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Why Israeli rodents are more cautious than Jordanian ones
Date:11/19/2009

A series of studies carried out at the University of Haifa have found that rodent, reptile and ant lion species behave differently on either side of the Israel-Jordan border. "The border line, which is only a demarcation on the map, cannot contain these species, but the line does restrict humans and their diverse impact on nature," says Dr. Uri Shanas.

Is a border line simply a virtual line appearing on the map? If so, why is it that Israeli rodents are more cautious than Jordanian rodents? Why is it that there are more ant lions in Israel than in Jordan? And how come there are more reptile species in Jordan than in Israel? A series of new studies at the University of Haifa's Department of Environmental and Evolutionary Biology and the University of Haifa-Oranim's Faculty of Sciences and Science Education are exploring the answers. "The boundary is only a virtual marking that appears on the map and is not capable of keeping these species from crossing the border between Israel and Jordan; but the line does stop humans from crossing it and thereby contains their different impact on nature," says Dr. Uri Shanas, a participant in the research.

The series of studies, which have been carried out in cooperation with Jordanian researchers, has examined a variety of reptile, mammal, beetle, spider and ant lion species on either side of the border in the Arava region. The Israeli team includes Dr. Shanas and research students Idan Shapira and Shacham Mitler, who set out to reveal whether the border - unknown to the species - could affect differences between them and their numbers on either side of the frontier, even though they share identical climate conditions.

The first study inspected the reptile population and revealed that the number of reptiles is similar on both sides, but the variety of species in the sandy areas of Jordan is significantly higher than the variety found in the sands of Israel. A second study revealed that Israeli gerbils
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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