October 2016

The management and conservation of Eig's Sage (Salvia eigii)

Racheli Schwartz-Tzachor, the Natural Park at Ramat Hanadiv. racheli@ramathanadiv.org.il
Avi Perevolotsky, the Department of Natural resources, The Volcani Center for Agricultural Research. avi@volcani.agri.gov.il
Gidi Neeman, Department of Biology, University of Haifa-Oranim. gneeman@research.haifa.ac.il

Keywords: reproductive success, reproductive capacity, endangered species, Salvia eigii, endemic plant, rare plant, Ramat Hanadiv, grazing, ex-situ conservation, in-situ conservation,  Lamiaceae

Eig's Sage (Salvia eigii) is an endemic species, defined as an endangered species in danger of extinction. It grows in only ten sites in Israel. The Ramat Hanadiv Park is one of two sites in which the population still numbers over 100 items. In its habitat site at Ramat Hanadiv, as in the whole area of the park, managed cattle grazing takes place, the goal of which is to limit the risk of fire. Since the Eig's Sage plants are exposed to grazing at the peak of their growth and flowering, before the maturing of the fruit and seeds, we decided to carry out a study with the following goals: 1. Examining the effect of cattle grazing on the population of Eig's Sage plants; 2. defining a long-term conservation management plan for Eig's Sage; 3. Examining the possibility of active conservation of Eig's Sage in-situ and ex-situ.  The study results suggest that cattle grazing at the end of Spring directly and severely harms the vegetative growth and reproductive capacity of the Eig's Sage population . Our recommendation is to prepare for this species a management plan that will support its conservation in its natural habitat, that will include fencing around the area in which the plants grow against cattle grazing. In order to prevent the development of tall herbaceous vegetation following the stoppage of cattle grazing, which is liable to push the sage out, it is recommended to open the area for grazing once every six years, in order to moderate the closure of the area and slow down the succession process.  Alternatively, it is possible to apply a management of goat grazing in the summer, after the dispersal of the sage's seeds.  An additional finding of the study is that it is possible, and worthwhile to conserve this rare and endemic species both by means of in-situ conservation in suitable natural areas, and ex-situ conservation in botanical gardens and the gene bank.

Full Hebrew version

Is the Mount Tabor Oak (Quercus ithaburensis) in the process of transition from being a winter deciduous to an evergreen tree?

Gidi Neeman, Department of Biology, University of Haifa-Oranim. gneeman@research.haifa.ac.il

Keywords: Quercus ithaburensis, Mediterranean climate, seasonal behavior,  evergreen, Israel, blossoming, leaf lifespan, trees, phenology, winter defoliation

The Mount Tabor Oak (Quercus ithaburensis) is defined as a species that undergoes winter defoliation, but there are major differences in the timing of defoliation among adjacent trees, among populations, and among the same trees in different years. Tracing the phenology of the timing of defoliation and blossoming of around 240 trees in four populations, over four years, revealed that these differences apparently result from genetic differences among the items, as well as the phenotypical effects of environmental conditions that change from year to year.  In light of the results it may be assumed that the Mount Tabor Oak in Israel is apparently in an evolutionary transition stage from a species that undergoes a winter defoliation, to an evergreen species.
This Hebrew article is based on an academic study that was published in the past in English: G. Ne’eman, "Variation in leaf phenology and habit in Quercus ithaburensis, a Mediterranean deciduous tree", Journal of Ecology, 81:627-634.

Full Hebrew version

The vegetation on the hill of ancient Yodfat – a field of Squills and Snowdrop Bush (Styrax officinalis) trees

Mordechai Aviam, The Land of Israel Studies and the Institute for Galililean Archeology, the Kinneret College. maviam53@gmail.com
Avi Shmida, the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Behavior, the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem,  and the Land of Israel Studies at the Kinneret College. avi.shmida@gmail.com
Areal photography by means of a drone: Yigal Tsuryigal.tsur @gmail.com

Keywords: allelopathy, Lower Galilee, propagation of fruit, chaparral, Drimia maritima, Yodfat, Mount Tabor Oak(Quercus ithaburensis) forest, Styrax officinalis, trees of Israel, holy and ancient trees, vegetation of the Galilee, vegetation of ruins, goat grazing

