Decomposition process in Negev ecosystems

Y. Steinberger, W. G. Whitford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The effects of supplemental water and natural rainfall on decomposition were studied in the Negev Highland desert, Israel. There was a mass loss of approximately 40% in Hammada scoparia leaves and Salsola inermis litter placed on the soil surface and buried in fine mesh bags. There was an annual mass loss of 80% in S. inermis litter buried in large fiberglass mesh bags. Supplemental water provided during the wet season (January to March) did not result in more rapid decomposition of litter of the annual grass Stipa capensis but irrigation during the dry season (August to September) produced a marked increase in the decomposition rate of S. capensis. These data suggest that rain events, not water quantity, are the most important regulators of decomposition in the Negev. Annual rates of decomposition were higher than predicted by models utilizing actual evapotranspiration and lignin content as regulating variables. Rates of decomposition were equal to those reported for tropical wet forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-66
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1988


  • Decomposition
  • Hammada scoparia
  • Negev desert
  • Salsola inermis
  • Water amendment


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