APRIL 28, 2019

Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences

The Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at Hebrew University


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) hosts more than 6,570,000 individual specimens. As an institution, the University is ranked among the 100 leading universities in the world and first among Israeli universities. As well as being the focus of collections-based research, the University collection provides assistance to other institutes, including with delivering programmes of public engagement and community outreach.

Infrastructure description

The collections serve as a safe repository for natural history specimens and are the subject of scientific research in evolution and ecology, taxonomy and systematics, biodiversity, conservation genetics and wildlife forensics.

Staff have extensive experience in conduction collection-based projects through local, national and international networks.

Focus – areas include collections on Lessepsian migration of fish and monitoring arachnid diversity in agroecosystems and in nature reserves. IL-TAF leads on the development of an area-wide management system for effective pest control in sustainable agriculture. Research activities include evolutionary biology, genetics, biomechanics, growth and development, nutrition and disease, functional anatomy, forensic anthropology, dental anthropology and archaeozoology.

Infrastructure available to Access Users

Access to the main collections, which include:

  • The Herbarium, with a comprehensive collection of both phanerogamous and cryptogamic plants of the Middle East.
  • Marine invertebrates, which contains rare samples of the fauna of Levantine inland freshwater bodies that are either extinct or inaccessible. The mollusc collection holds a vast collection of Middle Eastern molluscs from all major habitats.
  • The terrestrial invertebrate collections, which include the most comprehensive arachnid collection in the Middle – East, as well as historical parasitological collections and agriculturally important pests and predatory mites.
  • The amphibians and reptiles collection is considered the most extensive regional record of Middle Eastern taxa
  • The bird collection is unique in consisting of rare bird species of the Middle East.
  • The fish collection holds the largest inventory of fish specimens of the Res Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • The recent vertebrates comparative collection represents the local fauna of Israel, and adjacent regions.
  • The Archaeozoological collections comprise of specimens from hundreds of sites representing the history of the fauna from the Pliocene to the Holecene of Israel.
  • The Paleontology collection holds an impressive body of information on the fossil record of the eastern Mediterranean.

This collection also includes many hugely significant historical collections, and a wildlife cryobank with 15,000 specimens.

Available equipment includes: a digital stereomicroscope, with high quality multi – layer pictures combined using Zerene Stacker (Version 1.04) and other non – digital stereomicroscopes alongside specimen preparation equipment. IL-TAF also has a conservation lab containing a diverse array of specialist equipment, well equipped developmental biology, molecular biology and microscopy lab including a darkroom area, a temperature controlled insect room, and office space for lab members. Two separate laboratories are dedicated to modern and ancient DNA research and extensive IT facilities including all relevant software intended for analysing high – throughput NextGen sequence data. Shared facilities include units at the Hebrew University, such as a Centre for NanoScience & Nanotechnology (HUCNN), a computerised Archaeology Laboratory at the Institute of Archaeology, and a Centre for Genomic Technologies.


Prof. Rivka Rabinovich, rvkar@mail.huji.ac.il