Ecology Dr. Saeed Damhoureyeh

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Dr. Saeed Damhoureyeh

Trip report

Shaumari reserve

Azraq reserve

Qasr Harranah

Qusayr Amra

Done by:

Asmaa Wazzan

Hiba Abdel Aal

Natalie Abdo

Laial Faraheed

Amal Trooddi

An Overview of Jordan
Since ancient history, Jordan was a birthplace for several civilizations, and was inhabited by human settlements all through the years. It was the pathway for caravans traversing Arabia and India and received caravans coming from Yemen and Hijaz.

Although Jordan's size is limited (90,000 km2), the landscape reveals great diversity within short distances. As a Middle Eastern country, Jordan is located between 29° 11' N and 33° 22' E. It is bordered by Syria to the north, Iraq to the east, and Saudi Arabia on both eastern and southern borders, and Palestine to the west.

  • Three main physiographic regions are identified; they tend to show north-south alignment.

  1. Jordan Rift valley and Wadi Araba

The rift valley extends from Lake Tiberias in the north down to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. In terms of biogeography, the Rift Valley, which also comprises Wadi Araba, is of the Sudanian type in terms of vegetation features. Zoo geographically, the Rift Valley has a distinctive highlight, since it comprises the eastern limits of the Levantine land bridge, which acts as a filter for three main global biogeography regions, namely: the Pale arctic, the Ethiopian, and the Oriental. For that reason it acts as a junction for tremendously important biodiversity traits. The area is the lowest point on earth, reaching 396 m below sea level.

Wadi Araba extends from the south end of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba on the red sea. It is considered a part of the Great Rift Valley with an outstanding zoogeographical importance because of its position at the focal point of the biological filter between Pale arctic, Ethiopian and Oriental regions. The elevation of Wadi Araba ranges between 300 meters below sea level and 200 meters with a length of about 190 km. The mean maximum temperature during summer is 39° C, and the mean minimum temperature in winter is 11° C. The annual rainfall ranges from 0-50mm, and rarely more precipitation occurs. The soils are of sandy nature mainly, with sands dunes of comparatively rich vegetation, in addition to Hammada and saline soil.
In southern Jordan, the desert continues from the northwest of Saudi Arabia. Ecologically it is included with Wadi Araba since there's high similarity between them in terms of topography, soil types, annual rainfall and other environmental factors.

The ground water basins are divided into three areas as follows:

  1. Northern Wadi Araba: Ground Water here found in fluviatile deposits, talus and alluvial fans with a total thickness of about 250m. All the ground water in this Area discharge into the Dead Sea. The amount of renewable freshwater resources amount to 8-10 mcm/year.

  2. Southern Wadi Araba: The ground water flow is directed from the north to the Red Sea in the south with recharge coming from precipitation falling in the surrounding mountains in the east. The throughput of aquifer is calculated to be around 10 mcm/year composed of brackish water.

  3. Disi Basin: This aquifer system originates in the south of Jordan and extends to Saudi Arabia. It is characterized by very high quality water which holds appreciated economic potential, in spite of the fact that is considered as a non-renewable water resource. The aquifer is situated in an Area of low population density and no industry, which will culminate in protection of water from pollution in the long run. This is crucial because this aquifer is the only strategic water reserve in the country. In addition to ground water, Wadi Araba exhibits two important areas in terms of surface water: the northern wadi catchments which discharge to the Dead Sea and the southern wadi catchments which discharge to the Gulf of Aqaba.

The Jordan Rift Valley is part of the Syro-African Rift. It is regarded as a passageway between Eurasia and African fauna, and the gateway for northward ad southward dispersal.

  1. The Highlands

The highlands extend from Um Qais in the north passing through Ajlun Mountains, the hills of Amman and Moab regions, and the Edom Mountains region.

Many creeks and wadies drain from these Hills from north to south and lead to the Jordan River, Dead Sea and Wadi Araba.
The southern Highlands are higher than those in the north, while the reverse is true concerning the variety of vegetation and their density.

The highlands harbor the natural forests in the Kingdom, making up less than 1% of the total surface area. The mismanagement of this environmental resource is noticeable year after year.

