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Mussery A.,Bar - Ilan University | Leu S.,Judea Research and Development Center | Leu S.,Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research | Lensky I.,Bar - Ilan University | And 2 more authors.
Arid Land Research and Management | Year: 2013

Forestation is a widely accepted way to combat desertification. This approach can have tremendous beneficial effects on soil and environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommended Acacia victoriae for rehabilitation of degraded arid environments. For that purpose areas in the Northern Negev were planted with Acacia victoriae in the period of 1990-1993. The planting techniques were: sparse plantings (Contour trenching and Savanna), and dense planting of woodland. We divided each of those treatments into planted and control plots. In the plots planted by contour trenching the values of annual biomass per area, nutrient and Soil Organic Carbon (SOC) contents underneath the tree's canopies were the lowest, while those values in the planted savanna and woodland plots were significantly higher. Contour trenching also harmed the soil by causing erosion, and decreasing the soils water holding capacity. Therefore, Woodland and Savanna plantings should be preferred over contour trenching in arid areas. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Mor-Mussery A.,Bar - Ilan University | Leu S.,Judea Research and Development Center | Leu S.,Desert Research Institute | Budovsky A.,Judea Research and Development Center | Budovsky A.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev
Arid Land Research and Management | Year: 2014

One of the recommended ways to cope with degraded arid areas is the introduction of special biological species termed "ecosystem engineers" that can accelerate the rehabilitation and increase the ecosystem fertility by creating beneficial conditions for resettlement and regrowth of the native plant species. However, identifying these species and assessing their effects on the ecosystem (as a primary step for assigning to them an "engineering efficiency" property) is a challenging subject. Taking this into account, we present a methodology that enables assessing the effects of different organisms from the flora and insecta classes on arid ecosystems (characterized by patch-matrix pattern). Specifically, this methodology is based on allocating per each of the organisms (or group of them), a representative patch area in relation to their effect. Using this technique one can also estimate the effects of a given organism on its patch neighbors-the so called "hospitality value." Organisms with low value are most likely to appear alone in their respective patches, whereas the ones with high values will encourage other species to settle inside their patches. The methodology described in this study was tested under different climates and grazing regimes in arid shrubland (Chiran area, northern Negev, Israel). We found that in addition to the shrubs, the ants (mainly of Messor sp.) have a high contribution to the size and the fertility of patches in these ecosystems. The methodology developed in this study could be adjusted and applied to other arid shrublands and degraded ecosystems all over the world for better understanding the relationships between them and the surrounding ecosystem. © 2014 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Mor-Mussery A.,Ben - Gurion University of the Negev | Leu S.,Desert Research Institute | Budovsky A.,Judea Research and Development Center
Environmental Management | Year: 2015

The correlations between perennials and the herbaceous productivity in patches occupied by them were previously studied and several descriptive models were defined. Yet these studies focused on either single or several species without analyzing higher numbers and ranking their effects. Here we describe a handy analytical methodology which allows separating the effects of each perennial species on herbaceous productivity at its respective patches from those of the others in a given area, even in case of complex patches containing several species. The described methodology also allows analysts to correlate the effect of perennials to their patch sizes and the respective herbaceous biomass. Additional mathematical analysis presented here succeeded in differentiating between the perennial species stand-alone presence effect on the herbaceous productivity and that attributed to the canopy size. In addition, the effects of location along the slope and its rockiness outlines were studied. As a case study, we chose representative sloped shrubland with rockiness outlines, located in Yattir farm, Northern Negev, Israel. Based on the described analyses we found that the species with the highest positive effects on the herbaceous productivity were Echinops polyceras, Echium angustifolium, and Salvia lanigera. Contradictory effects were observed in case of Thymelea hirsute, Anchusa ramosus, and Noaea mucronata. Collectively, the presented methodology could be an important management tool for monitoring the herbaceous biomass amounts in a given shrubland. © 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Mor-Mussery A.,Judea Research and Development Center | Leu S.,Judea Research and Development Center | Leu S.,Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research | Budovsky A.,Judea Research and Development Center
Journal of Arid Environments | Year: 2013

Silvopasture, the planting of suitable tree species in pastures, can improve the sustainability and productivity especially in dry rangelands. While recent studies provide information on the effects of different tree compositions on biological productivity, water and soil protection, additional parameters such as fodder production by the trees or the impact of silvopasture on the grazing potential themselves have rarely been addressed. We determined fodder production in Acacia victoriae woodland and savanna by measuring annual vegetation and tree biomass growth. We developed mathematical models for calculating the vegetative biomass available for grazing. In order to get accurate estimation for the grazing capacity, we differentiated between the grazing and the browsing fodder availability, and adapted the model to the most abundant grazers in the Negev, goats and sheep. Grazing capacity for sheep and goats was twice bigger in A. victoriae woodland than in the adjacent sustainably managed shrubland and four times higher than in degraded shrubland. The mathematical model presented in this paper can be applied in order to plan and realize high yielding and sustainable silvopasture in arid environments resistant to degradation and desertification while providing adequate fodder reserves during drought years. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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