Impact of biotic and abiotic factors on understory biomass and species richness in Aleppo pine forests of the northern Negev

Plant biodiversity in Mediterranean forests is represented by their understory vegetation, which contains both woody species and annuals. This work focused on forests planted in Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) in the transition zone between the Mediterranean area and the desert area. This region is characterized by its high plant species richness, but Aleppo pines are not part of the natural vegetation in this area and their effect on the local vegetation remains unclear. The main goal of this study was to characterize richness and cover of understory vegetation in pine forests of southern Israel, and to examine abiotic and biotic factors that control understory parameters. This study was carried out in two forests, in the Lachish area, Amatzya forest (400 mm precipitation), and in the south Hebron mountains, Yatir forest (280 mm). These are mature forests, in which Aleppo pine is a planted species that was introduced into the habitat. Study plots were selected on north and south aspects, and varied in tree density. Data collection included canopy, understory and soil variables. Multivariance analysis was performed to find connections between species distribution and environmental factors that might explain its variation.

Tamar Amit (MSc student)

Partner organizations:
KKL – Jewish National Fund