Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 585–616 | Cite as

Plant species distribution and spatial habitat heterogeneity in the landscape of urbanizing desert ecosystems in Egypt

  • Monier Abd El-GhaniEmail author
  • Reinhard Bornkamm
  • Nadia El-Sawaf
  • Hamdiya Turky


Information on the urban flora and vegetation in the industrial new cities in Egypt are insufficient and far from complete. For this reason, this study was undertaken as the first attempt to fill this gap of knowledge. For two successive years (2004 and 2005), a reconnaissance survey was conducted in four new industrial cities: 6th October, El-Sadat, Burg El-Arab and 10th Ramadan; aiming at: (1) recognizing the floristic composition and vegetation structure of each of the studied cities; (2) identifying the main urban habitats dominating the studied cities; (3) comparing the vegetation of the urban habitats at the boundaries of each city, where desert soil merges gradually with the agricultural land, with that at its centre (purely agricultural land); and (4) analyzing, quantitatively, the vegetation groups (plant communities) that characterize the urban habitats. A total of 189 permanent stands in the four cities were selected to represent the apparent variation in the different habitats. These stands were distributed as follows: 49 in 6th October, 37 in El-Sadat, 45 in Burg El-Arab, and 58 in 10th Ramadan. Altogether, 305 species of the vascular plants constituted the main synanthropic flora and the total number of species varied from 171 in Burg El-Arab, 157 in 10th Ramadan, 144 in Sadat and 132 to 6th October. The largest families that formed the main bulk of the recorded flora were Gramineae, Compositae, Leguminosae, followed by Euphorbiaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Cruciferae, Cyperaceae, Umbelliferae and Solanaceae. Five main urban habitats (from inner city toward outskirts) were distinguished: lawns, home gardens, public gardens, waste lands and desert outskirts. The most species-rich habitat was the waste lands (172 species), while the total number of species varied from 104 in the lawns and 113 home gardens, to 123 in the desert and 133 in the public gardens. Generally, the recorded synanthropic flora within the five main urban habitats can be classified into: (1) cultivated plant species that included ornamentals, hedges, shade plants, fodder plants, vegetables and fruits; (2) canal banks, salinized areas and wetland plants; (3) xerophytic plants of the outskirting desert; and (4) weeds of arable lands. Application of multivariate analyses techniques to 4 floristic data matrices yielded 22 TWINSPAN vegetation groups in the cities, and 26 in the five habitats, clearly separated along the first two axes of DCA.


Floristic composition Synanthropic flora Anthropogenic habitats Urban flora Egypt Ruderal vegetation TWINSPAN DCA 



We thank two anonymous reviewers for their keen revision and helpful comments and suggestions on a first draft of this paper. The first author (M.M. Abd El-Ghani) wishes to express his deep gratitude to the authorities of Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung (Germany) for their support during his stay in Berlin. My colleagues at the Institute of Ecology, Technical University in Berlin are greatly acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monier Abd El-Ghani
    • 1
    Email author
  • Reinhard Bornkamm
    • 2
  • Nadia El-Sawaf
    • 1
  • Hamdiya Turky
    • 1
  1. 1.Botany Department, Faculty of ScienceCairo UniversityGizaEgypt
  2. 2.Institute of EcologyTechnical University BerlinBerlinGermany

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