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ECOLOGICAL AND MICROTOPOGRAPHICAL IMPACT OF MESSOR EBENINUS AND MESSOR ARENARIUS ANTS ON ARID LOESS RANGELANDS OF THE NORTHERN NEGEV

https://doi.org/10.24057/2071-9388-2017-10-2-57-73

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Abstract

Improper land management, such as over-grazing in arid areas, has negative effects on the local ecosystems for both the short and the long term time periods. An effective rehabilitation scheme requires human interference by introducing ecosystem engineering organisms together with activities that encourage the spreading and the reproduction of the local plant and animal species. Most of the former studies in arid lands focused on shrubs as engineering species, and much less on other organisms. The major focus of this study was on assessing the impact of Messor ebeninus and M. arenarius on the micro-topographic patterns of arid areas using unique spatial statistical tools designed solely for this purpose. As a case study, the nests’ sizes and their distribution were compared between two adjacent shrublands with similar geographic outlines during 2008 and 2015.One of the shrublands was moderately grazed for the last 20 years (at the far past it was exposed to over-grazing), while the other one is still exposed to over-grazing. The results collected in 2014 at the shrublands and at the adjacent loess area demonstrate the spatial ecosystem ability of the Messor sp. to engineer and beneficially modify their environment by enlarging the water conserving area, increasing the soil fertility and vegetative productivity, and finally accelerating the whole area rehabilitation.

About the Authors

A. Mor-Mussery
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Israel
Agronomist, soil, environmental and plant scientist. He received his M.Sc. Agr. in genetic and inheritance at 2003 from the Faculty of Agriculture. Now he is PhD. student in Geography and Environmental Development at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and lecturer for arid agriculture. His studies include these topics: The effects of gully incision processes on the geo- ecosystem of arid environments; using terraces farming for sustainable agriculture farming; the effects of Messor sp. ants on arid ecosystem fertility; using runoff as irrigation source in arid loess soils and the spatial effects of Acacia victoriae on productivity.


A. Budovsky
Biotechnology Unit, Beer Sheva
Israel
Graduated from the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 2002 and received his PhD. in 2009 from the same University. At present he is Director of the Biotechnology Unit, Technological Center and lecturer at the Achva Academic College. He is an expert in applying systems biology approaches for solving medical and environmental problems


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For citation:


Mor-Mussery A., Budovsky A. ECOLOGICAL AND MICROTOPOGRAPHICAL IMPACT OF MESSOR EBENINUS AND MESSOR ARENARIUS ANTS ON ARID LOESS RANGELANDS OF THE NORTHERN NEGEV. GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY. 2017;10(2):57-73. https://doi.org/10.24057/2071-9388-2017-10-2-57-73

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ISSN 2071-9388 (Print)
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