency in population biology

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2 1    

This course will address:

  • Questions of 'why conserve nature?' and 'what needs to be conserved?'
  • Current theory and practice in conservation biology.
  • At the population level, the major causes of population decline and factors threatening small populations: fragmentation, over-harvesting and problems associated with rarity (such as stochastic processes).
  • At the community level--assessing the impact of population decline on the community based on community structure and severity of disturbance.
  • At the ecosystem level--complexity and stability will be reviewed, and desertification, deforestation, and monoculture forestry.
  • Designing nature reserves, managing open lands, rehabilitation, restoration, and reintroduction.

Lecturer: D. Saltz

Recommended Reading:
Meffe, G. K. and C. R. Carroll. (1994). Principles of Conservation Biology. Sinauer, Sunderland, MA.
Hunter, M. L. Jr. (1995). Fundamentals of Conservation Biology. Blackwell Science, Cambridge, MA.

C.17. Animal Bioenergetics(Course No. 205-13851)* (2 credits)

Prerequisites: Animal Physiology

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip

Lectures focus on the following topics:

Lecturer: A.A. Degen

Recommended Reading: Provided during the course.

C.18. Soil Ecology (Course No. 205-15021)* (2 credits)

Prerequisite: Fundamentals of Microbiology

Lectures Exercise Laboratory Field Trip
2     2

The objective of this course is to present the fundamentals of desert soil ecology: interactions between soil, water, micro-organisms, and the interactions between plants, animals, humans, and micro-organisms.

Lecturer: E. Zaady

Recommended Reading:
Paul & Clark. (1996) Soil Microbiology & Biochemistry. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.
Metting F. B. (1992) Soil Microbial Ecology: Applications in Agricultural and Environmental Management. Marcel Dekker, Inc. New York.
Selected papers from the journals of Soil Biology & Biochemistry, Soil Research and Rehabilitation, Ecological Monograph, Applied Soil Ecology, and Plant and Soil.

* in life Science Department