, Volume 75, Issue 1, pp 61–66 | Cite as

Decomposition process in Negev ecosystems

  • Y. Steinberger
  • W. G. Whitford
Original Papers


The effects of supplemental water and natural rainfall on decomposition were studied in the Negev Highland desert, Israel. There was a mass loss of approximately 40% in Hammada scoparia leaves and Salsola inermis litter placed on the soil surface and buried in fine mesh bags. There was an annual mass loss of 80% in S. inermis litter buried in large fiberglass mesh bags. Supplemental water provided during the wet season (January to March) did not result in more rapid decomposition of litter of the annual grass Stipa capensis but irrigation during the dry season (August to September) produced a marked increase in the decomposition rate of S. capensis. These data suggest that rain events, not water quantity, are the most important regulators of decomposition in the Negev. Annual rates of decomposition were higher than predicted by models utilizing actual evapotranspiration and lignin content as regulating variables. Rates of decomposition were equal to those reported for tropical wet forests.

Key words

Hammada scoparia Salsola inermis Decomposition Negev desert Water amendment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Steinberger
    • 1
  • W. G. Whitford
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat-GanIsrael
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNew Mexico State UniversityLas CrucesUSA

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