Prof. Amotz Zahavi

מכון לחקר שמירת הטבע אמריטוס
Prof. Amotz Zahavi
Phone: 03-6408008
Fax: 03-6409403
Office: Sherman - Life Sciences, 2 01


Born 1928, Petach-Tiqva, Israel

1941-1946 Agricultural high school at Pardess Hana

1947 Serving as a guide in the boy scouts

1948-1949 Military service

1954 M.Sc. in Zoology from the Hebrew University Jerusalem

            Subject: The birds of the Huleh lake and swamp. H. Mendelssohn superviser

1955  Oxford, England, with Niko Tinbergen. On a British Council scholarship

1956-1969  General secretary of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

1965-1984 Founder and head of the Institute for Nature Conservation Research at the Tel-Aviv University.

1970 At the Edward Grey Institute for Field Ornithology, Oxford, with David Lack

--Suggesting with P. Ward the theory of the gathering of birds as information centers.

1970 Ph. D. Dept. of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University

Subject: The winter behaviour of the white wegtail.  H. Mendelssohn superviser

1971-1997 Dept. of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University.

1971 The start of the long term study of the babblers at Hazeva.

1975 Publication of the theory of the Handicap Principle.(Zahavi, 1975)

1984-1987 Chairman of the Dept. of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University

1997 Retired. Continue the long term study of the babblers at Hazeva.and teaching at the Tel-Aviv University

1998- present. Honorary Director of the Hazeva Field Study Center, still teaching and accepting students for M.Sc. degree



Research Interests

I am interested in understanding social systems, altruism, and the evolution of signals – from cell-to- cell signaling to signaling among birds and mammals, including humans.


Field studies.

Although I am retired I continue to observe the babblers at Hazeva for 2-3 days a week. I am looking for students (M.Sc., Ph. D., or Post Doc) for field work on various aspects of the behaviour of the babblers and other birds at Hazeva. (A student is expected to stay in Hazeva for more than half of the time of his/her studentship).


Traveling and Teaching.

Since I am perhaps one of the few evolutionary biologists who believes that all adaptations, including the various forms of altruism, have evolved by individual selection, I am ready to travel anywhere to give seminars or short courses to lecture on these topics.


Recent Publications

Ward, P, and Zahavi, A. 1973. The importance of certain assemblages of birds as "information-centers" for food-finding.  Ibis 115: 517-534.


Zahavi, A., 1975. Mate Selection: A selection for a handicap. J. Theor. Biol. 53: 205-14.


Zahavi, A., 1977a  Reliability in communication systems and the evolution of Altruism. In: Evolutionary ecology,  ed. B. Stonehouse and C.M. Perrins, 253-59. London : Mcmillan Press.


Zahavi, A., 1977b. The cost of honesty (Further remarks on the handicap principle). J. Theoretical Biology, 67: 603-5.


Zahavi, A., 1977c. The testing of a bond. Anim. Behav. 25: 246-47.


Zahavi, A., 1978. Decorative patterns and the evolution of art. New Scientist. 80: 182-84


Zahavi, A., 1989.  Arabian babbler.   In: Lifetime reproduction in birds ed. I. Newton, 253-276.Academic Press. London


Zahavi, A., 1990. Arabian babblers: The quest for social status in a cooperative breeder.

In: Cooperative breeding in birds: long term studies of ecology and behaviour, ed. P.B.Stacey and W.D. Koenig, 103-30. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.


Zahavi, A., 1993. The fallacy of conventional signaling. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 33

8: 227-230



Zahavi, A., 1995. Altruism as a handicap - The limitations of kin selection and reciprocity. Avian Biol. 26: 1-3.


Zahavi, A. and Zahavi, A. 1997. The Handicap Principle: A missing piece of Darwin 's puzzle.  Oxford University Press. New-York, Oxford .


Zahavi, A., 2003. Indirect selection and individual selection in sociobiology: My personal views on theories of social behaviour. Animal Behaviour, 65, 859-863.


Zahavi, A.,  2005. Is group selection necessary to explain social adaptations in microorganisms?Heredity 94: 143-144.


Zahavi, A. 2006. Sexual Selection, Signal Selection and the Handicap Principle. In: Reproductive Biology and Phylogeny of Birds. Part B. ed. B.G.M.Jamieson. pp 143-159. Science Publishers, Plymouth.



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