LTER site established at 2001

Site manager: Marcelo Sternberg

Contact: Marcelo Sternberg

Operating Organization: Tel-Aviv University


General Site Description:

The Matta LTER station studies the effects of climate change on the structure and function of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems in Israel

Purpose of Site:

The Matta LTER station studies the effects of climate change on the structure and function of Mediterranean shrubland ecosystems in Israel. At the Matta LTER, current experimental studies are carried out using rainout shelters (25 x 10 m) for studying the effects of drought on changes in the composition and structure of this ecosystem. Two type of scenarios are being study.

History of site:

It was established in 2001 within the framework of the GLOWA Jordan River project. The study area represents abandoned terraces on hilly slopes transformed in Mediterranean shrublands and used for cattle and sheep grazing 

Monitored parameters: primary production, species richness, species abundance, population size, air humidity, wind speed, air temperature, soil moisture, soil texture, potential evaporation, land cover



  • Angert, A., Weiner, T., Mazeh, S., Tamburini, F., Frossard, E., Bernasconi, S.M., Sternberg, M . (2011) Seasonal variability of soil phosphate stable oxygen isotopes in rainfall manipulation experiments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 75: 4216-4227.
  • Angert, A., Weiner, T., Mazeh, S., Sternberg, M. (2012) Soil phosphate stable oxygen isotopes across rainfall and bedrock gradients. Environmental and Science Technology 46: 2156−2162.
  • Ariza C, Tielboerger K (2011) An evolutionary approach to studying the relative importance of plant–plant interactions along environmental gradients. Functional Ecology 25: 932-942.
  • Ariza C, Tielboerger K (2012) Biomass explains the intensity of facilitative – not competitive – interactions: three intraspecific tests with annuals. Web Ecology 12: 49-55.
  • Fleischer, A., Sternberg, M. (2006) The economic impact of global climate change on Mediterranean rangeland ecosystems: a Space-for-Time approach. Ecological Economics 59: 287-29.
  • Har-Edom, O. L., Sternberg, M. (2010) Invasive species and climate change: Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronquist as a tool for assessing the invasibility of natural plant communities along an aridity gradient. Biological Invasions 12: 1953-1960.
  • Harel, D. Holzapfel, C., Sternberg, M. (2011) Seed mass and dormancy of annual plant populations and communities decreases with aridity and rainfall predictability Basic & Applied Ecology 12 :674-684.
  • Holzapfel, C., Tielboerger, K., Parag, H., Kigel, J., Sternberg, M. (2006) Annual plant-shrub interactions along an aridity gradient in Israel. Basic and Applied Ecology 7: 268-279.
  • Lebrija-Trejos, E., Cardiel Lobato, C., Sternberg, M. (2011) Reproductive traits and seed dynamics at two environmentally contrasting annual plant communities: from fieldwork to theoretical expectations. Israel Journal of Ecology & Evolution 57: 73-90
  • Metz, J., Liancourt, P. Kigel, J. Harel, D., Sternberg , M., Tielbörger, K. (2010). Plant survival in relation to seed size and dormancy along environmental gradients: A long-term study from semi-arid and Mediterranean plant communities. Journal of Ecology 98: 697-704.
  • Petru, M., Tielboerger, K., Belkin, R., Sternberg, M., Jeltsch, F. (2006) Life history variation in an annual plant under two opposing selective forces along a steep climatic gradient. Ecography 29: 66-74.
  • Petru M, Tielboerger K (2008) Germination behavior of annual plants under changing climatic conditions: separating local and regional environmental effects. Oecologia 155: 717-728.
  • Rysavy, A., Seifan, M., Sternberg, M., Tielbörger, K. (2014) Shrub seedling dynamics under climate change – comparing establishment and survival along natural and experimental rainfall gradients. Journal of Arid Environments 111: 14-21.
  • Rysavy, A., Seifan, M., Sternberg, M., Tielbörger, K. (2015) Neighbour effects on shrub seedling establishment override climate change impacts in a Mediterranean community. Journal of Vegetation Science – in press
  • Samocha, Y., Shenklar, G., Korol, L., Sternberg, M. (2009) From mesic to arid environments: morphological and genetic divergence in Asphodelus aestivus Brot. populations. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences 57: 91-102.
  • Samocha, Y., Sternberg, M. (2010). Herbivory by sucking mirid bugs can reduce nectar production in Asphodelus aestivus Brot. Arthropods-Plant Interactions 4: 153-158.
  • Sherman, C., Sternberg, M., Steinberger, Y. (2012) Effects of climate change on soil respiration and carbon processing in Mediterranean and semi-arid regions: An experimental approach. European Journal of Soil Biology 52: 48-58.
  • Talmon, Y., Sternberg, M., Grünzweig, J.M. (2011) Impact of precipitation change and spatial heterogeneity on soil respiration under a combination of aridity gradient and rainfall manipulation. Global Change Biology 17: 1108-1118.
  • Tielbörger, K., Bilton, M.C., Metz, J., Kigel, J., Holzapfel, C., Lebrija-Trejos, E., Konsens, I.Parag, H., Sternberg, M. (2014) Middle-Eastern plant communities tolerate 9 years of drought in a multi-site climate manipulation experiment. Nature Communication 5 doi:10.1038/ncomms6102
  • Tielbörger, K., Fleischer, A., Menzel, L. Metz, J. Sternberg, M. (2010) The aesthetics of water and land – a promising concept for managing scarce water resources under climate change. Philosophical Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A 368: 5323-5337
  • Tielboerger K, Petru M (2010) An experimental test for effects of the maternal environment on delayed germination. Journal of Ecology 98: 1216-1223,
  • Tielboerger K, Petru M, Lampei C (2012) Bet-hedging germination in annual plants: a sound empirical test of the theoretical foundations. Oikos 121: 1860-186.
  • Zwikel S, Laveeh H, Sarah P (2007) Temporal dynamics in arylsulfatase enzyme activity in various microenvironments along a climatic transect in Israel. Geoderma 140: 30-41.