Germination analysis of natural and ecologically-restored sites in phosphate mining fields in Zin Valley, Israel

Tom Zylberberg

Publication Date:

Phosphate mining occurs over 200 km2 of the Negev desert, Israel. However, the effects of the ongoing restoration efforts of the mines have not been studied. Plants and their seed banks have a major role in ecosystem processes, hence requiring major consideration in studying ecological restoration. I focused on three mining sites restored in different years at Zin valley and compared plots. I hypothesized that: (1) there is a lack of seed bank in the restored plots; (2) the altered soil composition at the restored plots inhibits germination. I set up two greenhouse experiments using soil samples collected from the different mining sites: (1) comparison between natural and restored areas treated with planting mixture or vermiculite; (2) addition of native seeds to test their germination potential on restored soil. Results indicated that the lack of a seed bank was the major limiting factor for restoring the plant community and that soil composition did not hinder germination. For two mining sites, abundance was significantly lower in restored plots compared to natural plots and their community composition differed significantly. For the third mining site, no significant differences in abundance or community composition were found. When comparing restored plots of various restoration years, community composition differed significantly. My results indicate that restoration efforts in our area should focus on preserving the seed bank to allow better dispersal of seeds in restored plots. Active seeding in restored plots offers an approach towards vegetation reestablishment.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration