Professor, Noga Kronfeld-Schor
Ph.D.: Tel Aviv University, 1997

(Office) +972-3-640-5740
(Lab) +972-3-640-5739

(Fax) +972-3-640-9403

Room#: Room 215, Meier Segals Gardens for Zoological Research
Member's portrait
  Personal Information
  Research Interests
  Selected Publications
  Students and Lab Members

Personal Information


Period of study

Name of University


Degree or    Professional License

Date of Award

1987 - 1990

Tel Aviv University

Life Sciences



1990 - 1992

Tel Aviv University magna cum laude




1990 - 1992

Tel Aviv University


Teaching certificate


1993 - 1996

Tel Aviv University




1992 - 1997

Tel Aviv University




Title of Master's thesis: " Water and energy exchanges in desert and temperate hare populations (Lepus capensis)”.
Names of supervisor: Prof. A. Shkolnik, Tel Aviv University.

Title of Doctoral dissertation: "Coexistence among desert spiny mice: Ecological,physiological and biochemical aspects".
Names of supervisors:

Prof. A. Shkolnik, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University.
Prof.. T. Dayan, Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University.
Prof. N. Zisapel, Department of Neurobiochemistry, Tel Aviv University

Further studies

Period of study

Name of University


Degree or

Professional License


Boston University (with T. H. Kunz and E. P. Widmaier)

Physiological ecology

Post-doctoral fellow

1998 - 1999

Boston University

Physiological ecology

Research associate

1999 - 2001

Tel Aviv University (with I. Choshniak)

Physiological ecology

Post-doctoral fellow

1999 - 2001

The Heschel Center

Environmental Learning

and Leadership


Academic and professional experience

Period (dates)

Name of Institution



1988 - 1990

Tel Aviv University


Research Asst

1990 - 1997

Tel Aviv University


Teaching Asst.

2001 - 2006

Tel Aviv University


Lecturer (Alon fellow)

2006 - Tel Aviv University Zoology Senior lecturer


Research Interests

My main research interest is the interaction between physiological and endocronological processes and the evolutionary ecology of organisms and communities. Physiology and especially endocrinology of mammals are usually studied in the laboratory, and focus on humans and laboratory animal models. However, these systems have been shaped by evolutionary processes under natural conditions. Moreover, the properties of physiological and endocrinological systems influence evolutionary processes in individuals and populations and consequently contribute to structuring ecological communities. Understanding these processes, using a comparative approach will further our understanding of these systems on one hand, and of their involvement in ecological and evolutionary processes on the other hand. Part of my research is carried out in the field, using experimental ecological techniques, and part of it is carried out in the laboratory, using endocrinological and physiological methods, to the molecular level.

Research in my laboratory focuses on three related projects:

1. Daily rhythms, their plasticity and ecological significance:

Circadian rhythmicity is a fundamental characteristic of a species. It is an important component of its physiology, as well as to its social and ecological interactions. Nevertheless, the mechanisms determining nocturnal and diurnal activity are largely unknown, and most of what we know about mammals’ circadian physiology comes from studies on nocturnal mammals. In this study we use use Acomys russatus as an alternative animal model for the study of the neural mechanisms determining nocturnal and diurnal activity in mammals. In its natural habitat, A. russatus is competitively excluded by its nocturnal congener, A. cahirinus, from a nocturnal to a diurnal niche. We are taking advantage of this unique ecological phenomenon. Specifically, we study the effect of different non-photic cues on A. russatus circadian physiology, and study rhythmic processes (Fos, Per1 and Per2 expression) within the neural structures that regulate circadian rhythms, in order to determine if they are correlated with the different activity patterns exhibited by the two Acomys species, and with the different activity patterns exhibited by A. russatus. These experiments will help us to gain valuable insight into the integrated functioning and complexity of the central mechanisms that determine activity time, their plasticity, and to the interplay between ecology, neurophysiology, and circadian rhythms.

2. The roles of ecological and physiological selective forces in shaping rhythms biology and community structure in a rocky desert rodent system: (cooperation with Prof. Tamar Dayan)

The role of time in mediating ecological interactions and in shaping the structure of ecological communities is still poorly understood. Moreover, little research has focused on the role played by selective forces and evolutionary constraints in the evolution of activity patterns of animal species.
An excellent model system for the study of the role of temporal partitioning and the evolution of activity patterns is found at Ein Gedi, near the Dead Sea. Two congeners, the nocturnal common spiny mouse (Acomys cahirinus) and the diurnally active golden spiny mouse (A. russatus), coexist in rocky habitats. This is an unusual situation; because physiological, morphological, and behavioral adaptations often accompany a diurnal or nocturnal way of life, closely related species are generally active during the same part of the diel cycle.
We are currently carrying out an experimental study in four 1000 sq. m. field enclosures at Ein Gedi. Two enclosures hold mixed populations of both species, and serve as controls, while two are populated only with A. russatus, and serve as experiments. We study the roles of animal physiology, circadian rhythmicity, ambient temperatures, and food and water availability, as well as those of evolutionary constraints, in shaping motor activity patterns of desert small mammals, and the community structure at this rocky desert.

