3 years agoApril 26, 2010
The story starts with researchers at the University of Haifa, who partnered with Jordanian colleagues to study “a variety of reptile, mammal, beetle, spider and ant lion species on either side of the border in the Arava region.” According to the university’s press release, the team “set out to reveal whether the border – unknown to the species – could affect differences between them and their numbers on either side of the frontier, even though they share identical climate conditions.”
The question, in other words, is whether a border that exists only as a line drawn on a map, rather than an impassable physical boundary, can somehow become instantiated as biological fact?
The research team, led by Dr. Uri Shanas, found substantive differences in the numbers, diversity, and even behaviours of animals on either side of the border:
The first study inspected the reptile population and revealed that the number of reptiles is similar on both sides, but the variety of species in the sandy areas of Jordan is significantly higher than the variety found in the sands of Israel. A second study revealed that Israeli gerbils are more cautious than their Jordanian friends, while a third study showed that the funnel-digging antlion population in Israel is unmistakably larger than in Jordan.
These differences were then analysed to find evidence of a hypothetical “border effect.” Dr. Shanas concluded that although the yard-high strand of barbed wire tracing the political demarcation “is not capable of keeping these species from crossing the border between Israel and Jordan,” it nonetheless “does stop humans from crossing it and thereby contains their different impact on nature.”
via Edible Geography
the border stops people and also changes the behaviors of people on either side (different land use practices, laws, etc).