  1. Badia Region "Eastern Desert"

Badia comprises the Eastern Plateau of Jordan. It is considered as a flattened area subjected to flash floods. Badia contains the Azraq depression, the second after Jafar depression in the southeast of the country. The Azraq depression formed a permanent Azraq Oasis, currently named as w wetland reserve. (JCSBD, P.71-73)


  • Rainfall and Temperature

The major characteristic of the climate is the contrast between a relatively rainy season from November to April and very dry weather for the rest of the year. With hot, dry, uniform summers and cool, variable winters during which practically all of the precipitation occurs, the country has a Mediterranean-style climate. In general, the farther inland from the Mediterranean Sea a given part of the country lies, the greater are the seasonal contrasts in temperature and the less rainfall.

Atmospheric pressures during the summer months are relatively uniform, whereas the winter months bring a succession of marked low pressure areas and accompanying cold fronts. These cyclonic disturbances generally move eastward from over the Mediterranean Sea several times a month and result in sporadic precipitation.

Most of the East Bank receives less than twelve centimeters of rain a year and may be classified as a dry desert or steppe region. Where the ground rises to form the highlands east of the Jordan Valley, precipitation increases to around thirty centimeters in the south and fifty or more centimeters in the north. The Jordan Valley, lying in the lee of high ground on the West Bank, forms a narrow climatic zone that annually receives up to thirty centimeters of rain in the northern reaches; rain dwindles to less than twelve centimeters at the head of the Dead Sea.
The country's long summer reaches a peak during August. January is usually the coolest month. The fairly wide ranges of temperature during a twenty-four-hour period are greatest during the summer months and have a tendency to increase with higher elevation and distance from the Mediterranean seacoast.

Daytime temperatures during the summer months frequently exceed 36°C and average about 32°C. In contrast, the winter months--November to April--bring moderately cool and sometimes cold weather, averaging about 13°C. Except in the rift depression, frost is fairly common during the winter, and it occasionally snows in Amman.

For a month or so before and after the summer dry season, hot, dry air from the desert, drawn by low pressure, produces strong winds from the south or southeast that sometimes reach gale force.

Known in the Middle East by various names, including the khamsin, this dry, sirocco-style wind is usually accompanied by great dust clouds. Its onset is heralded by a hazy sky, a falling barometer, and a drop in relative humidity to about 10 percent. Within a few hours there may be a 10°C to 15°C rise in temperature. These windstorms ordinarily last a day or so, cause much discomfort, and destroy crops by desiccating them.
The shammal, another wind of some significance, comes from the north or northwest, generally at intervals between June and September. Remarkably steady during daytime hours but becoming a breeze at night, the shammal may blow for as long as nine days out of ten and then repeat the process.
It originates as a dry continental mass of polar air that is warmed as it passes over the Eurasian landmass. The dryness allows intense heating of the earth's surface by the sun, resulting in high daytime temperatures that moderate after sunset.

There is no doubt about the importance of the edaphic factors, especially the soil type and the soil texture in relation to vegetation type and the association texture on the different soils.
The Mediterranean ecozone is characterized by the type of soil known as terra Rosa and/or rendzina soil. These two types are the richest and are used for cultivation, and the dense and best vegetation found in Jordan usually grows on such soil types. In the Irano-Turanian ecozone, the dominant soil type is comprised of loess and calcareous types. (JCSBD, p.73)
The soils in Jordan were studied and classified by several workers. There are differences in methods of classification of the soil according to the different schools and methods used in this field; MOORMANN (1959), ZOHARY (1962), NEDECO-DAR AL-HANDASAH (1969), HARRIS (1971) AND BENDER (1975).
However, the soils in Jordan do not show mature profile except in some places of the Mediterranean region and under the forest vegetation, where the best profile is found. It is made of horizons A&C, with some litter and organic matter on the floor of the forest. Other than that the soil is only represented by C horizon or even just the parental rock and that is mainly due to poor vegetation and continuous erosion.
The soils in Jordan often show enormous variation within a very limited area, which in turn affect the vegetation accordingly.

The most fertile soil types in Jordan are the Terra Rossa and the Rendzina Series or what is equal to the Red and Yellow Mediterranean soil, which are used for cultivation and support the best natural vegetation in the country.

These types of soil usually occur under the maximum amount of rainfall and the least mean annual minimum and maximum temperatures.
The loess and calcareous are dominant in the Irano-Turanian region, while the sandy, the saline, and the hammada soils are dominant in the desert region. These soil types are considered to be poor and well correlated with poor vegetation and with a low amount of precipitation and high temperature. (Al-Eisawi, p.24&27)
The desert soil is primarily composed of limestone with flints scattered all over, or covered by a basalt pebble and boulder that resulted from volcanic out crossings centered on Jabal Druze. The soil of the Southern desert is primarily composed of sand, granite stones and sand dunes. The soil of Wadi Araba is mainly alluvial sand and gravel carried by flash floods in the surrounding highlands. Hence, wadies ending in Wadi Araba build up wide alluvial fans. In the southern region of Wadi Araba there are Qa’a, granite rocks and sand dunes. Qa’a that are found in the Eastern desert and Wadi Araba, are formed where a single basin receives water and silt drained by wadies from the surroundings region. These Qa’as are deprived from both flora and fauna.

