Ecology Dr. Saeed Damhoureyeh




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Biogeography of Jordan


Several authors divided Jordan into different bioclimatic or biogeographical regions (Kasapligil, 1956; Long, 1957; Zohary, 1962; Poore and Robertson, 1964; Bekok, 1971; Madany, 1978 and Al-Eisawi, 1985). The whole of Jordan forms a Mediterranean region and it's characterized by the Eastern Mediterranean climate, which has a mild and moderately rainy winter and a hot rainless summer. However, spring and autumn do not have specific entity. Al-Eisawi (1985) indicated the presence of nine bioclimatic subdivisions in Jordan.




  • Mediterranean

This region is restricted to the highlands of Jordan extending from Irbid in the north to Ras-Naqp in the south. The altitude ranges from 700-1750 m above sea level. The rainfall ranges from 300-600 mm. The minimal annual temperature ranges from 5-10° C and the mean maximal annual temperature from 15-20° C.
Soil Type is (Terra Rosa) and the yellow Mediterranean soil (Rendzina). This region comprises the most fertile part of Jordan and presents the best climate for the Forest ecosystem.


  • Irano-Turanian

It is phytogeographically a narrow strip of variable width that surrounds Mediterranean ecozone except at the north. It is characterized by being a timberless land since it has no forest cover. The vegetation is mainly of small shrubs and bushes

i.e.: Anabsis syriaca, Artemisia herba-alba.
The Irano-Turanian region is indistinguishable zoogeographically from other bioclimatic ecozones. In Jordan it is a transitional zone between the Mediterranean ecozone and the surrounding ecozones. This ecozone does not have its own entity since it does not posses specific fauna as other ecozones in Jordan. None of the species is restricted to this region, and all the species found here originally came from the surrounding ecozones. Moreover, the width of this region varies from year to year in relation to the amount of rain. Saint Girons (1982) indicated that zoogeographically the Irano-Turanian zone in Palestine is of disputed validity.
Altitudes usually range from 500-700 m, and rainfall ranges from 150-300 mm. The mean minimal annual temperature ranges from 5-2° C and the mean maximal annual temperature from 15-25° C. Soil is mostly calcareous or transported by wind. Vegetation is mostly dominated by chamaephytes.



  • Eastern Desert or “ Badia ”

Some authors refer to it as Saharo-Arabian ecozone. This ecozone forms most of the territory of Jordan.

The annual rainfall in the northern part is around 100 mm. The soil is very poor which results in poor vegetation, and most of the vegetation cover is in the wadies (Al-Eisawi, 1985). In the southern part the annual rainfall is around 50mm, and the similarity in soil types, climatic conditions and the fauna with Wadi Araba is well noted. Ecologically these two regions in addition to the southern Edom Mountains are grouped together.

Azraq Oasis and Shaumari Wildlife reserve are part of the Eastern Desert. Both area form a center for migratory birds and have several Mediterranean species. Natrix tessellata, Malpolon mospessulanus and Chamaeleo chameleons. Also, this indicated that the Irano-Turanian ecozone is passageway between the Mediterranean ecozone and the surrounding zones.
Arnd (1987) indicated that the oases in Saudi Arabia have mesic species which we relict of populations and were widespread during the pluvial phases of the Quaternary.

the Arabic term for northeastern desert is “ Badia ” which is a more appropriate term than desert, because it is capable of supporting vegetation and animal life, and that the limiting factor here is rainfall.

This region comprises the largest part of Jordan encompassing almost 80% of the total area. It is characterized as flat, except for few hills or small mountains, the result of volcanic eruptions.

Altitude ranges between 500-700 m, yet there are recorded few places on the northeastern borders of Jordan which reach 1,200 m.


The mean annual rainfall ranges from 50-200 mm, mean annual minimal temperature ranges from 5-15° C and the mean annual maximum temperature ranges from 15-2° C. Soil is mostly poor of either clay, Hammada, saline, sandy or calcareous.
Vegetation is dominated by small shrubs and small annuals located in wadi beds.


