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Vegetation and Soil Conditions of Phytogenic Mounds in Subiya Area Northeast of Kuwait

By Doaa Medany on June 16,2011


Raafat H. Abd El-Wahab1,2* and Ahmad R. Al-Rashed2

1Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Suez Canal University, Ismailia 41522, Egypt

2Science Department, Faculty of Basic Education, Public Authority for Applied Education and Training


Phytogenic mounds, nabkas, or hillocks are stabilized dunes formed around many perennial plants growing in desert and salt marsh, sabkha, habitats. The present study aims to analyze the vegetation structure and soil conditions of phytogenic mounds formed around two dominant perennial plants; Haloxylon salicornicum representing desert Nabkas and Nitraria retusa representing sabkha nabkas. Twenty sites were randomly chosen in the study area for vegetation measurements, soil sampling, and human activities description. Fifty surface soil samples were taken from the phytogenic mounds and interspaces for physical and chemical analysis. Signs of human impacts in the study area were also considered. Nabkas play crucial roles in soil fixation and limiting dunes migration. They are considered islands of fertile soil that are richer in organic matter, and silt and clay contents than soils of the interspaces. In addition, phytogenic mounds provide important niches for many types of animals and birds. Climatic conditions, soil salinity, and soil fine fractions are the main environmental gradients controlling the distribution of Haloxylon salicornicum and Nitraria retusa. Human impacts are the main threats affecting the health and abundance of phytogenic mounds causing land degradation and species loss. Management and conservation plan for phytogenic mounds should rely on the understanding of the potential and status of the vegetation structure and soil conditions.

Keywords: Coastal habitats, Human impacts; phytogenic mounds; salt marshes; vegetation; Size structure; Kuwait.

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