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Ben Gurion University of the Negev (2010)

Dune management and reptiles : implications for habitat reconstuction and conservation strategies

Shacham, Boaz

Titre : Dune management and reptiles : implications for habitat reconstuction and conservation strategies

Auteur : Shacham, Boaz

Etablissement de soutenance : Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2010

Résumé partiel
The Mediterranean coastal sand dunes of Israel comprise a locally and globally unique ecosystem, the arid aeolian soil enables numerous Saharan taxa to penetrate northward, in spite of the temperate climate. Many endemic taxa, mainly of plants and invertebrates, have evolved locally in the habitats along the coast. Over the last six decades, Israel’s coastal sands have been heavily developed, reducing the intact habitats from 462 km2 at the start of the 20th century to about 250 km2 presently, of these less than half are statutory-protected. Of the many threats looming over the survival of these sands, probably the most serious is dune stabilization. The major factor causing dune stabilization has been shown to be the cessation of traditional “Mawasi” farming and goat grazing since the 1950’s, which in the past maintained unstabilized dunes. Analyses of aerial photos of Nizzanim dunes, in the southern coastal plain, showed drastic changes over the last 40 years in vegetation cover of the study area, with 82% increase in stabilized dunes and 37% decrease in active (unstabilized) dunes. Extrapolation of current vegetation change trends predicts that Nizzanim sands will become stabilized dunes (>60% cover) within 30 years, unless active management is applied. Sand stabilization causes local extinction of desert specialist species by generalist species. Partial vegetation removal has experimentally succeeded in rehabilitating psammophilic rodent communities in central coastal Israel (Park Ha-Sharon), and is currently being tested as a practical solution to stabilization at Nizzanim. This dissertation presents the results of my study regarding the effects of partial vegetation removal from stabilized dunes on reptiles in Nizzanim sands, Israel. I worked within a long-term multi-disciplinary project at Nizzanim (other teams study invertebrates, rodents and plants), aimed mainly to assess management tools for sustaining unique coastal sands biota. The main goals of my study were threefold : [1] to describe the reptile assemblages present on naturally occurring dune types ; [2] to describe the effects of partial vegetation removal on reptile assemblages ; and [3] to draw operational and conceptual conclusions and recommendations for future monitoring and study of the reptiles in the Nizzanim project and elsewhere. The latter goal included comparison among several treatment regimes for manipulation of dune vegetation, identification of effective indicator species among the reptiles, and integration and analysis of several sampling methods I had used for data collection.

Mots clés : Sand dune conservation — Israel ; Habitat conservation — Israel ; Restoration ecology — Israel ; Reptiles — Israel — Habitat ; Desert ecology — Israel — Case studies

Présentation (BGU)

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Page publiée le 2 avril 2015, mise à jour le 21 novembre 2018