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 timber less 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 are 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)
RSCN (The Royal Society for The Conservation of Nature) has been given a mandate by the Jordanian Government to set up a network of protected areas. So far it has established six natural reserves covering an area of approximately 1000 square kilometers. Jordan has ratified international agreements intended to protect biodiversity, endangered species, wetlands, and the ozone layer. The country has also signed treaties that limit nuclear testing, marine pollution, and hazardous waste.

The Azraq Wetlands Reserve, a desert lake that attracts migrating birds from Asia and Africa. The Shaumari Reserve with its herds of gazelle, Oryx, ostriches, and other indigenous animal species. The Mujib Reserve, the deep gorge that flows form the Jordanian highland to the lowest spot on earth at the Dead Sea.

Dana Nature Reserve is a system of Wadi’s and mountains with spectacular wildlife. The Zubia Forest in north –West Jordan, with some of the world’s southernmost surviving pine and evergreen forest. The RSCN has started providing quality services at these protected areas, both to safeguard the natural beauty of the areas and to meet the basis needs of eco – tourists. Services to date include park rangers, camping area, guides trekking and hiking trail, sleeping facilities, visitor centers, parking areas, and handcrafts production and marketing centers.

The five regions of Jordan slated for protection in the near future are the Dibeen pine forest near Jerash, the Yarmouk River gorge north of Umm Qaia, the Burqu’ desert Mudflats in the north –east, the Feifa Area along the south –east Dead Sea coast with its freshwater sping and oases full of subtropical vegetation, and the Jordan River gorge north of the Dead Sea, representing one of the last remaining natural stretches of the Jordan River that has been protected for decades, and thus still has indigenous wildlife such as the Syrian wolf.

Visited areas

  • Shaumari Nature Reserve. (fig. no.1)

  • Azraq Wetlands Reserve. (fig. no.2)

  • Al-harranah Castle. (fig. no.3)

  • Amra castle. (fig. no.4)

Shaumari Nature Reserve

Shaumari is the home of the magnificent Arabian Oryx (, the big white antelope that once roamed throughout Arabia. Here you can see one of the largest herds in the world, built up by years of care to save this animal from extinction.

Shaumari reserve which is located in the eastern desert near Azraq with a size of 22 square kilometers was established in 1975.
Shaumari was the first wildlife reserve in Jordan. It was created to provide a safe home for one of the most endangered animals in the world: the Arabian Oryx. This magnificent desert animal, origin of the fabled unicorn, was saved from the edge of extinction by an international rescue effort and Shaumari was the first place to have them back on Arabian soil. Eight animals were flown over in 1978 from the World Breeding Herd in Phoenix Zoo, Arizona, and by 1999 - twenty years later - the herd had grown to over 200 animals.
Shaumari is also a breeding center for other endangered or locally extinct desert animals, including the Persian onager, the ostrich (fig no.6) and the goitered gazelle.

The reserve serves as an educational center and has a special visitor center and education program.

Azraq desert oasis
Azraq was a vast stretch of water in the desert attracting large herds of free roaming plains animals like some parts of Africa. Still do today as well as huge number of water birds. (Azraq Reserve)
It was established in 1978 at the eastern desert with a size of 12 square kilometers.

Marshland Azraq is a unique wetland located in the heart of the arid Jordanian desert. It contains several pools, a seasonally flooded marshland, and a large mudflat.

A wide variety of birds visit the reserve each year, stopping for a short rest on their long migration between Africa and Europe; or they stay for the winter and some breed in the wetland. The word Azraq means "blue" in Arabic and before water pumping began in the 1980s the oasis provided a sparkling blue jewel in the desert, attracting up to 1/2 a million migrating birds at any one time.
By 1993, however, the extraction of water was so great that no surface water remained and its ecological value was virtually destroyed. With international support, a rescue effort started in 1994 and a significant portion of the wetland has been restored. Many of the birds for which the oasis was renowned are coming back and special boardwalks and bird hides have been constructed to enable visitors to see and enjoy them.

