The Swiss Army knife of salamanders

WUSTL biologist Alan Templeton and colleagues in Israel and Germany received $2 million to look at the shifting patterns of gene expression, called the transcriptome, in two remarkably versatile species of fire salamander, one native to Israel and the other to Germany. The work may explain why this genus of salamanders is able to adapt to a wide variety of habitats when most salamander species live in one.

The secret lives of the wild asses of the Negev

The Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) disappeared from the Negev, the desert region in southern Israel, in the 1920s. But a remnant herd survived in the Shah of Iran’s zoo. Some of these animals were reintroduced to the desert beginning in 1982. Recently scientists at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and Washington University in St. Louis have been inventing clever new ways to check on the status of these famously elusive animals.