, Volume 54, Issue 3, pp 389–397 | Cite as

A case study of energy, water and soil flow chains in an arid ecosystem

  • A. Yair
  • M. Shachak


Little attention has been directed to the study of soil flow and the complex relationships among energy water and soil flow in terrestrial ecosystems. Soil plays an important role in arid ecosystems. After water soil is the second key factor in the development of an arid ecosystem since soil is the only part of the system capable of absorbing and storing water and nutrients during the hot and long summer period. The present work presents a case study of an ecological soil flow chain in an arid environment and analyses the relationship between this chain and the energy and water flow chains. The study was conducted at the Sde Boqer experiment site located in the northern Negev of Israel where average annual rainfall is 92 mn. Data collected during five consecutive years show that the soil movement process within the ecosystem studied cannot be considered as a purely physical phenomenon, but rather as a part of a complex system in which the burrowing and digging activity of Isopods and Porcupines plays an important role by providing disaggregated soil particles easy to remove by shallow flows. Although controlled by the spatial distribution of soil moisture the biological activity acts as a regulator of soil depth and thus of soil moisture. If this regulating role is deleted from the system a new ecosystem, more arid, can be expected to develop. It is therefore concluded that the study of state and flow variables of an arid ecosystem should consider altogether the water, soil, energy and mineral chains.


Soil Moisture Water Soil Soil Depth Terrestrial Ecosystem Experiment Site 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Yair
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Shachak
    • 3
  1. 1.Institue of Earth SciencesThe Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Watershed Ecology Unit. Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen Gurion UniversityIsrael
  3. 3.Watershed Ecology Unit, Blaustein Institute for Desert Research and Biology DepartmentBen Gurion UniversityIsrael

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