Lab Manager: Ittai Renan

Academic Committee: Drs. Menachem Goren, Inon Scherf

"If human beings were not so impressed by size alone,
they would consider an ant more wonderful than a rhinoceros"

(E.O Wilson)

Arthropods are the most diverse group of animals in terrestrial systems, accounting for over 70% of all known organisms. They inhabit a vast variety of niches across wide spatial scales and exhibit a variety of feeding habits and life forms that,  after the plants, constitute a basis for most terrestrial food webs. Because of their high and fast reproduction rate, arthropod communities are sensitive to both short- and long-term environmental changes. Because large numbers of arthropod specimens and species can be efficiently collected, the group is utilized as a rich data source for ecological monitoring and ecosystem management.  

The Entomology Lab for Ecological Monitoring was founded in spring 2014 within the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History. Current studies in the lab focus on conservation and ecological management questions, utilizing arthropods as a sensitive tool for the assessment of ecological quality and ecosystem response to anthropogenic activities. Assessment includes multivariate analysis of community structure and composition, integrating various ecological indices and experimental approaches. Taxonomic identification is carried out according to the specific analysis in each research. The identification is based on the National Collection of Insects and its relevant experts, as well as on worldwide experts of different insect groups. The large-scale arthropod sampling, which is carried out at different sites, in different seasons, and using a variety of methods, supplements the collection with valuable specimens: rare, new to the Israeli fauna, and new species for science.

The lab’s activity spans geographically from Ramot Yissakhar in the north to Sedom, south of the Dead Sea. Current research being performed in the lab includes the monitoring of arthropod communities on the borders between agricultural and natural landscapes and ecological corridors, providing operational recommendations for management restoration in national parks; estimating the impacts of local anthropogenic pressure on sensitive ecological systems; and monitoring the populations of a rare butterfly. 

Projects are carried out in collaboration with The Israel Nature and Parks Authority, The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Israel’s National Ecosystem Management Assessment Program, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ramat Hanadiv, and regional councils. We aim to provide a high-resolution tool able to contribute to a greater understanding of ecological systems, in order to aid the ongoing efforts to conserve  Israel's biodiversity.

Projects in the lab:

2016-2017: Fields and agricultural marginal areas: Mutual ecological influences and economic implications of interface exchange –Emek Harod , Ministry of Agriculture, The Nature and Parks Authority.

2016-2017: Monitoring ant outbreaks, invasions and endemism in the Dead Sea area – The Nature and Parks Authority.

2014-2017: Dead Sea region monitoring program, Israel Nature and Parks Authority:

• The impact range of palm groves on the terrestrial arthropod community.
• A terrestrial arthropod community survey in the alluvial fans of Nahal Zeelim and Nahal Hever.
• Monitoring springs and salt marshes in Sedom.
• Effect of the presence of donkeys on the terrestrial arthropod community in the Einot Tzukim nature reserve.
• Monitoring natural and artificial pool banks in the Einot Tzukim nature reserve.
• The effect of aridity on the terrestrial arthropod community in Einot Tzukim nature reserve.
• Monitoring habitat restoration, Ein Bokek.
• The effect of reed clearing on the terrestrial arthropod community in Einot Kane and Samar.

2013-2016: Sustainable agriculture, Lev HaSharon. 
Examination of an ecological corridor expansion into agricultural lands.
Israel Nature and Park Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Lev Hasharon Regional Council.

2015: Ecological unit assessment ranking in the northern Negev loess. Open Landscape Institute (OLI), The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

2013-2016: Monitoring the effect of locust spraying on the terrestrial arthropod community in the western Negev sands, Israel Nature and Park Authority.

2014-2016: Biodiversity in agricultural systems: the effect of ploughing depth on the composition of a terrestrial arthropod community. Northern R&D and Galil Research Institute LTD (Migal).

2014-2015: The effect of coastal dune stabilization on a terrestrial arthropod community. In: State of Nature Report, HaMAARAG.

2014-2016: Monitoring an Iolana alfierii population, following locust spraying in spring 2013. Israel Nature and Park Authority and Ramat HaNegev Local Council.

2014: The effect of nitrogen-rich lands on the composition of a terrestrial arthropod community. Ramat Hanadiv.

2014: An arthropod community composition survey in Mishor Yamin and Mishor Rotem. Israel Nature and Park Authority.

2014: Butterfly survey, Nahal HaEla and Nahal Bhao. 

Ittai Renan
The Entomology Lab for Ecological Monitoring
Sherman Building, Room 316
Department of Zoology
George S. Wise Faculty of Life Science
Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978 ISREAL
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History and National Research Center
Tel: 036405120