Flora richness as an indicator of desert habitat quality in Kuwait

Yahya Al-Shehabi, Kevin Murphy

Abstract


An assessment of the vegetation in the arid desert habitats of Kuwait was carried out in 2008 and 2009.  The richness of vegetation was examined in relation to human activity (e.g., grazing, recreational camping) and impact factors in two open areas (north of SAANR, NS; south of Kabd, SK) were compared with two protected areas (SAANR, Kabd).  In total, 420 quadrats were sampled along 84 transects at random locations along off-road vehicle tracks in the study area.  The data were classified using two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) to divide samples into three groups of high internal similarity in terms of plant species presence.  Total plant species richness was 20, 35, 2 and 17 species per area in SAANR, Kabd, NS and SK, respectively.  Compared to protected areas, open grazed land had markedly fewer species and reduced vegetation cover in the form of grasses, forbs and shrubs.  Habitat conditions were especially impoverished in NS, with 99% of samples supporting only one plant species.  The low plant diversity in the unprotected open rangelands demonstrates the need for a new strategy to rehabilitate ecological habitats.


Keywords


Biodiversity; camping; desertification; grazing; protected area; rangeland.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.11609/jott.3364.9.2.9777-9785

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