Azraq is a unique oasis, which has recently been brought back to life after years of excessive water pumping. It is the only place in the Jordanian deserts where you can walk around marshes and pools and have green vegetation above your head. Once a major stopover for thousands of migrating birds, it is now beginning to attract some of these birds again. (RSCN)

It is dominated by four main habitats:

  • Wet marsh

  • Silt dunes

  • Mud flat marsh

  • Dry march

(Supervisor of the reserve)
Azraq Oasis wet land is a part of the larger Azraq Basin. The whole area is more or less flattened forming a depression in the dessert as extending into the Azraq mud flat( Qaa' Al-Azraq). Since it is more depressed than the surrounding places, it forms a structure like a huge concave plate.

In Azraq Oasis the altitude is about 520-522m, where it forms a low depression in comparison with the surrounding. (Al Eisawi, p.131)

Mud flat is the lowest point in the Azraq Basin, with a length of 73 kilometers containing 12 valleys.

The Azraq basin is unconfined which is fed by water coming from Jabal Arab in southern Syria with an amount of 25 million m3/year, while the amount of pumped water is 70 million m3/year.

This caused a decrease in the level of the ground water below the water table resulting in the disappearance of springs and a change in ecosystem.

In 1992, the last spring (Ein Al Soda) in the reserve dried. This spring was feeding the reserve with 15 million m3/year. (RSCN)

Qusayr ‘Amra
Is about 28 kilometers from Azraq. It was built during the reign of the Caliph Walid I (705-715 CE) as a luxurious bath house.
The building was a large complex that used to serve host traveling caravans. The building consists of three long halls with vaulted ceilings. Its plain exterior belies the beauty within, where the ceilings and walls are covered with colorful frescoes. Directly opposite the main doorway is a fresco of the caliph sitting on his throne. On the south wall other frescoes depict six other rulers of the day. Of these, four have been identified—Roderick the Visigoth, the Sassanian ruler Krisa, the Negus of Abyssinia, and the Byzantine emperor. The two others are thought to be the leaders of China and the Turks. These frescoes either imply that the present Umayyad caliph was their equal, or it could simply be a pictorial list of the enemies of Islam. Many other frescoes in the main audience chamber offer fantastic portrayals of humans and animals. This is interesting in itself because after the advent of Islam, any illustration of living beings was prohibited. (RSCN)
Qasr al-Harraneh
It is located about 16 kilometers west of Qusayr ‘Amra and 55 kilometers east of Amman.

Archaeologists and historians put three theories about the reason of its existence:

  • Some experts believe that it was a defensive


  • Some believe that it was a caravanserais for passing camel trains.

  • The others say that it served as a retreat for

Umayyad leaders to discuss affairs of state.
Because of its high walls, arrow slits four corner towers and square shape of a Roman fortress. It may consider as defensive fort. But the towers may have instead been built to buttress the walls. They seems not large enough to have been an effective defense

The arrow slits are also cosmetic, being too narrow on the inside to allow archers sufficient visibility and too few in number for effective military usage. We do know that an inscription in a second-story room dates the construction of Qasr al-Harraneh to 711 CE. The presence of Greek inscriptions around the main entrance frame suggests that the castle was built on the site of a Roman or Byzantine building. (RSCN).

Materials and methods
At site of the visited areas:
Qasr al-Harraneh
At the site of Qasr al-Harraneh we only try to observe the type of soil which is mainly composed of Pebble and gravel and notice the type of vegetation that survive and manage to live in this type of soil and environmental conditions-high temperature and law rain-which mainly were saline vegetation.

We also collect a soil sample to study it at the laboratory.

The rest of what we do at the site was a visit to the Qasr it self in order to get the chance to see the beauty of it and its historical importance.

Qusayr ‘Amra
The first thing we do at Qusayr ' Amra was to collect samples of all the plant species that live in the area of the Qusayr, give each one a symbol and list them in a table in order to know frequency, abundance and density of each species, as shown in table no. 1 in the results.
Then we have done three quadrates, measure vegetation cover, how many species, how many individual of each species, and the maximum height specie in each one. Figure no.7 shows one of the quadrates we have done.
Then we took one soil sample for further study for its properties at the laboratory.
Also there we have got the chance to inter Qusayr Amra which considers as globally important inheritance, we saw the pictures on the walls like the ones in figure no. 8, which tell us a lot about the environment, ecosystems, and the vegetation found at the time of its building. These paintings and the way of building tell us a lot of how grate was our ancestors and hoe they were a professional workers, even the photo does not show that much and cant give the true image about its importance, it does worth to watch(figure no. 4 + 9).

