The impact of Acacia saligna and the loss of mobile dunes on rodent populations: a case study in the Ashdod-Nizzanim sands in Israel

in Israel Journal of Plant Sciences

The Mediterranean coastal dune habitat of Israel is diminishing rapidly, mostly due to massive urbanization, changes in habitat characteristics caused by dune stabilization and the presence of Acacia saligna, an invasive species brought to Israel for the purpose of dune stabilization. In this study we document the effect of sand stabilization on the composition of small mammal communities in the Ashdod-Nizzanim sands, Israel. We analyzed differences in species diversity and abundance for species of rodents in four types of habitat: unstable (mobile) sand dune, semi-stabilized dune, inter-dune depression and a plot of the invasive Acacia saligna. Rodent communities were found to undergo gradual changes concurrently with the stabilization of the sands. The mobile dune was the only habitat in which the strict psammophiles Jaculus jaculus and Gerbillus pyramidum were captured in abundance. No species commensal with human were captured neither in the mobile nor in the semi-stabilized dunes. However, in the inter-dune depression there was quite a large representation of Mus musculus, a rodent commensal with humans. The Acacia saligna plot had the lowest number of captures and the lowest rodent biomass calculated, with Mus musculus composing nearly half of the captures. The results of this study demonstrate that stabilization of the sands in Ashdod-Nizzanim area is associated with the disappearance of psammophile rodents and the appearance of species commensal with humans. In order to preserve the habitat for psammophile rodents, measures should be taken to halt the spread of acacia and the continuing stabilization of the sands.

  • Abramsky Z. (1984). Population biology of Gerbillus allenbyi in northern Israel. Mammalia 48197206.

  • Abramsky Z. Brand S. Rosenzweig M. (1985). Geographical ecology of gerbilline rodents in sand dune habitats of Israel. J. Biogeog. 12363372.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Abramsky Z. (1988). The role of habitat and productivity in structuring desert rodent communities. Oikos 52107114.

  • Achiron-Frumkin T. Frumkin R. Rudich R. Maloul A. Levin N. Papai N. (2003). Conservation of the sands of the coastal plain – a policy paper. Ministry of the Environment SPNI NRPA JNF HS JIIS (in Hebrew).

    • Export Citation
  • Aram E. (1999). Dynamics of rodent populations in agricultural fields. MSc Thesis Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (in Hebrew).

    • Export Citation
  • Bar (Kutiel) P. Cohen O. Shoshany M. (2004). Invasion rate of the alien species Acacia saligna within coastal sand dune habitats in Israel. Israel J. Plant Sci. 52115124.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bird T.L.F. Dorman M. Ramot A. Bouskila A. Bar (Kutiel) P. Groner E. (2017). Shrub encroachment effects on habitat heterogeneity and beetle diversity in a Mediterranean coastal dune system. Land Degrad. Develop. 2825532562. DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2807.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Boursot P. Auffray J.C. Britton-Davidian J. Bonhomme F. (1993). Evolution of house mice. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 24119152.

  • Cohen O. Bar (Kutiel) P. (2017). The impact of Acacia saligna invasion on the indigenous vegetation in various coastal habitats in Israel and its implication for nature conservation. Israel J. Plant Sci. 64111121. DOI: 10.1080/07929978.2016.1275362.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Danin A. Yaalon D.H. (1982). Silt plus clay sedimentation and decalcification during plant succession in sands of the Mediterranean coastal plain of Israel. Israel J. Earth Sci. 31101109.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Danin A. (1999). Flora and vegetation of Israel and adjacent areas. In: Yom-Tov Y. and Tchernov E. eds. The Zoogeography of Israel: The Distribution and Abundance at a Zoogeographical Crossroad. Dordrecht: Dr. W. Junk Publishers pp. 129157.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dolev A. Perevolotsky A. (2002). The Red Book of Threatened Species in Israel – Vertebrates. Jerusalem: Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

  • French K. Major R.E. (2001). Effect of an exotic Acacia (Fabacea) on ant assemblages in South African fynbos. Austral Ecol. 26303310.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harrison D.L. (1972). The Mammals of Arabia. London: Ernest Benn Limited.

  • Kotler B.P. (1984a). Harvesting rates and predatory risk in desert rodents: a comparison of two communities on different continents. J. Mammal. 659196.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kotler B.P. (1984b). Risk of predation and the structure of desert rodent communities. Ecology 65689701.