  • Sudanian

Some authors refer to this region as the “sub-tropical” or “ Afro-tropical ” region. It starts at Al-Karamah in the north and continues to the south the Dead Sea depression and Wadi Araba, which end at the tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Moreover, this ecozone includes the southern Jordan and southern Edom Mountains. The vegetation is related to tropical varieties such as Acacia SP. (Al-Eisawi, 1985). The ecological pyramids and climatic conditions in the northern Jordan Valley “ Ghor” are different from those of southern Ghor and Wadi Araba. So, northern Ghor is considered part of the Mediterranean ecozone.


The most important characteristic of this region is its altitude, considered the lowest point on earth (-396 m below sea level), providing a unique environment and thus a unique ecosystem.

Rainfall ranges from 50-100 mm, the mean annual minimal temperature ranges from (10-20° C) and the mean annual maximal temperature ranges from (20-35° C).


Soil is mostly alluvial transported by water, saline soil, sandy and granite. The only inland sand dunes in Jordan are restricted to this region. Vegetation is characterized by having tropical sea element such as Ziziphus spina-christi in addition to some shrubs and annual herbs.
The borders of the four ecozones aren’t stable and aren’t well defined because of the integration of ecological elements between the two adjacent ecozones. Moreover, the climatic conditions vary considerably from year to year which affect the stability of defining borders. (JCSBD, p.74-77)
The visited areas are:


  • Naur

  • Adasseyah

  • Dead Sea



Dead Sea
Deep in the Jordan Valley and 55 km southeast of Amman, is the Dead Sea, one of the most spectacular natural and spiritual landscapes in the whole world. It is the lowest body of water on earth, the lowest point on earth, and the world's richest source of natural salts, hiding wonderful treasures that accumulated throughout thousands of years.
To reach this unique spot, the visitor enjoys a short 30 minutes drive from Amman, surrounded by a landscape and arid hills, which could be from another planet. En route a stone marker indicates "Sea Level", but the Dead Sea itself is not reached before descending another 400 meters below this sign. (Atlas tours)
It belongs to the Sudanian region, and has a subtropical climate.
Ecological boundaries:

The Dead Sea lies in the heart of the Jordan Rift Valley. The ecological boundaries of the Basin can extend to include that totality of the ecosystems in and around the Jordan Rift Valley including all the tributaries of the Jordan River and the most southerly extensions of Wadi Araba.

The ecological boundaries are to include the areas stretching from the Eastern mountains facing the Sea to the area of Jericho to the north and Jerusalem and Hebron mountains to the west to the middle part of Wadi Araba to the south. Within these geographic boundaries, the identified area is over 120 Km long and 20 Km wide (in average), making a total area of about 2400 Km2. (Ghaith H Fariz)
As its name evokes, the Dead Sea is devoid of life due to an extremely high content of salts and minerals which gives its waters the renowned curative powers, therapeutic qualities, and its buoyancy, recognized since the days of Herod the Great, more than 2000 years ago.
A unique combination of several factors makes Dead Sea's total attraction: the chemical composition of its water, the filtered sunrays and oxygen-rich air, the mineral-rich black mud along the shoreline, and the adjacent fresh water and thermal mineral springs.

The Dead Sea Basis (DSB) contains a variety of unique ecosystems that are not found in any other part of the world. Located in the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea itself is a singular ecosystem that contains the most saline natural water body on earth with very unique forms of life.


Stretching out from the seashores in all directions, a series of unique ecosystems are identified. While semi-tropical marshland, mudflat and wetlands' ecosystems are identified on the northern and southern tips of the Dead Sea;

desert and arid ecosystems are identified in the west and north-western areas of the DSB. River and Wadi ecosystems surround the Dead Sea and are adjacent to rocky -mountainous ecosystems that contain a variety of globally unique flora and fauna.

In spite of all of this uniqueness and rich diversity, Dead Sea's ecological and environmental status are being degraded and seriously threatened. The alarming rates of drop of the sea level and the shrinking of the sea itself are among the most visible forms of this degradation.

Misuse, abuse, and overuse of the natural resources in the Basin itself, as well as in the surrounding support systems -with the water system of the Jordan River Basin on top-, are the major causes of this catastrophic ecological and environmental deterioration. Continuous expansions in water and irrigation projects, increased industrial and mining activities, and flourishing tourism are among the most direct threats to the totality of the Dead Sea ecosystem. The Dead Sea ecology and environment is in danger! (Atlas tours)



Environmental subdivisions:

Eight environmental Subdivisions are defined within the Dead Sea Basin as follows:


Dead Sea, Western Shore Piedmont, Western Shore Walls, Eastern Shore and Walls, Lisan Peninsula, Dead Sea Chemical Works, The southern Ghors, The Melehat Sedom.

The Dead Sea is not "DEAD"

As early as 1936, it was proven that the Dead Sea is not completely abiotic i. e. "dead". (Elazari, Volcani -1936). Since then, a number of halophitic and halotolerant microorganisms have been isolated from the Dead Sea. Two communities have been observed which are Dunaiiella parva, an alga, and; Sulfur isotope gave evidence (Gavrieli and Bein, 1993) indicating sulfate reduction by bacteria



Soil Types:

According to (JRVIDS, 1996) eight major soil associations were identified, these are:

(1) Valley Bottom Soil Associations, and include the following three soil associations: Lisan, Safi1 and Safi 2.

(2) The side valleys and escarpment, and include the following five soil associations: Dhira, Uhaymir, Himara, Triban and Suwwana



Negative Environmental Impacts of Declining Dead Sea Level:

1. Increased inflow of terrestrial groundwater into the Dead Sea which might cause:

• Loss of valuable fresh water.

• Creation of cavities and collapse phenomena.

• Decline in the regional water table could affect water supplies in the southern Ghors and southern Jordan valley.

2. Degradation of the very high landscape values around the Dead Sea, as the expanses of unsightly mudflats extend inexorably, as the Dead Sea level drops.

3. Negative impacts on the tourism industry.

4. Increased production and cost and problems for the Potash industries.

5. Possibility of witnessing "salt storms" that would negatively affect the agriculture and tourism

Dead Sea Water as a Soil Improvement Agent

This is concerned with using water from Dead Sea as a soil stabilization agent. Three materials, a clay soil, a white fine aggregate, and the base course material have been studied. Each material has been mixed with both tap water and Dead Sea water separately and the resulting soil properties have been measured for comparison.(Bassam Z.Mahasneh)



Naur

Is from the Mediterranean region, which is characterized by having the best rainfall(ranges from 400-600 mm/year), the most fertile soil, the highest altitude(900-1700m), the least summer temperature( rarely exceed 30°C), and finally the best vegetation.(Al-Eisawi, p.42)

Naur can be classified as the semi arid Mediterranean bioclimatical region. Where the average minimum temperature (m) during the coldest month(January) varies approximately between -1°C and +7°C, it indicates a cool variety (m between -1 and 3°C) and a warm variety (m between +3°C and 7°C) of the semi arid Mediterranean bioclimatic. The average maximum temperature (M) during the hottest month (August) ranges between 26°C-33°C. the region is slightly warmer than sub-humid zone.(Al-Eisawi, p.38)

The atmospheric pressure ranges at winter from 1017-1017.5 millibar) and at summer from 1008-1008.5 millibar).

Rainfall ranges from 400-500mm/year.(Al Atlas)

We expect to see a soil type of Terra Rossa and non tree vegetation.



Adasseyah

It is from the Irano-Turanian region, where as mentioned above is characterized by rainfall ranges from 150-300mm/year, poor soil, altitude ranges from 400-700m, the temperature is more than the previous region, it might go up to 35-40°C during the hot season.

We expect to see a poor soil with no vegetation.

Visual observation

Dead sea

vegetation

Few vegetation was observed due to the following factors:


  1. Climatical factors:



  1. Soil type

    • very saline

    • mostly alluvial

    • sandy

    • with some granite

and these few vegetation was mainly:

  • palm, which is a characteristic of this region, present only in the small pockets due to the presence of water coming from the hind mountains.(Figure no.1)

  • Succulent plants which is characterized by a succulent leaves and presence of salt crystals on their leaves and this of course because of the saline soil.

such plants:

  1. Calotropis procera (a characteristic plant of this region). (Figure no.2)

  2. Nitraria retusa (has large amount of salty crystals on its leaves)

All of those are CAM plants.

Soil


Yellow and white sandy soil was observed. And this matches what we expected.

Naur

vegetation

Non forest vegetation was observed, but remnant of forests was also observed surrounding the area and due to the decrease in Pine trees.

The leading species of vegetation in this area is shrubs and bushes such as:



Sarcopterium spinosum (a characteristic plant of this area). (Figure no.3)

Soil


Red and yellow soil was observed.

Adasseyah

vegetation

Rare vegetation. With a characterized species Retama raetam (Figure no.4) and the presence of medicinal plants like sage and Oregano. (Figure no.5)

Soil


Calcareous and sandy soil.

Other observation

Some of invertebrates were observed like snails, scorpions and millipedes.

Materials and methods:

Species were collected and classified in a list.



Line transect method was only used so as to determine (Figure no.6).

  • The abundance frequency & density of species.

  • Vegetation cover

  • Maximum height species.

We also collected soil sample from each line transect. Chemical and physical analyses were done in the laboratory to determine capillarity, permeability, gaseous volume, granulometry and organic concentration.(Lab manual)

Results:

Naur's list of species


name of species

no of individual in each quadrate

total no of individual of each specie

no of quadrates of occurrence

total no of quadrates studied

frequency

abundance

density

1

2

3

A

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

B

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

C

3

0

28

31

2

3

66.6

15.5

10.3

D

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

E

24

40

9

73

3

3

100

24.3

24.3

F

9

8

7

24

3

3

100

8

8

G

0

0

1

1

1

3

33.3

1

0.3

H

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

I

3

0

0

3

1

3

33.3

3

1

J

4

0

0

4

0

3

0

0

1.3

K

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

L

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

M

5

2

4

11

3

3

100

3.66

3.6

N

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

O

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

P

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

Q

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

R

4

0

0

4

1

3

33.3

4

1.3

S

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

T

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

U

0

2

0

2

1

3

33.3

2

0.6

V

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

W

8

8

5

21

3

3

100

7

7

X

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

Y

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

Z

0

4

1

5

2

3

66.6

2.5

1.6

Aa

3

0

0

3

1

3

33.3

3

1

Ab

1

0

0

1

1

3

33.3

1

0.3

Ac

0

0

6

6

1

3

33.3

6

2


Adasseya's list of species

name of specie

no of individual in each quadrate

quadrate


total no of individual of each specie

no of quadrates of occurrence

total no of quadrates studied

frequency

abundance

density

1

2

3

A

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

B

16

13

5

34

3

3

100

11.3

11.3

C

4

2

8

14

3

3

100

4.6

4.6

D

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

E

5

8

7

20

3

3

100

6.6

6.6

F

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

G

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

H

4

0

0

4

1

3

33.3

4

1.3

I

0

2

3

5

2

3

66.6

2.5

1.6

J

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

K

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

L

0

0

2

2

1

3

33.3

2

0.6

M

14

13

12

39

3

3

100

13

13

N

1

0

0

1

1

3

33.3

1

0.3

O

1

0

2

3

2

3

66.6

1.5

1

P

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

Q

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

R

1

0

0

1

1

3

33.3

1

0.3

S

8

0

0

8

1

3

33.3

8

2.6

T

0

0

0

0




3

0

0

0

U

4

5

0

9

2

3

66.6

4.5

3

V

8

0

0

8

1

3

33.3

8

2.6
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