Shaumari Nature Reserve and Azraq desert oasis

At the Shaumari Reserve and at Azraq Reserve, we made a tour at both reserve, listening to the ones who are in charge of them in order to know the role of both reserves in reviving the ecosystems that must be found at these areas. And to know the role of the RSCN in preserving and protecting the environments right there and other parts in the kingdom.

And we told about the animals that are breeding at the Shaumari reserve which are:

  • The Arabian Oryx

  • Persian Onager

  • The Ostrich

  • Goitered Gazelle

We took a soil sample from the Shaumari reserve.

Experiments done at the laboratory and data collection:
For all soil samples we have taken five experiments were done to them at the laboratory:

  1. Granulometry test to classify the soil type and its particles size.

  2. Permeability test which is the amount of water penetrating a unit area per time, so we measure the time taken by a known volume of water to penetrate an area of soil then do the calculations:

Permeability = volume of water

Unit area of soil*time

  1. Capillarity test to know the tendency of water to move through soil by capillary means, we measure the time it takes for water to raise the surface of a soil sample put in cylindrical glass and blocked with cotton ball at the end.

  2. Gaseous volume which is pore space per unit. We measure the volume of water that is enough to saturates a known volume of soil then do the calculations

G.V= volume of water * 100

Volume of soil

  1. Organic matter to determine the percentage of organic concentration in the soil.

Visual observation
Qasr Al Harranna
The soil is composed of Pebble and gravel, it is mostly clayey loam covered by gravels.
It is primarily composed of limestone with flints scattered all over, or covered by a basalt pebble and boulder that resulted from volcanic source.
*Pebble and gravel is of Hammada type which comprises most of the Sahara Arabian region in Jordan. *(Al-Eisawi, p.78)
Rain events are heavy but short in time. Water running from hills composes Wadi beds.
Some of the water accumulates and remains for a long time then evaporates to form mud flats, some of these mud flats have many layers of soils that was eroded by water and dried to from hard crust with cracks, the depth of the crust depend on how long water remained.

*Mud flats are places in the desert where water accumulates and soil is made of very fine particle, mainly of clay and silt. After the water evaporates, the soil becomes solid and very hard, which does not help any plant to germinate and survive.*(Al-Eisawi paper)

Very low vegetation was observed. This little vegetation is saline with small succulent leaves and small crystals of salts. Some have a grey color to reflect sun light.
The vegetation is mainly dominated by Anabasis articulata which is representative of CAM plants.

Qusayr Amra
Vegetation is wadi bed vegetation, like Wadi Al-Buttom. The vegetation in here is special cases where Pistacia atlantica trees are growing along the wadi side, especially in this area (Qasr Amra), although this place is within the Sahara region, its vegetation belong to the steppe type.
The dominated species are:

  • Pistacia atlantica

  • Some Tamarix spp.

  • Retama raetum.

(fig. no.10)

All those plants are succulent plants.

Atriplex is a forage plant which can survive in saline soil and high dry conditions and it is an edible plant.
When we entered the castle, we saw pictures on walls that show different kinds of plants and animals this gave us an image that in the past the area was inhibited with different types of plants and animals that does not exist anymore.

Al-Azraq reserve
The soil is of alluvial type transported by wind or water. The soil is mostly clayey loams or silty loams.
The vegetation is heavy due to the presence of water and such richness made this wet land among the most important habitats on earth.

This vegetation is dominated by:

  • Typha domingensis( fig. no.11)

  • Phragmitis australis( fig. no. 12)

The ratio between these two plants must be 1:1, but Fragmitis needs more depth of water than Typha and since the depth of water had been decreased through years, Typha had become the dominated one.

Typha is much longer than Fragmitis and grow more rapidly so it blocks the vision of birds so they cannot see water hence do not land on basin. Also the thickness prevent birds from doing their activities, so Typha must be reduced and that is what the reserve is doing by introducing aquatic buffalo (from Shishan) that feed on Typha and by this way the problem was solved.

Shumari Reserve
Soil is of three types in this area

  • Limestone Hammada

  • Saline-gypsum

  • Alluvial

Vegetation is very rich correlated with rain fall quantity. Most of the plants are annuals.

