Dr. Yuval Sapir

ביולוגיה מול.ואקול.צמחים סגל אקדמי בכיר
Dr. Yuval Sapir
Phone: 03-6407354
Another phone: 03-6409910
Office: Botanical Gardens, 06


Yuval obtained his BSc in Biology in 1997 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. He loved the botanical-garden-like campus in Givat Ram, so he stayed there for his MSc and PhD. His master’s thesis dealt with Iris morphological taxonomy, while in his doctorate thesis he studied the pollination ecology of the Oncocyclus irises. He received his PhD in 2004. During a postdoc at Indiana University (USA) he carried out research on the ecological genetics of hybrid sunflower species, Helianthus anomalus, and on the pollination ecology of recombinant inbred lines of the cultivated and wild common sunflower. Yuval Joined Tel Aviv University as a Porter research fellow in School for Environmental Studies in 2008. He appointed as a director of the Tel Aviv University Botanical Garden in 2009 and joined the Dept. of Plant Sciences as a faculty member in 2012. His current research interests include the evolution of plants under climate changes, ecological speciation of Oncocyclus irises, and the effect of pollinators' behavior on the evolution of flowers.

Research Interests

The research in Sapir's lab focuses primarily on understanding how ecology shapes plants' evolution, how plants adapt to their environment, both biotic and a-biotic, and how species diversity is formed and maintained. Especially we are interested in a few specific questions:

(1) Do pollinators act as natural selection agents on flowers? What is their relative power in shaping floral traits, and to what extent other factors (like a-biotic conditions or herbivores) affect it?

(2) What is the genetic basis of traits affecting floral traits that attract pollinators? Does plant's genetic variation affect pollinators’ behavior? Is there genotypic selection on structural genes through their expression?

(3) Does ecology play a role in speciation? To what extent ecological adaptation affect reproductive isolation between populations within a species and provides the first steps towards creation of a new species?

(4) Can plant adaption be rapid enough to track the pace of current climate changes? Is rapid evolution plausible in the face of human-made disturbances? Are there plant populations more (pre-)adapted to upcoming desertification?

Recent Publications

Sapir, Y., A. Shmida and H. P. Comes. (2001) Iris bismarckiana in Israel and Jordan - new findings and taxonomic remarks. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 49(3):229-235.


Arafeh, R. M. H., Y. Sapir, A. Shmida, N. Iraki, O. Fragman and H. P. Comes. (2002) Patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation in Iris haynei and I. atrofusca (Iris sect. Oncocyclus = the Royal Irises) along an environmental gradient in Israel and the West Bank. Molecular Ecology. 11: 39-53. (PDF)


Sapir, Y., A. Shmida, O. Fragman and H. P. Comes. (2002) Morphological variation of the Oncocyclus Irises in the southern Levant. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 139: 369-382. (PDF)


Sapir, Y. and A. Shmida. (2002) Species concepts and ecogeographical divergence of Oncocyclus irises. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 50:S119-S127. (PDF)


Shmida, A., O. Fragman, R. Nathan, Z. Shamir and Y. Sapir. (2002) The Red Plants of Israel: a proposal of updated and revised list of plant species protected by the law. Ecologia Mediterranea. 28(1):55-64. (PDF)


Sapir, Y., A. Shmida and O. Fragman. (2003) Constructing Red Numbers for endangered plant species - Israeli flora as a test case. Journal for Nature conservation 11(2):91-108. (PDF


Sapir, Y., A. Shmida and G. Ne’eman. (2005) Pollination of the Oncocyclus irises (Iris: Iridaceae) by night-sheltering male bees. Plant Biology. 7(4):417-424. (PDF) + Cover


Sapir, Y., A. Shmida and G. Ne’eman. (2006) Morning floral heat as reward to the pollinators of the Oncocyclus irises. Oecologia. 147:53-59. (PDF)


