Decomposition of root litter and related microbial population dynamics of a Negev Desert shrub, Zygophyllum dumosum

Y. Steinberger, R. Degani, G. Barness

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    19 Scopus citations


    Decomposition of root litter was studied using roots of the perennial shrub Zygophyllum dumosum, located at three depths (10, 20 and 30 cm). There were three diameter classes (1-3; 4-8; 9-16 mm) used during two consecutive years in the Negev Highland Desert, Israel. No significant differences in decomposition rates in root mass losses between the two treatments and years were found. In both treatments there was an annual mass loss of 15·5%, calculated kinetics (k) of 0·18 year−1, with a turnover time of approximately 17 years. Rates of mass losses of root litter in the Negev Desert were found to be different than those reported for two evergreen shrubs from the Chihuahuan Desert but were found to be comparable to the data reported on Scots pine roots from the SECON research site in Sweden. These results suggest that linkage exists between rainfall (events, amount) events, root diameter, lignin and nitrogen concentration, and biotic activity where water availability is one of the most important regulators of decomposition in the Negev Desert.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)383-399
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Arid Environments
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1995

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    We would like to thank ProfN. West, Drs S. Sarig and J. Doyle for their constructive criticisms. We also thank the staff at the Evenari Runoff Research Farm at Avdat. This research was supported in part by a grant from the Research Authority at Bar-Ilan University.


    • decomposition
    • desert
    • microbial population
    • roots


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