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image of Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

Changes in vegetation following protection from grazing were observed at two sites in semiarid rangelands in Israel with a long history of continuous grazing by sheep and goats. Near Jerusalem, a new exclosure was fenced off; the changes in biomass and species composition within this exclosure, in comparison with an adjacent grazed area, were followed for two growing seasons. The vegetation was initially dominated by Poa bulbosa and prostrate annuals. For most of the first growing season, there was surprisingly little difference in biomass and species composition. During the dry season, plant litter and seeds remained largely intact on the surface in the exclosure, but were almost entirely removed by grazers outside it. During the second growing season, biomass in the exclosure was usually double that outside; the increase was mostly due to large-seeded annual grasses. Near Beer Sheva, the effects on the vegetation of 5–6 years of protection from grazing were recorded at two exclosure fences. Annuals were equally sparse on both sides of the fence, though species composition was different. The biomass of perennials was double inside the exclosure, mainly due to an increase in the biomass of Noaea mucronata and perennial thistles. Most perennial species, except Asphodelus aestivus, were more abundant inside the exclosure than in the grazed area.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Botany, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; 2: Golan Research Institute


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