Segal, B., Y. Sapir, and Y. Carmel. (2007) Fragmentation and pollination crisis in the self-incompatible Iris bismarckiana (Iridaceae), with implications for conservation. Israel Journal of Ecology and Evolution. 52: 111-122. (PDF)


Sapir, Y., M. L. Moody, L. C. Brouillette, L. A. Donovan, and L. H. Rieseberg. (2007) Patterns of genetic variation and heterozygosity and candidate genes for ecological divergence in a homoploid hybrid sunflower, Helianthus anomalus. Molecular Ecology 16: 5017-5029. (PDF)


Baack, E. J., Y. Sapir, M. A. Chapman, J. M. Burke, and L. H. Rieseberg. (2008) Selection on domestication traits and QTLs in crop-wild sunflower hybrids. Molecular Ecology 17:666-677. (PDF)


Martin, N. H, Y. Sapir, and M. L. Arnold. (2008) The genetic architecture of reproductive isolation in Louisiana Irises: pollination syndromes and pollinator preferences. Evolution 62: 740-752. (PDF)


Arnold, M. L., Y. Sapir, and N. H. Martin. (2008) Genetic exchange and the origin of adaptation – prokaryotes to primates. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 363(1505):2813-2820 (PDF). 


Sapir, Y. (2009) Effects of floral traits and plant genetic composition on pollinator behavior. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 3: 115-129. (PDF)


Dorman, M., Y. Sapir, and S. Volis. (2009) Local adaptation in four Iris species tested in a common garden experiment. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98: 267-277. (PDF)


Sapir, Y. (2009) Pollination genetics: Using molecular genetic underlying floral traits to study pollination ecology in an evolutionary context. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 57(3): 141-149. (PDF)


Dorman, M., P. Melnik, Y. Sapir, and S. Volis. (2009) Factors affecting dormancy of Oncocyclus iris seeds. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 57(4):329-333. (PDF)

Volis, S., M. Blecher, and Y. Sapir. (2010) Application of complex conservation strategy to Iris atrofusca of the Northern Negev, Israel. Biodiversity and Conservation 19:3157-3169. (PDF)

Sapir, Y. and W. S. Armbruster. (2010) Pollinator-mediated selection and floral evolution: from pollination ecology to macroevolution. New Phytologist 188(2): 303-306. (PDF)

Volis, S., M. Dorman, M. Blecher, Y. Sapir and L. Burdeniy. (2011) Variation partitioning in canonical ordination reveals no effect of soil but an effect of co-occuring species on translocation success in Iris atrofusca. Journal of Applied Ecology 48:265-273. (PDF)

Sapir, Y. and R. Mazzucco. (2012) Post-zygotic reproductive isolation among populations of Iris atropurpurea: the effect of spatial distance among crosses and the role of inbreeding and outbreeding depression in determining niche width. Evolutionary Ecology Research 14: 425–445. (PDF)

Golodets, C., J. Kigel, Y. Sapir, and M. Sternberg. (2013) Quantitative versus qualitative vegetation sampling methods: a lesson from a grazing experiment in a Mediterranean grassland. Applied Vegetation Science 16:502-508. (PDF)

Watts, S., Y. Sapir, B. Segal and A. Dafni. (2013) The endangered Iris atropurpurea (Iridaceae) in Israel: honeybees, night-sheltering male bees and female solitary bees as pollinators. Annals of Botany 111:395-407 (PDF).

Lavi, R. and Y. Sapir. (2015) Are pollinators the agents of selection for the extreme large size and dark color in Oncocyclus irises? The New Phytologist 205: 369-377 (PDF).

Tessler, N., Y. Sapir, L. Wittenberg, and N. Greenbaum (2015) Recovery of Mediterranean vegetation after recurrent forest fires: insight from the 2010 forest fire on Mount Carmel, Israel. Land Degradation & Development (DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2419)

Wilson, C. A., Padiernos, J., and Y. Sapir, The royal irises (subgenus Iris section Oncocyclus): plastid and low-copy nuclear data contribute to an understanding of their phylogenetic relationships. Taxon (in press). 


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