Resilience of desert societies


Co-Conveners: Noa Avriel Avni, Dead Sea and Arava Center, and Yoav Avni, Dead Sea and Arava Center. The Israel Geological Survey.

The great challenges of living in arid and hyper-arid regions around the world are permanent shortage of water, limited food resources and inherent uncertainty regarding water availability, in terms of its quantity and spatial distribution. These challenges dictate the main weaknesses of desert societies that, according to the existing paradigm, are prone to suffer from a permanent risk of collapse. However, in the Middle East deserts, human societies are known since prehistoric times traversing the entire hyper-dry Holocene. This fact suggests that the simple common paradigm ascribing high vulnerability to desert societies needs to be re-examined.

This session is dedicated to papers focused on various aspects of social – ecological resilience of desert societies from short and long-term records. We invite contributions from different disciplines: geomorphology, ecology, archeology, sociology, education and more which (i) introduce new data and techniques to quantify and compare components of socio-ecological resilience in various datasets; (ii) identify patterns (in time/ space) of drivers (biotic, abiotic, social) of stability and resilience; (iii) test key assumptions and predictions of social-ecological resilience theory.