What is the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology?
The Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology (MDDE) is one of seven research departments at the Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research (BIDR). The BIDR is an integral part of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and is Israel's national institute for desert research. It is located at Midreshet Ben-Gurion on the Sede Boqer Campus of BGU, 54 km south of the main campus in Beer-Sheva.
Research at the MDDE has two main goals.
· The first is to study deserts as model ecosystems for advancing ecological knowledge. MDDE faculty members conduct ecological research at different levels of integration including physiological, behavioral, population, community and landscape levels.
· The second goal is to better understand the ecology of deserts in Israel and to make this knowledge available to the scientific community as well as to government and industry. This information can be used for the conservation and prudent, sustainable development of desert regions.
The MDDE Research Program
The MDDE has a group project focusing on the conservation of biological diversity in desert ecosystems. An international workshop on Biodiversity of Drylands was organized by the MDDE in June 1999 to assess the state of knowledge in the field of conservation of biological diversity in deserts and to set out goals for future research.
The workshop provided incentive for developing a coordinated departmental research project to examine biodiversity patterns, the factors that influence them and the requirements for management and conservation. Additionally, research of the MDDE faculty covers a wide range of topics. Applied ecology: Projects in collaboration with the Jewish National Fund and other organizations include landscape management to arrest desertification and surveys for assessing the effects of land development. Physiological and behavioral ecology: Physiological and behavioral adaptations to desert conditions are investigated, and their influence on populations and communities of desert organisms. Population and community: Studies are conducted of population dynamics of plants and animals and patterns and processes in a range of desert communities, including both plants and animals. Finally, the ways in which these different levels are integrated in the desert landscape, and their interactions with man-induced changes, constitute the field of landscape ecology.