Prof. Ido Izhaki
VP and Dean of Research
Prof. Ido Izhaki is the Vice President and Dean of Research at the University of Haifa.
He is an Ecologist with experience in both basic and applied ecology including studies on man-wildlife conflicts. He published more than 200 articles in international refereed journals. He is a faculty member at the university for over 25 years. He held several official positions within and outside the university, including the Director of Carmel Research Center, Chairman of the Department of Biology and Chairman of the Zoological Society of Israel. He also served in many governmental committees in various topics such as global warming, the effect of wind farms on flying organisms and the estimation of ecosystem services in Israel.
His professional experience in basic ecology is on plant-animal interactions, focusing on the role of secondary metabolites in fruits, seeds and nectar on bird nutrition, seed dispersal, pollination and plant fitness. These studies combine field work in Israel and other countries around the Mediterranean basin as well as in North America, Australia and South Europe and experiments with captive animals in Israel that include birds of various species as well as rodents, rabbits, gazelles, and fruit-bats. The research on applied ecology includes reducing man-wildlife conflicts, wildlife management, natural reserve policy and ecosystem services, especially in Mediterranean ecosystems.
The central hypothesis of his studies is that secondary metabolites are mediators of the interactions between plants and fruit and nectar wildlife consumers. In his study he showed that some secondary metabolites in fruit and nectar have an ecological role, preventing seed predation by invertebrates and microbes without decreasing fruit removal by avian dispersers. Furthermore, he found that some secondary metabolites are retained in the ripe fruits because they have direct nutritional benefits to the frugivores that consume them. This study also provided a major insight into the chemical multi-functionality in plant secondary metabolites. In his recent study he showed an unknown phenomenon that secondary metabolites in fruits of a desert plant may enhance seed dispersal by rodents. His findings in this study demonstrated the power of secondary metabolites to shift the animal-plant relationship from predation to mutualism. Prof. Izhaki’s current studies include (1) Ecosystem services on Mount Carmel Biosphere Reserve, (2) Multidimensional differentiation in foraging resource use of top predators and (3) The role of secondary metabolites in fruits and nectar in shaping plant-animal-bacteria interactions.