Can Gerbils Read Maps?
National borders may sometimes seem like arbitrary lines drawn on a map, but a new study from the University of Haifa reveals that those borders mean something to the resident animal populations. The researchers studied rodents, reptiles, and ant lion species on both sides of the Israel-Jordan border and found some interesting differences. Jordan plays host to a larger variety of reptilian species and a smaller funnel-digging ant population, while Israel’s gerbils are more cautious than their friends across the border. The scientists believe the variance is driven by differences in agricultural systems across the two countries. “The boundary is indeed a virtual marking that only appears on the map and is not capable of keeping these species from crossing the border between Israel and Jordan,” says Dr. Uri Shanas, one of the researchers. “But the line does stop humans from crossing it and thereby contains their different impact on nature.” (HT: F.P. Passport) [%comments]