Flora richness as an indicator of desert habitat quality in Kuwait

Yahya Al-Shehabi, Kevin Murphy


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.


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

Full Text:



Abbas, J.A. & F.A. Saleh (2002). Medicinal Plants of Bahrain. University of Bahrain, Kingdom of Bahrain, 290pp.

Al-Awadhi, J.M., R.F. Misak & S.A. Omar (2003). Causes and sequences of desertification in Kuwait: a case study of land degradation. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment 62: 107–115; http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10064-002-0175-0

Boulos, L. & M. Al-Dosari (1994). Checklist of the flora of Kuwait. The Journal of the University of Kuwait 21: 203–218; http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076588

Bowers, M.A. (1987). Precipitation and the relative abundance of desert winter annuals: a six year study in the northern Mojave desert. Journal of Arid Environments 12: 141–149.

Brown, G. (2003). Species Richness, Diversity and Biomass Production of Desert Annuals in an ungrazed Rhanterium epapposum community over Three Growth Seasons in Kuwait. Plant Ecology 165: 53–68; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jare.2001.0880

Brown, G. & S. Porembski (1997). The maintenance of species diversity by miniature dunes in a sand-depleted Haloxylon salicornicum community in Kuwait. Journal of Arid Environments 37: 461–473; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jare.1997.0286

Daoud, H.S. & A. Al-Rawi (1985). The Flora of Kuwait: Dicotyledoneae. Volume 1. KPI Publishers, London.

Dickson, V. (1955). The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain. Allen and Unwin, UK, 120pp.

El-Sheikh, M. & G. Abbadi (2004). Biodiversity of plant Communities in the Jal Az-Zor National Park, Kuwait. Kuwait Journal of Science & Engineering 31: 77–105.

El-Shora, H. & R. Jasim (1996). Ecological Science and Desert Plants. Science Department, Faculty of Fundamental Education, Kuwait, 320pp.

Environment Public Authority (2003). The Environmental Strategy of the State of Kuwait. Part I. Al Riyadi Press, Kuwait, 682pp.

Halwagy, R. & M. Halwagy (1974). Ecological studies on the desert of Kuwait. II. The Vegetation. Journal of The University of Kuwait (Sci.) 1: 87–95.

Kassas, M. & M. Imam (1954). Habitat and plant communities in the Egyptian Desert. III. The wadi-bed ecosystem. Journal of Ecology 42: 424-441.

Kernick M.D. (1966). Plant resources, range ecology and fodder plant introduction. Report to the Government of Kuwait. FAO, TA 181. Memo. 14pp.

Khalaf, F.I. & D. Al-Ajmi (1993). Aeolian processes and sand encroachment problems in Kuwait. Geomorphology 6: 111–134; http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0169-555X(93)90042-Z

Le HoueHrou, H.N. (1996). Climate change, drought and desertification. Journal of Arid Environments 34: 133–185; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jare.1996.0099

Omar, S.A., Y. Al-Mutawa & S. Zaman (2000). Vegetation of Kuwait: A Comprehensive Illustrative Guide to the Flora and Ecology of the Desert of Kuwait. 1st Edition. KISR, Kuwait, 159pp.

Omar, S.A., Y. Al-Mutawa & S. Zaman (2005). Vegetation of Kuwait: A Comprehensive Illustrative Guide to the Flora and Ecology of the Desert of Kuwait. 2nd Edition. KISR, Kuwait, 163pp.

Omar, S.A. & N.R. Bhat (2008). Alteration of the Rhanterium epapposum plant community in Kuwait and restoration measures. International Journal of Environmental Studies 65(1): 139–155; http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207230701823332

Omar, S.A., R. Misak, P. King, S. Shahid, H. Abo-Rizq, G. Grealish & W. Roy (2001). Mapping the vegetation of Kuwait through reconnaissance soil survey. Journal of Arid Environments 48: 341–355; http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/jare.2000.0740

Went, F.W. (1955). The ecology of desert plants. Scientific American 192: 68–75.

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


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 Yahya Al-Shehabi, Kevin Murphy

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The Journal of Threatened Taxa is an open access and print, peer-reviewed, monthly, international journal on conservation and taxonomy. The aim of the Journal is to promote wildlife research and conservation action worldwide at no cost to authors, no subscription or membership cost, and no hidden cost, on a regular basis without compromising on ethics, standards and pre-requisites of scientific publications.

This site is run on the Open Journal System (OJS).   This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.