Vegetation cover and species richness after recurrent forest fires in the Eastern Mediterranean ecosystem of Mount Carmel, Israel

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Abstract

Fire is a common disturbance in Mediterranean ecosystems, and can have a destructive, influential, and even essential, effect on vegetation and wildlife. In recent decades there has been a general increase in the number of fires in the Mediterranean Basin, including in Mount Carmel, Israel. The effects of recurrent forest fires on vegetation cover and species richness were determined in the spring of 2009 and 2010 by field surveys. The results of this study showed that the vegetation cover changes after recurrent forest fires, and can serve as a good indicator of the influence of fire and the resulting ecosystem rehabilitation. The dominant cover in most fire-damaged areas was composed of shrubs and dwarf-shrubs, especially Cistus salviifolius and Calicotome villosa. Tree cover was severely damaged after recurrent fires, and in those areas there was a drastic decrease of the total plant cover. Species richness increased mainly in the first decade after the recurrent fires, and decreased when the forest canopy began to close. Fire recurrence with short intervals (4–6 years) between fires may lower the rehabilitated processes of the ecosystem and change its equilibrium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1395-1402
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume572
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Keywords

  • Mediterranean
  • Mount Carmel
  • Recurrent forest fires
  • Species richness
  • Vegetation cover

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry

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