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Ecology and transmission dynamics of Kala-Azar in Ethiopia





Structure and management

Endemic Foci of Kala Azar



Soil studies in larval breeding sites

The soil science project aims to characterize the dual domain of the crack-matrix micro environment – its formation and function as a unique habitat that may support sand fly larva breeding.

Outline of research:

Sites where many flies emerge from cracks will be compared with sites with relatively few sand flies. Comparing various soil parameters and characteristics between productive sand fly breeding habitats and others with very few sand flies, should identify soil properties that can be used as indicators for potential breeding of sand flies.

Soil characterization:
In selected productive and non-productive sites, soil samples will be obtained from different depths (surface to180-cm depth).
Chemical and physical parameters will be determined in the lab - water content at time of sampling, hygroscopic water content,  soil texture, organic matter content (total and un- or partially-degraded), and ESP. In the saturated soil paste, the electrical conductivity (EC) and pH values as well as concentrations of dissolved organic matter, and major ions.
In some soil samples, swelling and slaking rates will be determined using methods developed in Ben-Hur laboratory.

Site measurements:
At selected sites (productive and non-productive), continuously measurements will be carried to characterize in-situ chemical and micro-ecological characteristics (humidity, temperature, Eh, and CO2 and O2 concentrations) of the crack and it surrounding matrix. For these measurements, the sensors will be installed in the soil profile. After soil structure recovery and electrode stabilization, data will be collected continuously by data loggers. The construction of the differential sampling stations will follow the methods used by Shenker’s group recently to differentially assess conditions in soil cracks and nearby soil matrix in the Hula Valley, Israel (Sade et al., 2009).

Figure 1. Site setup after probe installation and before covering for structure recovery (Top left) and 60-day redox characterization chart (bottom) in a dual crack-matrix domain in the Hula Valley, Israel.


Laboratory simulations:
Soil samples from selected sites will be shipped to Volcani center, Israel. These samples will be packed in perforated columns, sensors will be installed at different depths, and the columns will be subjected to simulated rainstorms with different intensity, durations, and frequencies. Thereafter, the soil profile will be exposed and analyzed for relevant properties.

Project Personnel

Dr. Moshe Shenker, Co-group leader
Moshe is at the The Department of Soil and Water Sciences
The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Dr Meni Ben-Hur, Co-group leader is at the
Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences
The Agricultural Research Organization of Israel
Volcani Center

Relevant Publications (Shenker)

  1. Litaor, M.I., O. Reichmann, M. Belzer, K. Auerswald, A. Nishri, and M. Shenker. 2003. Spatial analysis of phosphorus sorption capacity in a semi-arid altered wetland. J. Environ. Qual. 32:335-343.
  2. Litaor, M.I., O. Reichmann, K. Auerswald, A. Haim, and M. Shenker. 2004. The geochemistry of phosphorus in peat soils of a semi-arid altered wetland. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 68:2078-2085.
  3. Huang, X., Y. Chen, and M. Shenker. 2005. Rapid whole-plant bioassay for phosphorus phytoavailability in soils. Plant and Soil 271:365-376. 
  4. Shenker, M., S. Seitelbach, S. Brand, A. Haim, and M.I. Litaor. 2005. Redox reactions and phosphorus release from re-flooded soils of an altered wetland. Eur. J. Soil Sci. 56:515-525. 
  5. Litaor, M.I., O. Reichmann, A. Haim, K. Auerswald, and M. Shenker. 2005. Sorption characteristics of phosphorus in peat soils of a semi-arid altered wetland. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 69:1658-1665.
  6. Huang, X., Y. Chen, and M. Shenker. 2007. Solid phosphorus phase in aluminum- and iron-treated biosolids. J. Environ. Qual. 36:549-556.
  7. Brand-Klibanski, S., M.I. Litaor, and M. Shenker. 2007. Overestimation of P adsorption capacity in reduced soils: An artifact of typical batch adsorption experiments. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 71:1128-1136.
  8. Clapp, C.E., M. Shenker, M.H.B. Hayes, R. Liu, V.W. Cline, A.J. Palazzo, and Y. Chen. 2008. Microsystems for rapid evaluation of plant growth response to organic amendments. Soil Sci. 173:342-349.
  9. Huang, X., Y. Chen, and M. Shenker. 2008. Chemical Fractionation of Phosphorus in Stabilized Biosolids. J. Environ. Qual.  37:1949-1958.
  10. Sade, R., M.I. Litaor, M.I., and M. Shenker. 2010. Evaluation of groundwater and phosphorus transport in fractured altered wetland soils. J. Hydrol. (Accepted).

Relevant Publications (Ben-Hur)

  1. Levin, J., Ben-Hur, M., Gal, M. and Levy, G.J. 1991. Rain energy and soil amendments effects on infiltration and erosion of three different soil types. Aust. J. Soil Res. 29:455-465.
  2. Stern, R., Ben-Hur, M. and Shainberg, I. 1991. Clay mineralogy effect on rain infiltration, seal formation and soil losses. Soil Sci. 152:455-462.
  3. Ben-Hur, M., Stern, R., van der Merwe, A.J., and Shainberg, I. 1992. Slope and gypsum effects on infiltration and erodibility of dispersive and nondispersive soil. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 56:1571-1576.
  4. Agassi. M., Bloem, D., and Ben-Hur, M. 1994. Effect of drop energy, and Soil and water Chemistry on infiltration, and erosion. Water Resour. Res. 30:1187-1193.
  5. Ben-Hur, M. and Agassi M. 1997. Predicting interrill erodibility factor from measured infiltration rate. Water Resour. Res. 33:2409-2415.
  6. Ben-Hur, M., Agassi, M., Keren, R., and Zhang, J. 1998. Compaction, aging, and raindrop-impact effects on hydraulic properties of saline and sodic Vertisols. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 62:1377-1383.
  7. Ben-Hur, M., Li, F.H., Keren, R., Ravina I. and Shalit, G. (2001). Water and salt distribution in a field irrigated with marginal water under high water table conditions. Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 65:191-198.
  8.  Lado, M. and Ben-Hur, M. (2003). Soil mineralogy effects on seal formation, runoff and soil loss. Applied clay Sci. 24: 209-224.
  9.  Ben-Hur, M. (2006). Using synthetic polymers as soil conditioners to control runoff and soil loss in arid and semiarid regions – a review.  Aust. J. Soil Res. 44:191-204.
  10.  Ben-Hur, M. (2006).Using synthetic polymers as soil conditioners to control runoff and soil loss in arid and semiarid regions – a review. Aust. J. Soil Res. 44:191-204.
Funded by: Bill and Melinda Gates foundation


Hebrew University The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel Addis Ababa University Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia Charles University in Prague Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic Volcani Center

Volcani Center, Israel

The Gertner Institute The Gertner Institute, Israel Faculty of Medicine Hadassa Medical School Faculty of Medicine Hadassah Medical School, Israel

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