  • Kutiel P. (2000). Conservation and management of the open spaces in the sand dune area of the coastal plain of Israel. Ecology and Environment 69196 (in Hebrew).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kutiel P. Peled Y. Geffen E. (2000). The effect of removing shrub cover on annual plants and small mammals in a coastal sand dune ecosystem. Biol. Conserv. 94235242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lehmann T. Perevolotsky A. (1992). Small mammals in coniferous plantations and native environment in southern Mt. Carmel, Israel. Mammalia 56575585.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Levin N. Ben-Dor E. (2004). Monitoring sand dune stabilization along the coastal dunes of Ashdod-Nizzanim, Israel, 1945–1999. J. Arid Environ. 58333355.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liphshitz N. Biger G. (1997). Sand dunes reclamation by vegetation in Palestine during the British mandate period. Horizons in Geography 46–472138 (in Hebrew).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mack R.N. Simberloff D. Londsale W.M. Evans H. Clout M. Bazzaz F.A. (2000). Biotic invasions: causes, epidemiology, biological consequences and control. Ecol. Appl. 10689710.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manor R. Saltz D. (2004). The impact of free-roaming dogs on gazelle kid/female ratio in a fragmented area. Biol. Conserv. 119231236.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Manor R. Cohen O. Saltz D. (2008). Community homogenization and the invasiveness of commensal species in Mediterranean afforested landscapes. Biol. Invasions 10507515.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mendelssohn H. Yom-Tov Y. (1999). Fauna Palaestina: Mammalia of Israel . Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

  • Morris M.J. (1997). Impact of the gall-forming rust fungus Uromycladium tepperianum on the invasive tree Acacia saligna in South Africa. J. Biol. Control 107582.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Naveh Z. (1985). The climax of the Mediterranean Maquis − imagination or reality? Rotem 181433 (in Hebrew).

  • Nijssen M.N. Van Duinen G.A. Beusink P.B.F. Esselink H. (2005). Improving restoration management of coastal dunes: Scarabid beetles show the way. In: The World Conference on Ecological Restoration Zaragosa Spain: Society for Ecological Restoration International p. 115.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nsikani M.M. Novoa A. Van Wilgen B.W. Keet J-H . Gartner M. (2017). Acacia saligna’s soil legacy effects persist up to 10 years after clearing: Implications for ecological restoration. Austral. Ecol. 42880889. DOI: 10.1111/aec.12515.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Osborn D.J. Helmy I. (1980). The Contemporary Land Mammals of Egypt (including Sinai). Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.

  • Randall J.A. (1993). Behavioural adaptations of desert rodents (Heteromyidae). Anim. Behav. 45263287.

  • Rosenzweig M.L. (2001). The four questions: What does the introduction of exotic species do to diversity? Evol. Ecol. Res. 3361367.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schmitz D.C. Simberloff D. (1997). Biological invasions: a growing threat. Issues Sci. Technol. 133340.

  • Shacham B. (2010). Dune management and reptiles: implications for habitat reconstruction and conservation strategies. PhD Dissertation Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

    • Export Citation
  • Shenbrot G.I. Krasnov B.R. Rogovin K.A. (1999). Spatial Ecology of Desert Rodent Communities . Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

  • Shkedy Y. Sadot E. (2000). Protecting Open Landscapes for Biological Conservation – Operational Tools and Priorities. Jerusalem: Israel Nature and Parks Authority (in Hebrew).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shmida A. (1982). The endemic plants of Israel. Rotem 3347 (in Hebrew).

  • Shmida A. (1985). Richness and evolution of the annual flora of the Mediterranean Maquis. Rotem 185768 (in Hebrew).

  • Tsoar H. (1990). The ecological background, deterioration and reclamation of desert dune sand. Agric. Ecosystems Environ. 33147170.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tsoar H. Blumberg D.G. (2002). Formation of parabolic dunes from barchan and transverse dunes along Israel's Mediterranean coast. Earth Surf. Process. Landf. 2711471161.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tsoar H. (2005). Sand dunes mobility and stability in relation to climate. Physica A 3575056.

  • Walker B. Steffen W. (1997). An overview of the implications of global change for natural and managed terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol. Soc. 1217.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wasserberg G. Kotler B.P. Abramsky Z. (2006). The role of site, habitat, seasonality and competition in determining the nightly activity patterns of psammophilic gerbils in a centrifugally organized community. Oikos 112573579.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Werner Y.L. (1990). Ecological biogeography of reptiles in the sand deserts of Israel. Hardun 53355 (in Hebrew).

  • Yelenik S.G. Stock W.D. Richardson D.M. (2004). Ecosystem level impacts of invasive Acacia saligna in the South African fynbos. Restor. Ecol. 124451.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 33 33 11
Full Text Views 8 8 6
PDF Downloads 5 5 4