Main vegetation is composed of little shrubs and desert bushes such plants are well adapted to the dry hot summer and most of them have their vegetation season during summer, so they are either succulent or spiny to adapt the dry hot saline habitat.

It is divided into four main groups:

  • Hammada vegetation, the observed species are:

Anabasis and Atriplex.

  • Mud flat vegetation in this vegetation, Ephedra is supposed to be observed but we didn't see it.

  • Saline vegetation, the observed species is

Nitraria retusa.

  • Run-off vegetation, this vegetation is represented by bushes and shrubs of Atriplex, and this covers the majority of the reserve.

Other observation
Several animals inhabits the reserve like

  • The Arabian Oryx

  • Persian Onager

  • The Ostrich

  • Goitered Gazelle

  • Kestrel

  • Yellow wagtail

  • Hoopoe

  • Starling

  • Creamed colored courser

  • Stonechat

  • Long-eared hedgehog (fig. no.13)

  • Marbled polect

  • Grey wolf which was in the rehabitation unit until it becomes well. (Fig. no.14)

(Figures no.15, 16 and 17)

Species list of Qusayr Amra:

name of specie

no of individual in each quadrate


total no of individual of each specie

no of quadrates of occurrence

total no of quadrates studied















































































































Vegetation cover




Maximum height


sp. B


sp. A



Results obtained from laboratory work:





Permeability cm/min




Capillarity min.




Gaseous volume %




Shaumari- shows higher permeability, capillarity and gaseous volume.

Harrana-shows high permeability and gaseous volume but low capillarity.

Amra-shows high capillarity and gaseous volume but relatively low permeability.


Organic concentration



Qusayr Amra




All visited area showed very low organic matter as indicated in the above table.

Granulometry of Qusayr Amra:


Sample 1

Size/ weight






3.35- 1.7



1.7- 0.7



0.7- 0.5



0.5- 0.25



0.25- 0.125




Granulometry of Shumari


Sample 1

Size/ weight






3.35- 1.7



1.7- 0.7



0.7- 0.5



0.5- 0.25



0.25- 0.125




Granulometry of Harranah:


Sample 1

Size/ weight






3.35- 1.7



1.7- 0.7



0.7- 0.5



0.5- 0.25



0.25- 0.125




Conclusion and discussion

Shaumari-High permeability in Shaumari makes water to be accumulated at the bottom of the soil, and this prevents the roots of the plants from getting use of water.

The high permeability is compensated by the high capillarity and gaseous volume, and the high capillarity makes water to go up by capillary means.

Low organic matter also has a role in having low vegetation in this area.

Chart no.1 shows that the most dominant soil type is sand because the most occurring size is (0.5-0.25) mm in diameter according to vegetation region classification, Shaumari occur in Hammada region so it is characterized by having sandy Hammada soil type, it is another reason for having low vegetation.

Harranah-high permeability and gaseous volume and low permeability make the soil of this region very poor. Low organic matter also has a role in having low vegetation in this area.

Chart no.2 shows that the fine gravel soil type is the most dominated ( 1.7-0.7 ) mm in diameter, this region occurs in the Saharo-Arabian region with sandy soil type is abundant.

Amra-high capillarity and gaseous volume helped plants to grow by providing a sufficient amount of water although it is low due to the low rainfall.

The most dominant soil type was gravel (>3.35) mm in diameter this result is consistent with classification of this region in Saharo-Arabian in which Hammada soil is dominant. This soil type is considered to be poor and related to poor vegetation. And this is what we concluded from chart no.3.

Organic matter is relatively high in comparison with Shaumari and Harrana.

All those reasons made Amra to have high vegetation considered to the vegetation in the surrounding area.

Permeability and capillarity are low in all the regions where gaseous volume was the highest in Amra. (Chart no.4)

Figures and charts

Chart no.1

Granulometry of Shaumari

Chart no.2

Granulometry of

Qasr al-Harrana

Chart no3

Granulometry of Qusayr Amra

Chart no.4

Figure no.1

Figure no.2

Figure no.3

Figure no.4

Figure no.5

Figure no.6

Figure no.7

Figure no.8

Figure no.9

Figure no.10

Figure no.11

Figure no.12

Figure no.13

Figure no.14

Figure no.15

Figure no.16

Figure no.17


  • Al Eisawi-vegetation of Jordan by Dawud Al-Eisawi.

  • The Royal Society of Conservation of Nature.

  • JCSBD-Jordan Country Study and Biodiversity.

  • Laboratory manual by Saeed damhoureyeh

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