Authors: WAHIDA GHILOUFI, JOSE LUIS QUERO PEREZ, MIGUEL GARCIA GOMEZ, MOHAMED CHAIEB
Abstract: North African steppes are subjected to extreme degradation resulting in the reduction of their surface, genetic erosion of resources, and decrease in biodiversity. Stipa tenacissima steppes, which constitute one of the most representative vegetation types in the driest areas of the Mediterranean basin, are continuously degrading. With the aim of contributing to a better knowledge of the floristic composition and diagnosing the state of degradation of these steppes, we conducted a phytoecological analysis of 10 S. tenacissima sites in Tunisia. Floristic inventory compiled a systematic list of 46 vascular plant species belonging to 43 genera and 26 families. Species richness ranged from 4 to 18 species per 900 m2. Total vegetation cover was moderate and fluctuated between 22.8% and 49.9%. Our results revealed also a decreasing trend in species richness with increasing elevation (\rho = -0.585). Indeed, species richness was negatively correlated with slope (\rho = -0.19) and positively correlated with sand content (\rho = 0.262). Biological types were dominated by chamaephytes; this chamaephytization is due to the phenomenon of aridization and overgrazing. Moreover, the low species cover and the appearance of nonpalatable species highlighted the vulnerability of these steppes to degradation.
Keywords: Flora, Stipa tenacissima steppes, biodiversity, Tunisia, degradation, North Africa
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