LTER site established at 1958

Site manager: Prof. Arnon Karnieli

Contact: karnieli@bgu.ac.il

Operating Organization Ben-Gurion University & Hebrew University


General Site Description:

The site established in 1958. We can still find in the site the remains of terraces from the Nabatean agriculture runoff. The main research topics that being studied in the site are: biodiversity, climate change, runoff hydrology


Purpose of Site:

The purpose of the site is to study the effect of rainfall and runoff patterns on ecological dynamics that includes population and community properties and ecosystem and landscape processes. In addition, the site provides ecosystem management knowledge with emphasis on runoff harvesting for agricultural purposes.


History of site:

The site was established in order to understand ancient agriculture (3000 years ago in a very arid environment) in order to understand the ancient agriculture, the studies were focus on rainfall-runoff- soil moisture- vegetation relationship. After the initial stage research was expanded to include plant physiology, population and community dynamic of plants, the effect of micro climate on animal behaver, decomposition processes, below and above ground relationships and the role of organisms as ecosystem engineers. Currently the site is adopting earth observation methods to understand land use, land cover processes and their effect on the ecosystem


Monitored parameters:

Meteorological data, rainfall and runoff, biomass, species richness, soil biota diversity, decomposition processes


  • Akuja, T., Godonu, K. G., Kraaij, T., Mwangi, M., Oguzoglu, I., & Zaady, E. (2002). Soil characteristics of crusted outside and subcanopy areas of four dominant shrubs in the Negev Desert. International Journal of Agriculture and Rural Development3(1), 162-170
  • Ayal, Y., & Merkl, O. (1994). Spatial and temporal distribution of tenebrionid species (Coleoptera) in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Journal of Arid Environments27(4), 347-361.‏
  • Azatyan, A. (2013). Effect of heavy rainfall on desert soil bacterial community composition and dynamics (Doctoral dissertation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev).
  • Bachar, A., Al-Ashhab, A., Soares, M. I. M., Sklarz, M. Y., Angel, R., Ungar, E. D., & Gillor, O. (2010). Soil microbial abundance and diversity along a low precipitation gradient. Microbial ecology60(2), 453-461.
  • Ben-David, E. A., Zaady, E., Sher, Y., & Nejidat, A. (2011). Assessment of the spatial distribution of soil microbial communities in patchy arid and semi-arid landscapes of the Negev Desert using combined PLFA and DGGE analyses.FEMS microbiology ecology76(3), 492-503.‏
  • Berg, N., & Steinberger, Y. (2008). Role of perennial plants in determining the activity of the microbial community in the Negev Desert ecosystem. Soil Biology and Biochemistry40(10), 2686-2695.‏
  • Berg, N., & Steinberger, Y. (2010). Are biological effects of desert shrubs more important than physical effects on soil microorganisms?. Microbial ecology,59(1), 121-129.‏
  • Berg, N., & Steinberger, Y. (2012). The role of perennial plants in preserving annual plant complexity in a desert ecosystem. Geoderma185, 6-11.‏
  • Berg, N., Unc, A., & Steinberger, Y. (2015). Examination of biotic and abiotic controls of soil bacterial diversity under perennial shrubs in xeric soils.CATENA127, 124-128.‏
  • Bilde, T., Lubin, Y., Smith, D., Schneider, J. M., & Maklakov, A. A. (2005). The transition to social inbred mating systems in spiders: role of inbreeding tolerance in a subsocial predecessor. Evolution59(1), 160-174.
  • Buis, E., & Veldkamp, A. (2008). Modelling dynamic water redistribution patterns in arid catchments in the Negev Desert of Israel. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms33(1), 107-122.
  • Buis, E., Veldkamp, A., Boeken, B., & Van Breemen, N. (2009). Controls on plant functional surface cover types along a precipitation gradient in the Negev Desert of Israel. Journal of Arid Environments73(1), 82-90.‏
