Ecosystem Challenges



Convener: Arnon Karnieli, BGU


Environmental problems of drylands such as desertification processes, land degradation and rehabilitation, land cover and land use change, climatic change, droughts, early warning, and more, are characterized by both spatial and temporal dimensions. Therefore, remote sensing techniques, based on long-term monitoring and repetitive data, over vast expanses of unsettled regions, are applicative and powerful tools for research and implementation in these areas.

Special sessions on REMOTE SENSING - TOOLS AND IMPLICATIONS IN DRYLAND will take place as part of the conference to promote scientific exchange between experts who work on remote sensing and geoinformation issues of the above drylands-related aspects with special intention to restoration actions and processes.



Convener: Oded Berger-Tal, BIDR


Human-Induced Rapid Environmental Changes (HIREC) such as climate change and desertification, are expected to elicit a strong behavioral response in animals experiencing this change. For example, some animals may choose to move away from the disturbed area into a more suitable environment, others may choose to alter their activity times, or change their behavior (assuming they have the capacity to do so) in a way that will maximize fitness under the new conditions. Such large-scale responses can cascade through the entire food- web and alter the dynamics of an entire community or ecosystem. Moreover, because in many cases the changes caused by climate change and desertification at the habitat scale are novel and rapid in evolutionary terms and were not previously experienced by the animal, animals may either: fail to recognize the change, fail to respond, respond inappropriately, or respond in a manner that initially or seemingly is beneficial but might have long-term negative consequences. In this session we will explore behavioral and physiological responses of wildlife to climate change and desertification, discuss the consequences of these responses on the community and ecosystem scales, and discuss possible solutions.



Convener: Tamir Klein, Weizmann Institute of Science


Our current understanding of dryland forests and their contribution to the climate system is very much shaped by the groundbreaking research coming out of the Yatir research station, in central Israel. The first flux tower in a dryland forest was established in 2000 by Prof. Dan Yakir of the Weizmann Institute of Science. Dan realized the large knowledge gaps existing in biogeochemistry and ecology in arid and semi-arid regions, and the research bias towards temperate ecosystems, in Europe and North America. In 20 years of laborious research, studies at the Yatir pine forest revolutionized almost everything we know about dryland ecosystems. For example, we learnt about the large potential in carbon sequestration in the semi-arid zone; about the albedo-related warming effect and the tradeoff with the long-term cooling potential; and the role of soil in buffering periods of drought that put the trees at risk. The session will highlight some of these discoveries, while bringing topics of current discussions and open questions.





1) Nitzan Segev, Dead Sea and Arava Science Center

2) Prof. Ofer Dahan, BIDR, Ben Gurion University

3) Prof. Carmi Korine, BIDR, Ben Gurion University

4) Prof. Amos Bouskila, Ben Gurion University

5) Dr. Natalie De Falco, Ben Gurion University

6) Dr. Timea Ignat, Ben Gurion University

7) Dr. Rael Horwitz ,Monitoring Programs Coordinator Hamaarag