Flora richness as an indicator of desert habitat quality in Kuwait

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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.

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Author Biographies

Yahya Al-Shehabi, Head of Protected Areas, Environment Public Authority, Shuwaikh, Kuwait

Dr. Yahya Al-Shehabi, received a PhD award from University of Glasgow, United Kingdom on 2012 in Ecology and Environmental Biology. Worked as a supervisor of Jahra Pool Reserve Kuwait National Park (recently named Sabah Al-Ahmed Natural reserve). Currently is a Head of Natural Protected Area Section in Environment Public Authority since 2010. Also, he works as a part-time lecturer at the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training. Generally he is interested in studying wild life species, especially animal behavior, conducting bird census and plant survey

Kevin Murphy, College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences, Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Dr. Kevin Murphy, who retired in 2013 from his position as senior lecturer in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine, inspired the naming of Actinellopsis murphyi gen. et spec. nov.‌ Writing on the discovery in the journal Phytotaxa, the authors, led by Dr. Jonathan Taylor of North-West University in South Africa, note that they named the small-celled diatom ‘to honour [Dr. Murphy’s] contributions to the extension of the knowledge of the Zambian fauna and flora.’ 


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