  • Bunce, R. G. H., Bogers, M. M. B., Evans, D., Halada, L., Jongman, R. H. G., Mucher, C. A., … & Olsvig-Whittaker, L. (2013). The significance of habitats as indicators of biodiversity and their links to species. Ecological Indicators33, 19-25.
  • Ginzburg, O., Whitford, W. G., & Steinberger, Y. (2008). Effects of harvester ant (Messor spp.) activity on soil properties and microbial communities in a Negev Desert ecosystem. Biology and fertility of soils45(2), 165-173.‏
  • Goossens, D., & Offer, Z. I. (1990). A wind tunnel simulation and field verification of desert dust deposition (Avdat Experimental Station, Negev Desert). Sedimentology37(1), 7-22.
  • Grishkan, I., Zaady, E., & Nevo, E. (2006). Soil crust microfungi along a southward rainfall gradient in desert ecosystems. European Journal of Soil Biology42(1), 33-42.‏
  • Gutterman, Y. (1993). Environmental Factors During Seed Imbibition Affecting Germination. In Seed Germination in Desert Plants (pp. 169-206). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Gutterman, Y. (1993). Germination, the Survival of Seedlings and Competition. In Seed Germination in Desert Plants (pp. 207-223). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.‏
  • Gutterman, Y., & Ginott, S. (1994). Long-term protected’seed bank’in dry inflorescences of Asteriscus pygmaeus; achene dispersal mechanism and germination. Journal of Arid Environments26(2), 149-163.‏
  • Gutterman, Y., & Gozlan, S. (1998). Amounts of winter or summer rain triggering germination and ‘the point of no return’of seedling desiccation tolerance, of some Hordeum spontaneum local ecotypes in Israel. Plant and Soil204(2), 223-234.‏
  • Halldorf, S. (1994). Runoff water as a soil forming factor in arid zones.
  • Johannesen, J., & Lubin, Y. (1999). Group founding and breeding structure in the subsocial spider Stegodyphus lineatus (Eresidae). Heredity82(6), 677-686.
  • Kamai, T., Weisbrod, N., & Dragila, M. I. (2009). Impact of ambient temperature on evaporation from surface‐exposed fractures. Water resources research45(2).
  • Kappen, L., Lange, O. L., Schulze, E. D., Evenari, M., & Buschbom, U. (1972). Extreme water stress and photosynthetic activity of the desert plant Artemisia herba-alba Asso. Oecologia10(2), 177-182.‏
  • Kidron, G. J. (1999). Altitude dependent dew and fog in the Negev Desert, Israel. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology96(1), 1-8.‏
  • Kidron, G. J. (2005). Measurements of evaporation with a novel mini atmometer in the Negev. Weather60(9), 268-272.
  • Kidron, G. J. (2009). The effect of shrub canopy upon surface temperatures and evaporation in the Negev Desert. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms,34(1), 123-132.
  • Kidron, G. J., & Starinsky, A. (2012). Chemical composition of dew and rain in an extreme desert (Negev): Cobbles serve as sink for nutrients. Journal of Hydrology420, 284-291. (1, 3, 8 )
  • Kidron, G. J., Starinsky, A., & Yaalon, D. H. (2014). Cyanobacteria are confined to dewless habitats within a dew desert: Implications for past and future climate change for lithic microorganisms. Journal of Hydrology519, 3606-3614.
  • Kidron, G. J., Temina, M., & Starinsky, A. (2011). An investigation of the role of water (rain and dew) in controlling the growth form of lichens on cobbles in the Negev Desert. Geomicrobiology Journal28(4), 335-346.‏
  • Kidron, G. J., Yair, A., & Danin, A. (2000). Dew variability within a small arid drainage basin in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society126(562), 63-80.‏
  • Lange, O. L., & Schulze, E. D. (1989). In memoriam Michael Evenari (formerly Walter Schwarz) 1904–1989. Oecologia81(4), 433-436.‏
  • Lövenstein, H. M., Berliner, P. R., & van Keulen, H. (1991). Runoff agroforestry in arid lands. Forest Ecology and Management45(1), 59-70.
