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Keywords:

  • Fuel-break;
  • Geophyte;
  • Israel;
  • Phenology;
  • Plant Functional Type
  • Feinbrun-Dothan & Danin (1991)

Abstract. Fuel-breaks to impede the spread of fires in Mediterranean woody vegetation are created by clearing of shrubs, followed by very intensive cattle grazing before the fire season. The present research analysed the effects of these two disturbance types on herbaceous community composition at the functional group and the species level, by using canonical discriminant ordination analysis and by categorical modeling methods. Grazing caused an increase in the abundance of small species, geophytes, and species with an early flowering period that ends before the grazing period. The abundance of many different species increased as a result of clearing. However, no association was found between positive or negative response to clearing and any species attribute tested. Several a priori functional groups defined by life form and family showed responses to either grazing or clearing. Links between these responses and individual species attributes are discussed. The results emphasize the different nature of the two disturbances: grazing as a selective agent, and shrub clearing as a generalized one. It also stresses the importance of the plant architecture and the morphological and phenological niche in determining community composition under extremely intensive grazing conditions.