Israel National Center for Aquatic Ecology

Team: Yaron Hershkovitz (Ph.D.), Tuvia Eshcoly (M.Sc.), Adi Weiss (B.Sc.), Ofir Hirshberg (M.Sc.)

Steering Committee: Prof. Tamar Dayan and Dr. Menachem Goren (TAU), Dr. Dana Milstein and Mr. Nissim Keshet (INPA), Dr. Amir Erez and Mr. Alon Zask (IMEP)

Who we are:
The Israel National Center for Aquatic Ecology (INCAE) is part of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University, and supported by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (IMEP) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA).

The main goal of the INCAE is to support legislation and management of freshwater ecosystems in Israel by providing necessary information for stakeholders and decision makers on a national scale.
Israel represents an extreme case of a water-stressed country that results from its semi-arid climate, the geophysical topography, the dense population, and the regional complex politic situation. This has lead to severe negative impact on the country’s aquatic systems primarily caused by freshwater overexploitation, pollution and changes in landuse.
For the past several decades, the IMEP together with the INAP have put remarkable efforts in restoration of aquatic ecosystems to enhance ecological functionality and integrity, to protect aquatic and riparian biodiversity and to regain ecosystem services (such as water provision, regulation of water quality, tourism and pest control).
Nevertheless, so far there has been little effort to develop a nation-wide bioassessment tool, such as biological indicators, flag-species and ecological integrity, which can be used for developing new legislative and restoration measures.

What we do:
The tasks of the INCAE include the following:
- To centralize all published material concerning aquatic ecosystems in Israel and neighboring countries.
- To develop and apply standardized protocols for collecting, treating and managing biological data from aquatic systems nation wide.
- To incorporate multiple Biological Quality Elements (mostly macroinvertebrates) for ecological status assessments
- To conduct ecological surveys and produce assessment reports on the ecological status of streams and wetlands, and suggest possible management practices
Currently we are engaged in preparing field and lab protocols and improving the taxonomic and autecological knowledge on aquatic invertebrate species, towards the development of type-specific indicators that will be used at different ecological regions of the country (such as perennial flowing streams at the Jordan catchment or intermittent coastal streams)

Running projects:
- COST Action CA15219 "Developing new genetic tools for bioassessment of aquatic ecosystems in Europe" http://dnaqua.net (2016-2021).
- GIF project ESSESMENT (Ecological status and ecosystem services of the Lake Kinneret catchment: setting the scene for the management of a multi-stressed region), Research Grant Agreement Number: G-1272-203.13/2014. Supported by the German-Israeli Foundation (2015-2017)
- Ecological assessment as a supporting tool for river basin management: the southern Jordan and its tributaries as a model. Supported by the Landscape Protection Fund of the Israel Land Authority (2017-2019)
- Ecological assessment of the Dead Sea Oasis wetland reserves. Supported by the IMEP (2015 - currently).
- Bioassessment of the Tanininm Stream. Supported by the YAD Hanadiv Foundation (2016-2017)
- Ecological biomonitoring of the Kishon River. Supported by the Kishon River Authority (Autumn 2017 - currently)

Contact
Israel National Center for Aquatic Ecology
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and National Research Center,
Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv, 6997801 Israel
Tel/fax: +9723-640-6990 E-mail: iaec@tauex.tau.ac.il