Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research

Albert Katz International School

for Desert Studies


Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology


The Swiss Institute for Dryland Environmental & Energy Research



Ben-Gurion University of the Negev






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Last updated  Feb 19, 2020



Camp Evolution VII

Sede-Boqer Campus, March 1 – 5, 2020


Alexander V. Badyaev

Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of Arizona, Tucson  


Control theory in evolution and development






















Organizer: Ariel Novoplansky






Alex Badyaev

First day

Previous workshops:

Camp Evolution  I:   Sympatric Speciation and Evolution of Sex

Camp Evolution II:  Evolutionary and Ecological Genomics

Camp Evolution III: Human Evolutionary Genetics

Camp Evolution IV: Unresolved Problems in Evolutionary Biology

Camp Evolution  V: Plant Evolutionary Biology after Darwin

Camp Evolution VI: Evolution on Fitness Landscapes






Getting there




  Academic credit


Campus map



The workshop is meant for scholars and graduate students interested in anything evolutionary…

Students can earn 2 academic credits (BGU course # 001-2-3335) pending the submission of a written assignment.


Workshop description

The framers of modern evolutionary theory saw evolution in explicitly ecological terms – as a product of changes in species interactions. They noted that evolution always occurs in a context of an ever changing community and there is something about this context that transforms static adaptive solutions into a dynamic and continuous evolutionary process. A good candidate for the force behind these evolutionary transitions were thought to be gains and losses of external dependencies – inputs that are essential for species’ functioning that nevertheless exist outside of species’ transient boundaries. The intuitive appeal of this idea was that it helped us understand why evolution traverses uninterrupted sequences of adaptive solutions and how it links them. It also shaped research on the features of multilayered organismal architecture that enables these evolutionary transitions between static adaptive states. The problem, however, is that we don’t really know how this process works empirically.

The rationale of the workshop hinges on the realization that control theory of dynamic systems – a field that is concerned with the ways complex systems move from one state to another without losing their functionality – have been investigating these mechanisms for about as long as evolutionary theory has recognized their centrality for biological processes. As a result, we now have a set of parallel solutions to essentially the same problems but from distinct starting points, backgrounds, and motivations. The lectures will review and test these solutions and synthesize their advantages and conceptual implications for key principles in ecology and evolutionary theory


Getting there, local amenities etc.


·       Reaching Beer-Sheva from Tel-Aviv is best done by train

·       From Jerusalem you should better take an Egged bus

·       To Midreshet Ben-Gurion (mind you- not Kibbutz Sede-Boker), take Metropolin buses 60 or 64 from Beer-Sheva's Central bus station.

·       All activities will take place at the Albert Katz School (AKIS), class #1, Bldg 47, Sede-Boqer Campus.

·       Proper meals can be ordered at the Sede Boqer field school but there are a few local eateries, a grocery store and a pub.

·       All participants are welcome to join a dinner party on March 4, 2020.

·       Please bring with you layered clothing (days can be nice and cozy but nights can be chilly), hiking shoes and a swimsuit (no promises but it might become useful in our hikes).


First day (Mar 1, 2020):

·       Participants staying at the local hostel/guesthouse are kindly requested to check in at the Sede-Boqer Field School Office (#13 on map) 

·       Get together: 13:00

·       Orientation: 13:30

·       First lecture: 14:00

@ Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies, Bldg 47, class 1, Sede-Boqer Campus






Sun, Mar 1

Mon, Mar 2

Tue, Mar 3

Wed, Mar 4

Thu, Mar 5


08:30 – 10:15


Arrival and



Key concepts and insights for evolution and development



Reconciling stability and change


Copying, activating and recycling controls


Synthesis I. Implications for ecology and evolution


10:15 – 10:45


Coffee break


Coffee break


Coffee break


Coffee break


10:45 – 12:30

Get together: 13:00



Orientation: 13:30


Evolutionary transitions in controls


Elements of control


The ‘niche’ enigma


Synthesis II. Implications for ecology and evolution


12:30 – 13:30


Lunch break


Lunch break


Lunch break


Lunch break


14:00 – 18:00


Unresolved issues in evolutionary theory 



*Sunset over the Zin






*Hike: secrets of the Zin






*Hike: Parsat Nekarot

Ramon Crater






*Hike: Nachal Yamin





19:00 – 20:00


Supper break


Supper break


Supper break


Dinner party



20:30 – 21:30

Uri Roll

Incorporating phylogenies to improve conservation priorities

Pedro Aphalo

The evolutionary ecology of information acquisition in plants

Merav Seifan

A rose is a rose? variations in the responses the True Rose of Jericho to neighbors and habitat conditions

Lilach Hadany

The microbiome and evolutionary theory: the open questions of cooperation and sex


21:30 - ?










*Excursion destinations may change according to weather conditions and bloom phase