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Plant communities and reproductive phenology in mountainous regions of northern Libya

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Abstract

Within the semi-desert landscape of northern Libya, two sub-humid escarpments occur: Al-Akhdar in the east and Nafusa (Jabal Al-Gharbi) in the west. This study compares plant communities in the two regions, which are along an elevation gradient, in terms of species composition and diversity, frequency of different Raunkiaer life forms, and reproductive phenology. The two regions differed in species composition and life-form frequency between regions and between elevation zones within each region. Patterns were associated with the lower rainfall and lower moisture-holding capacity of soils at Nafusa, resulting in more xeric conditions. Only 13% of species were shared between the two regional landscapes. Species diversity, life-form frequency, and duration of the flowering–fruiting phenophase were all affected by elevation above sea level. The duration of flowering and fruiting in spring and fall was associated with environmental conditions, although there were different thresholds in the two regions. There was both a spring and fall episode of flowering at Nafusa, but only spring flowering at Al-Akhdar. It is anticipated that there will be a gradual shift of plant communities to higher elevations and loss of certain sensitive species in response to ongoing climate change.

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Correspondence to Ahmad K. Hegazy.

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Project funding: The project was funded by Libyan Missions Department and Cairo University.

The online version is available at http://www.springerlink.com.

Corresponding editor: Hu Yanbo

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Hegazy, A.K., Kabiel, H.F., Al-Rowaily, S.L. et al. Plant communities and reproductive phenology in mountainous regions of northern Libya. J. For. Res. 28, 741–761 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-016-0345-8

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