Amos Bouskila, Principal Investigator

bouskila at

For many years I focused on the study of predator-prey interactions, reptile and mammal ecology and the conservation of their habitats. Tools include field work, lab work and mathematical models to understand decision making in animals (game theory models are my favorites).
Since 2009 I added a new direction, studying Equids (my passion outside of work joined my research interests). Among these studies I deal with behavior, ecology and conservation of the Asiatic Wild Ass (Equus hemionus) that was reintroduced in the Negev Desert. During a sabbatical on 2010 I initiated a study on behavior, social network and movement of Konik horses in a nature reserve in the Netherlands; during 2014 sabbatical, I studied the social life and movement of Retuertas horses in Donana Biological station.

Yael Zilka, Lab Manager

bogin at

As a child I used to hike a lot with my family, and later with Orienteering – the youth movement of the Society for the Protection of Nature (SPNI). Getting familiar with natural environments, I was fascinated by the extent of influence each and any component has over others in an ecological system. I got interested in ecology and nature conservation during high school and during my army service as an SPNI guide at the Hazeva Field Study Center, where I had the chance to join (and later guide) activities of the Israel Herpetological Information Center. I completed my MSc in Environmental Biology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, studying the burrowing behavior of the gecko Stenodactylus doriae. During these years I worked at the SPNI study centers in Dimona and Beer-Sheva. In 2006 I started working at BGU and I am involved in all the studies at the Behavioral Ecology lab, besides being a teaching assistant at the Dept. of Life Sciences. During these years I have also completed an MA in Business management.

Nitzan Segev, PhD Student

nitzan at (co-supervised with Oded Berger-Tal and Elli Groner)

I am a naturalist by heart, and a a marine and desert biologist by occupation. After completing a Master’s degree in Animal Sciences, conducting my study at Israel’s Limnological and Oceanic Research station in Eilat, I spent more than a decade working at the “Inter University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat”, as part of the “Israel’s National Monitoring of the Gulf of Eilat” program, where I was involved with recording the biodiversity of fish, corals, algae, invertebrates, plankton etc.

Lately, I joined the “Dead sea & Arava Science Center”, taking part in different monitoring programs, such as Acacia monitoring in the entire Arava Valley and LTER station in “Wadi Shita”, observing scorpions, butterflies, insects, Acacia trees etc.

Since December 2014, when a major oil leak occurred in Avrona nature reserve, this became my main research discipline (as well as my second home…). Here I strive to evaluate and understand the influence of crude oil on the ecosystem in this arid area of Israel, home to diverse desert flora and fauna.

As part of my PhD research I am taking part in a 5-year monitoring program, checking reptiles and insects and investigating how the oil leak affected not only their demographics, but also their behavior, in order to provide a clearer picture for the conservation and restoration of the Avrona reserve.

Liran Sagi, MSc Student

liransag at

From young age I volunteered with animals and hiked a lot in nature. As early as my high school years I knew I would study biology and be involved with animals. Back then, my ambition was to transfer to veterinary studies, but my interests drew me towards ecological research.
Less than a month after finishing my service in the IDF, I started my B.Sc. in life sciences at Ben-Gurion University. At the end of my first year I knew I would go on to study ecology. I participated in the ‘Ashalim’ program for high achieving students, as well as the ‘Dkalim’ program for excelling students. During my second year I started my research in this lab. I studied the desert Chameleons (Chamaeleo chamaeleon musae), which I still study to this day for my M.Sc.
My day to day research involves caring for study animals, analyzing data with advanced mathematical models, a lot of field work and countless hours of hard work. I often look at the technical side of science and use advanced programming and mathematical tools, to analyze and understand ecological processes and even make predictions for the future.

Sahar Gofer, MSc Student

shgofer at (co-supervised with Oded Berger-Tal)

Nature has always been a major part of my life. I realized I am a “desert person” while hiking in the Negev and Eilat mountains during my teenage years. Therefore, I spent a year guiding trips in Eilat Field School, before my army service in unit 8200.

I studied my BSc in Marine Biology and Biotechnology at Ben Gurion University. While studying about climate change effects, I realized I would like to research the field of ecology from an applicative perspective.

In my MSc, I investigate the effect of the 2014 oil leak in the Avrona Nature Reserve on the behavior and habitat choice of reptiles and rodents in experimental enclosures. Among other elements, I will examine the behavioral reaction to the interactions between elevated temperatures in soil that absorbed oil and food abundance.  

Undergraduate students – current year


Post Docs

2013-2017, Dr. Maggie Watson.

2013-2015, Dr. Nina Giotto.

Dr. Guy Rotem, Post-doc 2013-2015, PhD student 2008-2012.

(During PhD co-supervised with Y. Ziv)

Currently Lecturer and Research Associate at BGU

2014, Dr. Sharon Renan.

2009, Dr. Michal Segoli.

2009, Dr. Daphna Gotlieb.

1998-1999, Dr. Greg Johnston, Kreitman Fellow.

PhD students

2020, Tania L. F. Bird, Ph. D., BGU, jointly with Pua Bar. (Currently – National Red List Coordinator, HaMA’ARAG)

2015 Tammy Keren-Rotem, Ph.D., Tel-Aviv Univ., jointly with E. Geffen. (Currently – Nature and Parks Authority)

2015 Dan Bar-Yaacov, Ph.D., BGU, jointly with D. Mishmar. (Winner of the Rector prize for excellent PhD student). Postdoctoral Researcher at Morgridge Institute for Research.

2014 Sharon Paz-Renan, Ph. D., BGU, jointly with S. Bar-David. (Winner of the Yshai Levi Prize for best Research on Fauna and Flora of Israel, awarded by the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, 2012). Accepted faculty position in Kay Collage, Beer Sheva.

2012 Guy Rotem, Ph.D., BGU, jointly with Y. Ziv. Teaches and Research Associate at BGU.

2010, Boaz Shacham, Ph.D., BGU. (Winner of prize for excellent teaching 2006). Curator of Herpetological Collection, Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem.

2009, Shomen Mukarjee, Ph.D., BGU, jointly with B. Kotler. (Winner of the Merav Ziv Prize for best PhD Research, Mitrani Dept. of Desert Ecology). Accepted a faculty position at Azim Preji Univ., Bangalore, India.

2009, Michal Segoli, Ph.D., BGU, jointly with T. Keasar and A. Harari. (winner of the Kreitman Foundation Fellowship; Winner of the Baron De-Hirsh fund Research Grant, 2005; 2nd best PhD talk at the Israel Entomological Soc. Meeting, 2006; winner of the David Rozen Prize for best PhD study; winner of the prize for best PhD Research, meeting of Zoological Society of Israel, 2007, Winner of BARD and Bikura Fellowships for Post-doctoral studies, 2009). Accepted a faculty position at BGU.

2009, Daphna Gotlieb, Ph.D., BGU, jointly with A. Harari and Y. Lubin. (winner of the prize for best PhD Research, meeting of Zoological Society of Israel, 2005; winner of  best PhD talk at the Israel Entomological Soc. Meeting, 2006). Accepted a position at Volcani Center.

2006, Dror Hawlena, Ph. D., BGU, jointly with Z. Abramsky. (Winner of the Merav Ziv Prize for best MSc Research, Mitrani Dept. of Desert Ecology; winner of the Georg Haas prize for best PhD Research, Zoological Society of Israel (2003), Winner of the Merav Ziv Prize for best PhD Research, Mitrani Dept. of Desert Ecology).  Accepted a faculty position at the Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem.

MSc Students