  • Olsvig-Whittaker, L., Frankenberg, E., Magal, Y., Shkedy, Y., Amir, S., Walczak, M., … & Boeken, B. (2011). EBONE in Mediterranean and desert sites in Israel, with notes on South Africa. Alterra Report2260.
  • Olsvig-Whittaker, L., Walczak, M., Jobse, D., & Boeken, B. (2012). Patterns in Habitat Type, Species Richness and Community Composition at Avdat Lter, Israel. Journal of Landscape Ecology5(3), 5-23.
  • Pinker, R. T., & Karnieli, A. (1995). Characteristic spectral reflectance of a semi-arid environment. International Journal of Remote Sensing16(7), 1341-1363.‏
  • Schulze, E. D., Lange, O. L., Buschbom, U., Kappen, L., & Evenari, M. (1972). Stomatal responses to changes in humidity in plants growing in the desert.Planta108(3), 259-270.‏
  • Schulze, E. D., Lange, O. L., Kappen, L., Buschbom, U., & Evenari, M. (1973). Stomatal responses to changes in temperature at increasing water stress.Planta110(1), 29-42
  • Shanan, L., & Schick, A. P. (1980). A hydrological model for the Negev Desert Highlands: effects of infiltration, runoff and ancient agriculture/Modèle hydrologique pour les régions montagneuses du Negev: les effets d’infiltration, d’écoulement et de l’agriculture ancienne. Hydrological Sciences Journal25(3), 269-282.‏
  • Shelef, O. (2008). How Landscape Diversity Affects Species Diversity: Shrub Effect on Beetle Diversity in Grazed Drylands (Doctoral dissertation, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev).
  • Shelef, O., & Groner, E. (2011). Linking landscape and species: Effect of shrubs on patch preference of beetles in arid and semi-arid ecosystems.Journal of Arid Environments75(10), 960-967.‏
  • Shem-Tov, S., Zaady, E., Groffman, P. M., & Gutterman, Y. (1999). Soil carbon content along a rainfall gradient and inhibition of germination: a potential mechanism for regulating distribution of Plantago coronopus. Soil Biology and Biochemistry31(9), 1209-1217.
  • Sher, Y., Zaady, E., & Nejidat, A. (2013). Spatial and temporal diversity and abundance of ammonia oxidizers in semi-arid and arid soils: indications for a differential seasonal effect on archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidizers. FEMS microbiology ecology86(3), 544-556.
  • Steinberger, Y. (1991). Litter fall and nitrogen reabsorption in Zygophyllum dumosum in the Negev Desert. Israel Journal of Botany40(1), 33-39.‏
  • Steinberger, Y., & Whitford, W. G. (1988). Decomposition process in Negev ecosystems. Oecologia75(1), 61-66.‏
  • Steinberger, Y., Leschner, H., & Shmida, A. (1991). Chaff piles of harvester ant (Messor spp.) nests in a desert ecosystem. Insectes Sociaux38(3), 241-250
  • Steinberger, Y., Leschner, H., & Shmida, A. (1992). Activity pattern of harvester ants (Messor spp.) in the Negev desert ecosystem. Journal of arid environments23, 169-176
  • Temina, M., & Kidron, G. J. (2011). Lichens as biomarkers for dew amount and duration in the Negev Desert. Flora-Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants206(7), 646-652
  • Ukabi, S., Whitford, W. G., & Steinberger, Y. (2009). Faunalpedturbation effects on soil microarthropods in the Negev Desert. Journal of arid environments,73(10), 907-911.‏
  • Yair, A. (1999). 14 Spatial Variability in the Runoff Generated in Small Arid Watersheds: Implications for Water Harvesting. Arid Lands Management: Toward Ecological Sustainability, 212.‏
  • Yu, J., Glazer, N., & Steinberger, Y. (2014). Carbon utilization, microbial biomass, and respiration in biological soil crusts in the Negev Desert. Biology and fertility of soils50(2), 285-293.‏
  • Zaady, E. Crust and dust.‏
  • Zaady, E., & Offer, Z. Y. (2010). Biogenic soil crusts and soil depth: a long‐term case study from the Central Negev desert highland. Sedimentology57(2), 351-358
  • Zaady, E., Offer, Z. Y., & Shachak, M. (2001). The content and contributions of deposited aeolian organic matter in a dry land ecosystem of the Negev Desert, Israel. Atmospheric Environment35(4), 769-776