Yael Leshno Afriat

Ongoing collection projects include:

  • Digitization of the recent Mediterranean mollusc collection
  • Digitization of the recent Mediterranean brachiopod collection – to be presented at Biodiversity_Next (October 2019).
  • Training in the taxonomic identification of molluscs by the collection manager, Mr. Henk Mienis.

PhD candidate, Geology
Fredy & Nadine Herrmann Institute of Earth Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Geological Survey of Israel

Supervised by Prof. Rivka Rabinovich and Dr. Yael Edelman-Furstenberg
Thesis: Paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Middle Jurassic using benthic macrofaunal assemblages: Outcrops in northern and southern Israel

My research focuses on the exceptional outcrops of the Middle Jurassic at Makhtesh Gadol and Mount Hermon to quantitatively investigate the benthic macrofaunal assemblages. The Middle Jurassic of Israel has a rich fossil record of well-preserved benthic macrofauna including bivalves, gastropods, corals, sponges and stromatoporoids. I use quantitative field methods such as quadrate sampling and line transects to study the macrobenthic assemblages of these richly fossiliferous Middle Jurassic sequences. In addition, I combine virtual paleontology methods such as micro-CT together with geometric morphometrics to taxonomically identify specimens of Nerineoidea gastropods, one of the most abundant and widespread macrobenthic groups of the Mesozoic.

Selected sampling methods

I use 50×50 cm2 quadrates to sample fossiliferous horizons; each quadrate is point counted for reef structures and specimens are identified to the species level from the sediment surface.

The Middle Jurassic of Makhtesh Gadol has an exceptionally preserved and rich molluscan assemblage, comprised primarily of specimens of Nerineoidea gastropods and large Mytilidae bivalves.

In addition to quadrate sampling, I use 10 m line transects spaced at 5 m intervals to quantitatively sample the percent cover of reef components in the patchy reefs of Makhtesh Gadol. The percent cover of reef builders is calculated based on the diameter of reef structures along each transect, corrected for effective sampling area (bandwidth). I use polished cross-sections to distinguish between coral and sponge specimens, which are otherwise indistinguishable in the field.



Leshno, Y., Benjamini, C., and Edelman-Furstenberg, Y., 2016. Ecological Quality Assessment in the Eastern Mediterranean combining live and dead molluscan assemblages. Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 104, p 246-256. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.01.014.

Leshno, Y., Edelman-Furstenberg, Y., Mienis, H., and Benjamini, C., 2015. Molluscan live and dead assemblages in an anthropogenically stressed shallow-shelf: Levantine margin of Israel. Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatolology Palaeoecology, v. 433, p 49-59. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2015.05.008.