The Red Book
Vertebrates in Israel By Amit Dolev, Avi Perevolotsky
Israel is a bird lover's country and this comprehensive book will help both the novice bird watcher as well as the expert Ornithologist. More Below
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The Red Book
Product Sub Title:
Vertebrates in Israel
Amit Dolev, Avi Perevolotsky
Israel Nature and Parks Authority
Israel is a bird lover's country and this comprehensive book will help both the novice bird watcher as well as the expert Ornithologist.
The Red Book: Vertebrates in Israel is the guide that any and all lovers of wildlife require on their bookshelves. It charts Israel’s environment, listing in great detail the various endangered vertebrates that live in this remarkably small and impressively ecologically dense landscape.
Although Israel is a small country, it possesses a unique diversity of animal species unlike anywhere else in the world. 511 different species have been recorded over the area of only 28,000 km.
30 freshwater fishes
283 species pass over the county during both migration seasons
The Red Book: Vertebrates in Israel features-
Some 46 photographs of different species
Clear maps showing the birds migration patterns and areas of habitat
Background on the biogeographic history of fauna in Israel
Freshwater fishes in Israel
Here is a partial list of chapters included in The Red Book: Vertebrates in Israel
Vertebrates in Israel
Freshwater fishes in Israel
Amphibians in Israel
Reptiles in Israel
Birds in Israel
Mammals in Israel.
The Chapter on birds, written by Asaf Mayrose and Dan Alon of the Israel Ornithological Center and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, contains details pages with photographs for over 50 species along with a comprehensive list of over 210 species.
Despite its small size, only 22,000 square km, Israel displays an impressive ecological diversity. this stems from its unique bio-geographical location: a bridge between the desert belt (Sahara-Arabia) and the Mediterranean region, with corridors to the dry tropics via the rift vally and to the heights of central Asia through the northern mountain chain.
-From the back cover
ISRAEL’S RED LIST OF VERTEBRATES
According to the IUCN - The World Conservation Union, the Red List of Threatened Species is one of the key tools used to determine the status of the Earth's biodiversity. In an effort to identify the status of all of Israel's plant and animal species, red lists of threatened species are currently being prepared or completed. The first part of the project – an ambitious effort to identify Israel’s endangered vertebrates – was completed in 2002. The resulting publication - Red Book of Threatened Species in Israel – Vertebrates – edited by Amit Dolev and Avi Perevelotsky and published by the Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (in Hebrew), should be followed in coming years with the publication of a Red Book of plant species, based on a twelve year long field study of Israel’s botanic heritage.
Israel’s Red Book of Vertebrates, which is based on the criteria formulated by the IUCN, provides information on changes that have taken place in Israel’s fauna in the near and distant past, with specific chapters on mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and freshwater fish in Israel. Each of the chapters includes a zoogeographic introduction and background, including information on the main risks facing both species and habitats and data on endangered and threatened species based on the IUCN categories. The information on each species includes: level of global and regional risk, existing distribution, past distribution, habitats, risk assessment, population size, fragmentation between populations, changes in population size, actions necessary to preserve the species, and summary tables on regional and global risk levels.
The Be’er Sheva Fringe-fingered Lizard (Acanthodactylus beershebensis) is a case in point. Destruction of some 90% of the preferred habitat of this lizard, mainly loess soils, has led to a drastic reduction in the population of this endemic species. In the past, this lizard was the most widespread reptile in the loess plains of the northern Negev and southern Judean desert, flourishing in a habitat spanning some 2000 square kilometers. Today, with a habitat that has shrunk to just 200 square kilometers and with small populations that are cut off from one another, it is no wonder that the species is listed as critically endangered. What can be done to protect this lizard from extinction? Only the preservation of its habitat can save it from extinction.
Israel’s Red Book of Vertebrates makes for some fascinating reading. It reveals, for example, that Israel is very rich in terms of number of species per area, even by world standards. This is especially true in the case of birds and mammals. Some 511 different species of birds have been observed in Israel in different seasons of the year. Similarly, Israel’s geographic and climatic diversity is responsible for the existence of 104 species of mammals, again a very high number when considering Israel’s small size.
Yet this wide diversity is clearly endangered. According to the Red Book, some 35% of the country’s vertebrates are endangered, although the rate ranges between 20% for nesting birds to 83% for amphibians. Significantly, more than half of the 34 vertebrates, which are listed as extinct, are wetland dependent species. This should come as no surprise in light of Israel’s widespread exploitation of its water sources – springs, streams, swamps - since the beginning of the 20th century to provide for drinking and irrigation needs. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that exploitation and the subsequent transformation of the streams into sewage conduits affected the aquatic and riparian biodiversity as well as the terrestrial biodiversity adjacent to the springs and streams. Hopefully, the current Israeli initiative to rehabilitate rivers and wetlands will restore some of these lost habitats.
Following is a brief look at the state of vertebrates in Israel at the time the Red Book of Vertebrates was published (2002). The endangered species column includes critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable species:
Percent of Endangered Species
Example of Endangered Species
Stream & lake fish
What can be done?
The Red Book is not a panacea for saving Israel’s biodiversity. However, the information it brings, both about the level of risk facing Israel’s vertebrates and the steps that should be taken in order to prevent their extinction, should significantly contribute to more informed decision making concerning measures to preserve Israel’s natural heritage. Such measures include, among others, better ecosystem management, conservation of critical habitats, prevention of the introduction of alien species, increased enforcement, declaration of new nature reserves, reduction of hunting and of poison use, and reintroduction of animals. Initiatives are currently being taken in several of these areas – whether in the form of the restoration of the country’s rivers and wetland habitats, or more stringent control over the introduction of alien species, or reintroduction of species. Thus, out of the 15 birds listed as extinct (11 of which are extinct as nesting birds), one is already undergoing reintroduction – the White-tailed Eagle. Other species, including the Griffon vulture and Lanner falcon, are being reinforced and returned to the Carmel region. Moreover, out of the nine mammals listed as extinct, four are already being successfully reintroduced – the onager, roe deer, Persian fallow deer and Arabian oryx – as part of a project to reintroduce populations of animals present in historical times, as supported by Biblical reference. In fact, the total herd of Persian fallow deer in the wild has already reached more than a hundred, the largest wild population in the world.
Hopefully the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the state of Israel’s vertebrates, which is provided in Israel’s Red Book of Vertebrates, will help identify trends and lead the way toward new initiatives targeted at protecting Israel’s rich biodiversity.