Results of this study will enable us to:

a) understand the precise motor activity rhythms of nocturnally active A. russatus;

b) compare the body temperature rhythms of nocturnally and diurnally active A. russatus;

c) estimate the cost in energy and water turnover of shift from nocturnal to diurnal activity of A. russatus;

d) understand the role of food and water availability in shaping the activity pattern of A. russatus.

3. Adaptation to food shortage in mammals of desert habitats: control of body mass

Body mass and composition is one of the most important characters of mammals and one that is extremely significant to fitness. Our study focuses on the physiological, endocrinological and biochemical mechanisms of adaptation to food shortage in relation to behavioral ecology, and the role of leptin in these adaptations. Specifically, we study how desert rodents that do not store food, survive food shortage periods. What are the mechanisms for fat accumulation and for reducing metabolism in response to food shortage, and what is the involvement of leptin in these adaptations?
The study focuses on the response of Acomys russatus, an omnivorous desert rodent that doesn’t store food, to food restriction and the possible involvement of uncoupling proteins in the reduction of energy expenditure in response to food shortage. We also study the response of Acomys russatus to high-energy diet, and the mechanism allowing fat accumulation in this species.

Selected Publications

1. Kronfeld-Schor, N., A. Haim, T. Dayan, N. Zisapel, M. Klingenspor, and G. Heldmaier.
Seasonal thermogenic acclimation of diurnally and nocturnally active desert spiny mice.
Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 73(1):37-44. 2000.

2. Kronfeld-Schor, N., Silvia, A.B. Kunz, T. H., Richardson, C. and Widmaier, E. P. Dissociation of leptin secretion and adiposity during pre-hibernation fattening in little brown bats.
American Journal of Physiology 279:R1277-R1281. 2000.

3. Kronfeld-Schor, N., T. Dayan, R. Elvert, A. Haim, N. Zisapel, and G. Heldmaier.
On the use of the time axis for ecological separation: endogenous rhythmicity as an evolutionary constraint.
American Naturalist 158 (4): 451-457. 2001.

4. Kronfeld-Schor, N., and Dayan, T.
Partitioning of time as an Ecological Resource.
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 34:153-81. 2003.

5. Gutman, R, Choshniak, I., and Kronfeld-Schor, N.
Defending body mass during food restriction in Acomys russatus: a desert rodent that does not store food.
American Journal of Physiology. 290(4): R881-891. 2006.

6. Cohen, R. and Kronfeld-Schor N.
Daily circadian rhythms in golden spiny mice.
Physiology & Behavior. 87: 563-574. 2006.

7. Roll, U., Dayan, T. and Kronfeld-Schor, N.
On the role of phylogeny in determining activity patterns of rodents.
Evolutionary Ecology. 20: 479-490. 2006.

8. Gutman, R., Yosha, D., Choshniak, I., and Kronfeld-Schor N.
Two strategies for coping with food shortage in desert golden spiny mice.

Physiology & Behavior. 90: 95-102. 2007.

9. Levy, O., Dayan, T. and Kronfeld-Schor N.
The relationship between the golden spiny mouse circadian system and its diurnal activity: An experimental field enclosures and laboratory study.
Chronobiology International 24:599-613. 2007.

10. Gutman, R., Hacmon-Keren, R., Choshniak, I., and Kronfeld-Schor, N.
Effect of food availability and leptin on the physiology and hypothalamic gene expression of the golden spiny mouse: a desert rodent that does not hoard food
American Journal of Physiology. 295: R2015-R2023. 2008.

11. Ashkenazy T, Einat H and Kronfeld-Schor N.

We are in the dark here: induction of depression- and anxiety-like behaviors in the diurnal fat sand rat, by short daylight or melatonin injections.
Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 12:83-93. 2008.

12. Kronfeld-Schor, N. and Dayan, T.
Activity patterns of rodents: The physiological ecology of biological rhythms.
Biological Rhythms Research 39:193-211. 2008

13. Cohen, R., Smale, L., and Kronfeld-Schor, N.
Plasticity in rhythms in general activity and body temperature in golden spiny mice.
Chronobiology International. 26:430-446. 2009.

