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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Major Mediterranean vegetation types of California and Israel were compared. These included woodland, matorral, phrygana, montane belts, riparian, and ecotones with the desert. Major differences in life form spectra, physiognomy, species richness, fire adaptations, leaf traits, the altitudinal sequence of montane belts and floras were summarized. In some cases it was possible to speculate that differences in the above traits are correlated with differences in climate, soil, fire frequency and human history. The matorral (chaparral, maquis) was emphasized. In comparison to Israel, California matorral is shorter in stature, has a more complete canopy closure, is richer in woody taxa and poorer in herbaceous taxa, has fewer deciduous elements, exhibits more specialized adaptations to fue, is under-represented in retamoid species and has a more spinescent overstorey but a less spinescent understorey of associated chamaephytes and hemi-cryptophytes. In California, the matorral continues through the montane belt to the subalpine one, but in the eastern Mediterranean it is restricted to the colline (foothill) belt and is replaced in the montane by deciduous forest. It is postulated that the differences in vegetation between California and Israel are due in part to the contemporary difference in their climate, but also to differences in their paleoecology.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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