The vegetation on the hill of ancient Yodfat is described while emphasizing the woody plants, and the special botanical characteristics of the hill on which the site is constructed: a vast (the largest in Israel?!) field of Sea Squills (Drimia maritima) and groups of impressive Officinal Styrax trees, with an old and thick central trunk. The expanse inside the wall from the days of the revolt, is almost completely bare from any woody vegetation, as well as perennial herbs, with the exception of the Squills. The calcrete dome at the top of the hill, shines in its desolation to a great distance, and is almost totally bare of rock plants. The pronounced absence of Kermes Oak (Quercus calliprinos) trees or seedlings on the site, compared to the thick natural chaparral on the nearby Mount Atzmon, and compared to the prominence of the large Palestine Pistachio (Pistacia palaestina) trees that grow on the wall of the cave openings and the rocky slopes. Groups of ancient Styrax trees also grow in the area of the ruins of the Byzantine village, which is north of the hill of ancient Yodfat (the Shifat ruins). It is possible that the Styrax trees were deliberately left and preserved by the shepherds in order to supply food to their flocks during the autumn season. The vast patch of Squills is apparently connected to the fact that the many caves on the hill served as sheep and cattle pens for a long time, and the Squills, which are not eaten by the animals, established themselves among the piles of ruin rubble. Additional anti-pastoral plants, which have become common on the hill due to heavy grazing, are the Lentisk, Mastic Tree (Pisacia leniscus) and  the False Plumed Thistle (Onopordum carduiforme). The HairyThorny Broom (Calicotome villosa) and seedlings of the Kermes Oak (Quercus calliprinos), are prominent in their absence.

Full Hebrew version

Summary of the Kalanit study tour to the Northern Negev 26 & 27 October 2015

Avi Shmida, the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Behavior, and the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Land of Israel Studies at the Kinneret College.  avi.shmida@gmail.com
Gadi Pollak, Kalanit editorial. gadpollak@gmail.com
Lists of plants: Mimi Ron

Keywords: elaiosome, Kochavi site, geophytes, copper road to Egypt, reverse flowering, the Negev, Pancratium sickenbergeri, Rotem sand dunes – right, Stembergia clusiana, Ceratonia siliqua, Limans, wind polinated, Salsola oppositifolia, Chenopodiaceae, fall-blooming flowers Loess plants, desert plants, bulb and tuber plants, Yeruham ridge relicts

The study tour took place during a season of little blooming in the desert, before the significant rains, when most of the active desert shrublets and shrubs acquire a grayish color, and are barely active. The main plants in bloom were the Large Sternbergia (Sternbergia clusiana), Hanbury's Squill  (Scilla hanburyi), the Desert Daffodil (Pancratium sickenbergeri),, the Common Varthemia (Chiliaadenus iphionoides), the Shaggy Sparrow-wort (Thymelaea hitsuta),and the Jointed Anabasis (Anabasis articulata).The single female Common Carob Tree (Ceratonia siliqua) which grows on the Boker ridge was also in bloom. Many of the shrublets and shrubs didn't bloom this year, including Hammada scoparia and the White Wormwood (Artemisia sieberi). A rare species, which was found, is Salsola oppositifolia. Emphasis was placed on the study of the ecology of the desert habitats and vegetation in the Loess areas of the Northern Negev, including the Limans and trees planted in them – various species of Acacia, Prosopis, and Eucalyptus, the slopes of the Negev ridges and the channels between them, and the inner sand dunes of the Rotem plain.

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The alien species of Prosopis which have invaded Israel and Jordan

Avi Shmida, the Department of Evolution, Systematics and Behavior, and the Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and the Land of Israel Studies at the Kinneret College.  avi.shmida@gmail.com

Keywords: Dead Sea Rift, Jodan Rift, Mesquite (Prosopis), Mimosaceae, ornamental trees, alien plants, legumes, the canyons of Mo'av and Edom, Acacia, legume pods.

In the last hundred and fifty years various American species of Mesquite have been planted in warm regions of other continents as ornamental, heating, and shade trees, but they rapidly distributed themselves, and turned into an invasive species, with  negative ramifications to the natural flora in subtropical regions of the globe. Planted species of Mesquite have created hybrids that are difficult to define, which have been given the general name Prosopis juliflora. In Jordan Prosopis juliflora has turned into the number one invasive plant, has become dominant in vast areas in the Jordan Rift (the Ghor), the Dead Sea region and the Arava, and is invading the canyons the western slopes of Mo'av and Edom. This invasion is pushing out and obliterating natural species of trees.  In the past especially the species Prosopis alba was planted, which is limited in its distribution, but it transpires that increasing numbers of uncultivated shrublets of Prosopis juliflora and Prosopis alba are discovered in warm habitats, with high levels of soil dampness  in summer, and there is a serious danger of their spreading in natural  areas, while causing the extinction of natural tree species.

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