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A species of dragonfly common in the Arabian deserts was discovered in the steppe

As part of the Teva-Biz project shared by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Society for the Protection of Nature, a nature survey was conducted for the first time in Naot Smadar where the new dragonfly was discovered

A new species of dragonfly in Neot Smeder, photo - David Kotter
A new species of dragonfly in Neot Smeder, photo by David Kotter

Recently, a bio-blitz was held in Kibbutz Naut Smadr in the Arava - a "compressed" 24-hour nature survey, which shares with the general public in documenting a variety of species - a collaboration between a joint nature-business project with the Society for the Protection of Nature and the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ornithology Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature , Eilat Ornithological Center and Kibbutz Naut Smadar. As part of it, the best biodiversity researchers from the Arava, the Negev and the rest of the country, ecologists from the Nature and Parks Authority, students from the Arava Institute and students from the schools in Naot Samdar and the southern Arava studied every corner of the kibbutz and its surroundings, marked what they saw, what could hinder the biodiversity there and how it could be improved, Listen to migrating birds, look for insects in the bushes, butterflies in the gardens, reptiles under stones and in pits, rare plants in the wadis that cross the kibbutz and find mammals recorded by traffic cameras and coal surfaces that leave traces.

As part of the survey, Raa Shesh, a graduate student in the laboratory of Prof. Nir Sapir from the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology at the University of Haifa, whose research deals with the migration of dragonflies, and Mteva, a guide and surveyor at the Ornithology Center of the Society for the Protection of Nature, discovered one finding that stood out above all: a new species of dragonfly that had not been recorded until So in Israel, under the name - Paragomphus sinaiticus. According to him, since there is still no official name in Hebrew, she was given the temporary name "Malkatit Sinai". "This species is known from the crescent-Arabian desert belt, from Oman and the United Arab Emirates through Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Chad and Niger. We discovered a population that includes adults after emerging from the hatchlings, larvae, and larvae. It is too early to say whether this is an existing population that escaped the notice of the Israeli dragonfly people, or whether this is a passing episode. We will continue to monitor the population in the near future in order to assess its situation", he says.

Dragonflies are a subset of predatory insects that depend on bodies of water for reproduction. Dragonflies are close to dragonflies but differ in the structure of the wings. The larvae live in water, and emerge from the water for pupation and the emergence of the winged adult. Throughout their life cycle, dragonflies prey on and feed on a wide variety of prey, including mosquito larvae in water bodies, which makes dragonflies friendly to humans. "In Israel, 67 species of dragonflies and dragonflies have been recorded so far, some of them apparently became extinct due to the drying up of the Hula Lake, and some of them are very rare and are in danger of extinction. Finding a new species in Israel is an exciting event, but it should be noted that a small population at the edge of its range, and in a small and isolated habitat, may be in danger of local extinction. We have a responsibility to learn how to protect it," adds Shish.

A new species of dragonfly in Neot Smeder, photo - Itai Shani
A new species of dragonfly in Neot Smeder, photo - Itay Shani

Dr. Anna Trachtenbrot, Head of Biodiversity at the Ministry of Environmental Protection: "In the Teva-Biz project shared by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Society for the Protection of Nature, we are developing projects and tools that pave the way for assimilating the importance of preserving biodiversity in the private sector in order to include ecology in the core activities of private companies as well . The discovery in Naot Smeder shows that these projects not only produce sustainable tools for environmental management, but also yield ecological discoveries at the national level, emphasizing the richness and diversity of Israeli nature. This important discovery comes at an interesting time, since this year, we celebrate a decade of activity of the Teva-Biz joint venture."

Teva-Biz has so far led about twenty projects with infrastructure companies, agricultural associations, and tourist sites. The project helps companies map their effects on biodiversity, locate business opportunities, and implements innovative protocols that enable minimizing negative effects on nature while enhancing economic benefits from preserving it. In the current round, there are four projects: the Yaffe Nof infrastructure company, the Sabar Kema agricultural associations and the Emek farmers, and the improvement of the habitats of Kibbutz Naut Samdar. "Within the framework of a community-based nature conservation project, which is led by the people of Kibbutz Naot Smadar, and whose purpose is to understand that their home is not only a home for them but also for a large biological diversity, the natural infrastructure in the area of ​​the kibbutz is mapped and a plan is developed to preserve and enhance biological diversity with an emphasis on the kibbutz's function as a stopping point and refueling point for migratory birds. This, as a model for residential areas and as an eco-tourism site, which can also be implemented in other rural communities in Israel," says Noam Weiss, director of the Eilat Birding Center and a senior birder at the Israel Birding Center at the Society for the Protection of Nature.

Prof. Nir Sapir, Head of the Animal Aviation Research Laboratory and Head of the Department of Evolutionary and Environmental Biology, University of Haifa: "The discovery of the new dragonfly species indicates that even after many years of observations and surveys, there are still significant knowledge gaps in the understanding of the distribution of insects and other animals in Israel. Specifically, the number of people involved in documenting the distribution of dragonflies and dragonflies in Israel is tiny. Our ability to monitor biological diversity in Israel over time in order to examine the impact of various environmental changes, including those originating from human activity, depends on this professional workforce whose contribution to nature conservation in Israel is extremely important."

Anat Shaul from Kibbutz Navat Samdar: "The members of the Kibbutz treat their home not only as a place to live and make a living, but as a mosaic of diverse and complex habitats that are also used by a large variety of wild animals. Nature is part of the place, it lives with us, integrated into our lives, we share with it what we have built and created and nature is with us here, and in a big way. Navot Samdar is a completely organic oasis, which is one of the reasons why there is an abundance of interesting insects that also attract birds and other animals. With the help of the Teva Biz project we will try to step up and improve the habitat that already exists here with more accurate resolutions. The opportunity to enjoy nature and the environment is part of our quality of life, and the reciprocity and repeated contribution of the community is important here."

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