Climatic Change

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 227–243 | Cite as

The resilience of annual vegetation primary production subjected to different climate change scenarios

  • Rakefet Shafran-Nathan
  • Tal Svoray
  • Avi Perevolotsky


We examined if climate change in two dry ecosystems—Mediterranean (DME) and Semiarid (SAE)—would cause substantial reduction in the production of annual vegetation. Field measurements and computer simulations were used to examine the following six climate change scenarios: (1) rainfall amount reduction; (2) increases of 10 % in annual evaporation rate and 5 % in annual temperature; (3) increase in magnitude of rainfall events, accompanied by reductions in frequency and seasonal variation; (4) postponement of the beginning of the first rainfall event of the growing season; (5) long dry spells during the growing season; and (6) early ending of the growing season. The results revealed the following outcomes. a) Reduction by 5–35 % in annual rainfall amount did not significantly affect productivity in the DME, but a large (25–35 %) decrease in rainfall would change vegetation productivity in the SAE and lead to a patchier environment. b) Similar results were observed: when temperature and evaporation rate were increased; when the magnitude of rainfall events increased but their frequency decreased; and during a long mid-season dry spell. c) In both ecosystems, changes in the temporal distribution of rainfall, especially at the beginning of the season, caused the largest reduction in productivity, accompanied by increased patchiness. d) Long-term data gathered during the last three decades indicated that both environments exhibited high resilience of productivity under rainfall variability. These results imply that the response of dry ecosystems to climate change is not characterized by a dramatic decrease in productivity. Moreover, these ecosystems are more resilient than expected, and their herbaceous productivity might undergo drastic changes only under more severe scenarios than those currently predicted in the literature.


Rainfall Event Rainfall Amount Ecosystem Resilience Rainfall Reduction Annual Rainfall Amount 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No. 692/06), the Advisory Board of Range Management of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (grant No. 857049407), the Jewish National Fund (KKL) and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection (grant No. 5-021). Thanks are extended to the Department of Agronomy and Natural Resources of the Volcani Center for sharing with us the biomass and climatologic databases. We thank Rafi Yonathan, Dani Barkai, Hagit Baram and the Ben-Gurion University GILab members for their help with field work in the Lehavim LTER. We appreciate the help of Zalmen Henkin and his team, Amit Dolev and Yehuda Yehuda, with the field work in the Korazim site.

Supplementary material

10584_2012_614_MOESM1_ESM.doc (238 kb)
Online Resource 1 (DOC 238 kb)
10584_2012_614_MOESM2_ESM.doc (31 kb)
Online Resource 2 (DOC 31 kb)
10584_2012_614_MOESM3_ESM.doc (66 kb)
Online Resource 3 (DOC 65.5 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rakefet Shafran-Nathan
    • 1
  • Tal Svoray
    • 1
  • Avi Perevolotsky
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental DevelopmentBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.Department of Agronomy and Natural ResourcesThe Volcani CenterBet DaganIsrael

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