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.
According to the researchers, the differences between Israel and Jordan are primarily in the higher level of agriculture and the higher number of agricultural farms in Israel as opposed to Jordan's agriculture that is primarily based on nomadic shepherding and traditional farming. The agricultural fields on the Israeli side of the border not only create a gulf between habitats and thereby cause an increase in the number of species in the region, but they also hail one of the most problematic of intruders in the world: the red fox. On the Jordanian side, the red fox is far less common, so that Jordanian gerbils can allow themselves to be more carefree. The higher reproduction rate of ant lions on Israel's side is also related to the presence of another animal: the Dorcas gazelle. This gazelle serves as an "environmental engineer" of a sort, as it breaks the earth's dry surface and enables ant lions to dig their funnels. The Dorcas gazelle is a protected animal in Israel, while hunting it in Jordan is permitted and compromises the presence of the Jordanian ant lions' soil engineers.(read more...)
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