Sensitivity of a Sandy Area to Climate Change Along a Rainfall Gradient at a Desert Fringe

  • A. Yair
  • M. Veste
  • R. Almog
  • S. -W. Breckle
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 200)

Global climate change has become a strongly and frequently addressed issue in the last decades. The aspect is crucial in dry-land areas, which cover approximately one third of the globe's total land area. The relationship between average annual rainfall and environmental variables has attracted the attention of many scientists. Climatologists use aridity indices to express relationships between climatic and environmental variables (Köppen 1931; Budyko 1974; Wallen 1967; Bailey 1979). These indices, based on purely climatic variables such as annual precipitation, temperature, evaporation and radiation, tend to imply that the acuteness of aridity is inversely related to annual precipitation. Although aware that soil water content depends on local soil type and precipitation regime, Walter (1939, 1960) asserted that at a larger, global scale, standing biomass is positively correlated to average annual rainfall. This approach is still followed by many researchers who assume a positive relationship between average annual rainfall and environmental variables such as water availability for plants, vegetation cover, productivity, species diversity, soil properties, human activity, and erosion rates for sub-humid to arid areas (Issar and Bruins 1983; Shmida 1985; Seely 1991; Lavee et al. 1991; Kutiel et al. 2000; Meron et al. 2004). This approach is certainly correct at the global scale, as well as for non-irrigated annual crops in dry-land areas. It is, however, questionable for arid and semi-arid areas, usually regarded as highly sensitive to climate change, especially for perennial plants.