14. Ashkenazy, T., Einat, H., Kronfeld-Schor N.
Effects of bright light treatment on depression- and anxiety-like behaviors of diurnal rodents maintained on a short daylight schedule.
Behavioral Brain Research. 201:343-346. 2009.

15. Glik M, Segal-Lieberman G, Cohen R, and Kronfeld-Schor N.

Chronic MCH infusion causes a decrease in energy expenditure and body temperature, and an increase in serum IGF-1 levels in mice.
Endocrine.36:479-485 2009.

16. Einat H, and Kronfeld-Schor N.
Initiative report – utilizing diurnal model animals in the study of depression.
Frontiers in Neuroscience, 3:242-243. 2009.

17. Cohen R, Smale L, Kronfeld-Schor N.
Masking and temporal niche switches in spiny mice.

Journal of Biological Rhythms 25:47-52. 2010

18. Cohen, R, Kronfeld-Schor, N, Ramanathan, C, Baumgras, A, and Smale, L.
The supraciasmatic nucleus of Acomys Russatus and Acomys cahirinus, nocturnal and diurnal congeners.
Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 75:9-22. 2010. (I.F. 2.714, rank 21/47).




Students and Lab Members


Post-Doctoral fellows
2010 Rotem Cohen
2010 Ofir Levy (Co-advisor: Tamar Dayan).


Doctoral students

2001 - 2007 Roee Gutman (Co-advisor: Itzhak Choshniak)
The role of body mass control in the adaptation of desert rodents to food shortage
2004 - 2010 Rotem Cohen, Plasticity of circadian rhythms in golden spiny mice
2005 - 2010 Ofir Levi, (Co-advisor: Tamar Dayan): Modeling climate effects: From basic principles to community structure
2005- Eran Levin: Aspects in the biology and diet of Rehinopoma microphyllum (Co advisor Yoram Yom-Tov).  
2007- Ronit Hacmon-Keren: The mechanisms underlying starvation induced hyper activity and its ecological and medical relevance .  
2008- Orly Barak: Circadian rhythms in the diurnal fat sand rat.  
2008- Tal Ashkenazi: The fat sand rat: a new animal model for seasonal affective disorder (Co-advisor Haim Einat).  
2009- Shay Rotich; Ecological light pollution (Co advisor Tamar Dayan).  
















M.Sc students
2001 - 2004 Einav Vidan (Co-advisor: Tamar Dayan): Factors shaping rocky desert rodent community structure: a new method and the golden spiny mouse as a model.
2001-2003 Merav Weinstein. Spiny arthropods, spiny parasites and spiny mice – availability and ecology at Ein Gedi (Co- advisor: Tamar Dayan).
2002 - 2004 Keren Cohen-Barel: Estrogenic pollution of Israel ’s rivers: the effect on wild fish endocrinology as a biomarker.
2001 - 2004 Iris Schubert: The effect of naturally enforced shift of activity time on stress hormone levels, stress response and the internal temporal order
2002 - 2004 Rotem Cohen: The circadian system of Golden spiny mice (Acomys russatus).
2002 - 2004 Amichai Guter. The Euroasian otter (Lutra lutra) in Israel: Conservation implications.
2003 - 2006 Moran Glik: The role of MCH and NPY in modulating energy balance.
2003 - 2007 Yaara Gatsera Sandomirsky: Parental care in common spiny mice .
2004-2007 Natali Stern. Helping mothers in common spiny mice (Co- advisor David Eilam)
2005- 2007 Roni Keren : Body mass regulation in golden spiny mice: the melanocortin system.  
2005- Yossi Ben Ari : Reinforcing of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) population in Israel : translocation as a step towards re-colonization.
2006- 2008 Tal Ashkenazi : Affective responses to changes in photoperiod in the fat sand rat : Possible mechanisms and Insights into Seasonal Affective Disorder (Co-advisor Haim Einat. (
2006- 2009 Shay Rotich. Ecological light pollution (Co advisor Tamar Dayan ).
2007- Orly Barak : The circadian system of a diurnal rodent, the fat sand rat.
2007- Eyal Bloch : The physiology of foraging behavior (Co advisor Tamar Dayan ).
2008- Roni Krizer: Obesity and feeding time.
2008- Shellie Fisher: Male –female differences in the response to food restriction in golden spiny mice.
2008- Krivisky Katy: Validation of the fat sand rat as an animal model for depression.
2009- Eran Amichai: Energetics of the free tailed bat (co advisor Yoram Yom-Tov).
2009- Carmel Bilu: Daily rhythms in cognitive functions in diurnal and nocturnal rodents.
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