Eviatar Nevo

Eviatar Nevo

University of Haifa, Israel

Title: Biodiversity evolution in action at


Eviatar Nevo (born 1929 ) is an evolutionary biologist , professor emeritus at the University of Haifa, Israel, in charge of the Chair in Evolutionary Biology and a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. Founded the Institute of Evolution, Haifa University. Established the International Centre for Doctoral evolution. He has published over 1200 articles and 24 books. Discovered hundreds of species of animals in scientific difference, including 77 kinds of mushrooms in the Dead Sea. Nevo obtained his MSc degree (Distinguished) and PhD degree at the Hebrew University Jerusalem. Nevo is a Foreign Member of the Linnean Society, London (1990), Ukraine Academy of Sciences (1997); Foreig Associate National Academy of Sciences USA (2000); Honorary Member of the Ukraine Botanical Society (1995), the American Society of Mammalogists (2002), and the Israel Zoological Society (2007); Honorary doctorates of World University (1990), the University of Duisberg -Essen, Germany, the Yorker International University, Milan, Italy.


How does ecological divergence affect biodiversity origination and diversification? Sharply divergent microsites provide excellent models to explore these problems. At the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel, during the last 25 years, we have been conducting a long-term project at a microscale model, which we have designated as the "Evolution Canyon" (EC) model, exploring biodiversity evolution, adaptation, and speciation across life. Starting in 1990 at EC I in Lower Nahal Oren, Mount Carmel, we extended the model to include four "Evolution Canyons" (ECs), EC I-IV, in the mountains of Carmel, Galilee, Negev, and Golan. The model consists of canyons with closely abutting slopes (separated by 100 meters at bottom and 400 meters at the top in ECI), sharply divergent ecologically. Notably, the geology, macro-climate, and soils of the abutting slopes are similar, though the slope dip may differ. The major cause for the sharp ecological divergence is the interslope micro-climatic divergence. The sun shines from the south; hence, the south-facing slope (SFS) is subject to higher solar radiation, 200-800% more than the shady north-facing slope. The outcome is that the SFS is a hot and dry African savannoid biome, dubbed the "African Slope" (AS), and the NFS is a forested biome referred to as the "European Slope" (ES). Despite their short distance, the opposite slopes largely represent the biodiversity of two continents, Africa and Europe. To date, we identified 2500 species at EC I, from bacteria to mammals, in a small area of 7000 m2 (100 species of bacteria, 500 species of soil fungi, 350 species of flowering plants, 1500 species of insects, and 50 vertebrate species. Of great importance, besides slope-specific adaptive complexes, interslope divergence lead to incipient sympatric ecological speciation across life. African colonizers settle first on AS, then migrate to the ES, originating new ecological species. European colonizers settle first on the ES, and then migrate to the AS generating new ecological species. In both cases, the new species originate sympatrically and adaptively across the life with an ongoing gene flow, i.e., within free interbreeding populations, as was exemplified at EC I by five model organisms. A soil bacterium, Bacillus simplex, a flowering plant, wild barley, Hordeumspontaneum, the progenitor of all world barleys, the tiny beetle Oryzaephilussurinamensis, the cosmopolitan fruitfly, Drosophila melanogaster, and African-originated spiny mice, Acomyscahirinus. All of these speciate within interbreeding free populations with the ongoing interslope gene flow demonstrating that the Darwinian model of sympatric speciation is frequent if local niches diverge sharply and stressfully ecologically (geologically, edaphically, climatically, or biotically). Incipient sympatric ecological speciation across a life can be studied on the opposite slopes in viruses, bacteria, cyanobacteria, fungi, flowering plants, invertebrates, and terrestrial vertebrates. The "Evolution Canyons" model in Israel, commonly but little studied worldwide, are dubbed the "Israeli Galapagos" since they are cradles of species origination across life. Species richness is higher on the tropical, ecologically more diversified AS than on the more unified temperate ES. Major adaptive complexes on the AS are against slope-specific stresses of high solar radiation, heat, and drought whereas those on the ES relate to light deprivation stress, photosynthesis, and cool-humid microclimate. The EC microclimatic model is optimal in tracking global warming at a microscale across life. EC is an ideal microsite model to study biodiversity evolution, adaptation and speciation, both phenotypically and genotypically, at the genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and phenomics levels, across life