Average Annual Rainfall Biological Soil Crust Runoff Generation Sandy Area Rainfall Gradient 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Almog R, Yair A (2007) Negative and positive effects of topsoil biological crusts on water availability along a rainfall gradient in a sandy arid area. Catena 70:437–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Avnimelech Y, Nevo Z (1964) Biological clogging of sands. Soil Sci 98:222–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey HP (1979) Semi-arid climates: their definition and distribution. In: Hall AE, Cannell GH, Lawton HE (eds) Agriculture in semi-arid environments. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 73–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barour MG, Burk JH, Pitts WD (1987) Terrestrial plant ecology. Benjamin Cummings, Menlo Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  5. Bauer HL (1943) The statistical analysis of chaparral and other plant communities by means of transect sampling. Ecology 24:45–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bond RD (1964) The influence of microflora on physical properties of sand. Effects associated with filamentous algae and fungi. Austr J Soil Res 2:123–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Booth WE (1941) Algae as pioneers in plant succession and their importance in erosion control. Ecology 22:38–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Budyko MI (1974) Climate and life. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  9. Dekker LW, Jungerius PD (1990) Water repellency in the dunes with special reference to the Netherlands dunes of the European coast. Catena suppl 18:173–183Google Scholar
  10. Eldridge DE, Tozer ME (1997) A practical guide to soil lichens and bryophytes of Australia’s dry country. Department of Land and Water Conservation, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  11. Holling CS (1983) Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu Rev Ecol Systems 4:10–23Google Scholar
  12. Issar A, Bruins HJ (1983) Special conditions in the deserts of Sinai and the Negev during the latest Pleistocene. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 42:63–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jeltsch F, Milton SJ, Dean WRJ, von Rooyen N (1997) Analysing shrub encroachment in the southern Kalahari: a grid-based modeling approach. J Appl Ecol 34:1497–1508CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kent M, Coker P (1992) Vegetation description and analysis–A practical approach. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Kidron GJ (1995) The impact of microbial crusts upon runoff-sediment yield relationships on longitudinal dune slopes, Nizzana, Western Negev, Israel (in Hebrew with English summary). PhD Thesis, The Hebrew University of JerusalemGoogle Scholar
  16. Kidron GJ, Yair A (1997) Rainfall-runoff relationships over encrusted dune surfaces, Nizzana, Western Negev, Israel. Earth Surface Processes Landforms 2:1169–1184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Köppen W (1931) Grundriss der Klimakunde. Gruyter, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  18. Kutiel P, Kutiel H, Lavee H (2000) Vegetation response to possible scenarios of rainfall variation along a Mediterranean–extreme arid climatic transect. J Arid Environ 44:277–290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lavee H, Imeson Ac, Pariente P, Benyamini Y (1991) The response of soils to simulated rainfall along a climatological gradient in an arid and semi-arid region. Catena suppl 19:19–37Google Scholar
  20. Loope WI, Gifford GF (1972) Influence of a soil micofloral crust on selected properties of soils under pinyon-juniper in southeastern Utah. J Soil Water Conserv 28:27–52Google Scholar
  21. Meron E, Gilad E, von Hardenberg J, Schachak M, Zarmi Y (2004) Vegetation patterns along a rainfall gradient. Chaos Solitons Fractals 19:367–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Perez FL (1997) Microbiotic crusts in the high equatorial Andes and their influence on Paramo soils. Catena 31:173–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Roberts FG, Carson BA (1971) Water repellence in sandy soils of southwestern Australia. Austr J Soil Res 10:35–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Schlesinger WH, Reynolds JF, Cunningham GL, Huenneke LF, Jarrell RA et al. (1990) Biological feedbacks in global desertification. Science 247:1043–1048PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Seely MK (1991) Sand dunes communities. In: Polis GA (ed) The ecology of desert communities. University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AR, pp 348–382Google Scholar
  26. Shmida A (1985) Endemic plants of Israel (in Hebrew). Rotem, Bull Israel Plant Centre 3:3–47Google Scholar
  27. Thiery RG (1982) Environmental stability and community diversity. Biol Rev 57:691–710CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Veste M, Eggert K, Breckle SW, Littmann T (2005) Vegetation entlang eines geo-ökologischen Gradienten in der Negev. In: Veste M, Wissel C (Hrsg) Beiträge zur Vegetationsökologie der Trockengebiete und Desertifikation. UFZ Bericht 1/2005, Leipzig, pp 65–81Google Scholar
  29. Wallen CC (1967) Aridity definitions and their applicability. Geogr Ann A 49:367–384CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Walter H (1939) Grasland, Savanne und Busch der ariden Teile Afrikas in ihrer ökologischen Bedingtheit. Jahrb wiss Bot 87:750–860Google Scholar
  31. Walter H (1960) Grundlagen der Pflanzenverbreitung. I. Standortslehre. Einführung in die Phytologie III/1. Ulmer, StuttgartGoogle Scholar
  32. Wiens AJ (1985) Vertebrate responses to environmental patchiness in arid and semiarid ecosystems. In: Pickett STA, White PS (eds) The ecology of natural disturbance and patch dynamics. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Yair A (1983) Hillslope hydrology, water harvesting and areal distribution of some ancient agricultural systems in the northern Negev desert. J Arid Environ 6:283–301Google Scholar
  34. Yair A (1990) Runoff generation in a sandy area; the Nizzana sands, Western Negev, Israel. Earth Surface Processes Landforms 15:597–609CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yair A (1994) The ambiguous impact of climate change at a desert fringe: Northern Negev, Israel. In: Millington AC, Pye K (eds) Environmental change in drylands. Wiley, Chichester, pp 199–226Google Scholar
  36. Yair A (1999) Spatial variability in the runoff generated in small arid watersheds: implications for water harvesting. In: Hoekstra TM, Shachak M (eds) Arid lands management: toward ecological sustainability. University of Illinois Press, Chicago, IL, pp 212–222Google Scholar
  37. Yair A (2001) Effects of biological soil crusts on water redistribution in the Negev Desert, Israel: a case study in longitudinal dunes. In: Belnap J, Lange OL (eds) Biological soil crusts: structure, function, and management. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 303–314Google Scholar
  38. Yair A, Bryan RB (2000) Hydrological response of desert margins to climatic change: the effect of changing surface properties. In: McLaren SJ, Kniveton DR (eds) Linking climate change to land surface change. Kluwer, London, pp 49–63Google Scholar
  39. Yair A, Danin A (1980) Spatial variations in vegetation as related to the soil moisture regime over an arid limestone hillside, northern Negev, Israel. Oecologia 47:83–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Yair A, Shachak M (1987) Studies in watershed ecology of an arid area. In: Berkofsky L, Wurtele G (eds) Progress in desert research. Rowman and Littlefield, Totowa, NJ, pp 45–93Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Yair
    • M. Veste
      • R. Almog
        • S. -W. Breckle

          There are no affiliations available

          Personalised recommendations