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The Arava Bird-watching and Ecology Center (A.B.E.C) connects the fields of ecological research, environmental education and ecotourism, and builds upon the ties between many entities working in these fields in the region.
The A.B.E.C is based primarily on the internationally reknowned work of Prof' Amotz Zahavi on the Arabian Babblers at Shezaf Nature Reserve. The A.B.E.C coordinator is Oded Keynan- a PhD student from Tel-Aviv University & Macquarie University (Sidney Australia) and a professional birdwatcher conducting his research on the Arabian babblers.
Goal: The main goal is to position the A.B.E.C as an academic, educational, tourism center for research of desert birds and desert ecology.
There is a unique natural word in the Arava in which many different types of flora and fauna, which originated in the Sahara, in East Africa and in the Central Asian Desert and Arabia, live together. The geographical location of the Arava, with its biblical landscapes, positions it on one of the main routes for bird migration in the world. The conditions of the arid desert and its unique ecology additionally allow local species of birds to nest and flourish. In addition to the unique ecological system found in the Central Arava, a long-term research on the biology, ecology and social behavior of the Arabian Babbler, songbirds which have a complex social network, is conducted in the Shezaf Nature Reserve since 1971. The entire population of the Babblers in the research area is marked, and the birds are used to the presence of human observers. The researchers are familiar with most of the individual birds, who live in some 20 groups in the research area. The population of Babblers on Hazeva was used as the basis for development of central scientific theories in sociobiology and behavioural ecology, at the heart of which is the understanding of the communication between the individual birds - "the handicap principle" and understanding the significance of altruism among the Babblers and in nature in general. The results of the research studies were published in the book "the handicap principle- a missing piece in darwin's puzzle", as well as in dozens of scientific articles. The book has been translated into four languages.