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Professor Amotz Zahavi (August 14, 1928 – May 12, 2017) was known to many as a founder of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and as a scientist who introduced to the world the Handicap Principle. His main work concerned the evolution of signals, animal communication, and social behavior. Zahavi is also credited with codeveloping the information center hypothesis in 1973 with Peter Ward. Towards the end of his life he attempted to apply his signal selection theory (the handicap principle) at the molecular scale.

Amotz Zahavi established the Arabian Babbler research project in 1971 in the Shezaf nature reserve. Since then the research has been conducted continuesly by Amotz and his wife Avishag, together with researchers from all around the world as well as volunteers.

 

Awards

In 1980, The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, Zahavi and two other colleagues, was awarded the Israel Prize for SPNI's special contribution to society and the State, for the environment.

 

In 2011, Zahavi received the Fyssen Foundation's International Prize for the evolution of social communication.

 

In 2016, Zahavi received a prize for lifetime achievement from the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. 

 

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"An individual with a well developed sexually selected character [such as a peacock's flashy tail] is an individual which has survived a test. A female which could discriminate between a male possessing a sexually selected character, from one without it, can discriminate between a male which has passed a test and one which has not been tested. Females which selected males with the most developed characters can be sure that they have selected from among the best genotypes of the male population. "

Amotz Zahavi (1975)

 

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