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Plant assemblage and diversity variation with human disturbances in coastal habitats of the western Arabian Gulf

Abstract

Knowledge about plant diversity along disturbance gradients is essential for conservation and management of fragmented coastal habitats. This study examined the effects of human disturbance intensity in coastal habitats of Kuwait on diversity, composition, identity and assemblage of vascular plant species. Plant survey data from 113 plots (5 m×5 m each) were randomly selected in 51 sites at coastal fragmented habitats at three levels of disturbance intensities (high, moderate and low) and were statistically analyzed. The results revealed that about 76% of the recorded species are considered threatened species in Kuwait, most of which are being lost in high disturbed habitats. Disturbance led to the dominance of Zygophyllum qatarense, Cornulaca aucheri and Salsola imbricata, which are species of disturbance indicators. Richness, total plant cover and species diversity were higher in moderate and low disturbed habitats than in high disturbed habitats. Beta diversity between high and low disturbed habitats was higher than either between high and moderate, or between moderate and low disturbed habitats. Cluster analyses showed statistically significant differences in composition of plant assemblages, which indicate high beta diversity between the habitat types. Intensive urbanization and industrialization are among the most serious threats that contribute to declines in biological diversity and rapid fragmentation of coastal habitats in Kuwait. Establishing protective enclosures in the disturbed habitats, planting endangered and vulnerable species, and establishing a natural reserve at Nuwaiseeb are recommended conservation actions to avoid loss of the fragmented coastal habitats and to facilitate restoration of native plants.

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Correspondence to Raafat H. Abd El-Wahab.

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Abd El-Wahab, R.H. Plant assemblage and diversity variation with human disturbances in coastal habitats of the western Arabian Gulf. J. Arid Land 8, 787–798 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-016-0084-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40333-016-0084-x

Keywords

  • plant diversity
  • disturbance gradient
  • threatened species
  • habitat fragmentation
  • coastal habitat
  • salt marsh restoration