The biological and palaeontological collections at the Hebrew University contain a unique diverse collection of flora and fauna of the Middle East and its adjacent seas, assembled over a period lasting more than one hundred years. Originally housed on Mt. Scopus, the collection eventually found its current home in 1980 and is situated in the Berman-Lubin building on the Edmond J. Safra Campus at Giv’at Ram. In 2008, we were recognized as an independent unit of the Faculty of Sciences, and are now preparing for the many challenges of the future.
The National Natural History Collections at the Hebrew University, some of which are the most complete existing collections of their kind for the region of the Middle East – now serve as a safe repository and reliable baseline for the biota of Israel in the wake of unprecedented global environment changes that also impact the Mediterranean basin. These changes are probably indicative of modifications in environmental processes and in the structure and function of ecosystems. Furthermore, due to the geographic position of Israel at the meeting point of several biogeographic and climatic regions, the biodiversity of Israel has the potential to serve as a sensitive indicator for large-scale regional and global changes.
All biological and geological collections are national assets. They present us with markers and milestones for exploring the continuity of evolutionary biological change and diversity of the biome. Our collections, assembled over a period of more than a hundred years, are particularly suitable for monitoring such changes.
Scientific methodology also moves forward at an ever increasing pace. Our task in the future will be to take the fullest advantage of these methods for research in the collections without ignoring the importance of basic methods in systematics and taxonomy.