Taxonomy of Pleistocene–Holocene Herpetofauna of the Hula Basin

Amphibians and reptiles, as ectotherm, habitat-dependent vertebrates are highly sensitive to environmental factors such as temperature and moisture in their immediate surrounding. They are therefore reliable proxies of climate and environment changes and their fossil record can be used to reconstruct paleoenvironments and paleoclimatic changes. Moreover, since individual amphibian and reptilian species often have specific tolerances for temperature, vegetation cover, water quality and other factors which control their distribution, they are reliable environmental proxies. However, applying herpetofaunal fossil record as environmental proxy was never applied systematically in Israel

The proposed study has two aims which can be achieved through taxonomic identification and reconstruction of geographic distribution of fossil herpetofauna in the Hula Basin during the Pleistocene–Holocene: To track climatic and environmental changes and to gain a better understanding of recent amphibian and reptile species distribution.

The localities included in this study are : Gesher Benot Ya'aqov - Early-Middle Pleistocene, Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet - Late Pleistocene, Ain Mallaha - Late Pleistocene, Beisamoun - Holocene

As hundreds of species are expected to become extinct over the next few decade, a detailed knowledge of the evolutionary history and distribution of species before severe human-induced environmental changes is the essential basis for establishing management and conservation programs for extant amphibian and reptiles populations.

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