Population structure of woody plants in the arid cloud forests of Dhofar, southern Oman

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Abstract

This study evaluates the size frequency distribution of 11 trees and shrubs in the cloud forest in Wadi Garziz, southern Oman, in order to assess their current situation, which is affected by cutting, overgrazing and other constraints. A size class distribution and a vegetation structure analysis were applied in order to analyze the dynamics of this forest using census data from 51 plots selected across 5 transects covering the hill-slope andwadi-bed habitats. Some of the trees inhabiting the hill-slopes (e.g. Acacia senegal and Commiphora spp.) were found to exhibit an inverse J-shaped distribution with constant regeneration, whilst in the wadi bed these same trees exhibited a J-shaped distribution (i.e. of declining populations). On the other hand, Acacia etbaica inhabiting the hill-slopes exhibited a tendency towards a J-shaped distribution and an inverse J-shaped distribution in the wadi-bed. All the populations (i.e. inhabiting the hill-slopes and the beds) of Anogeissus dhofarica had a J-shaped distribution whereas all the populations of Blepharispermum hirtum had a more or less inverse J-shaped distribution. The Ziziphus spina- -christi and Acacia tortilis populations, meanwhile, exhibited the bi-modal shape of size distribution. The shrubs inhabiting the hill-slopes (e.g. Coroton confertus and Ormocarpum dhofarense) exhibited a tendency towards a J-shaped distribution; such distribution characterizes a declining population with a limited regenerational capacity. Overall, most of the examined populations, except those of Acacia etbaica in wadi-bed and Blepharispermum hirtum, seemed to be under stress from both environmental and human factors, particularly in the wadi bed. This type of study can provide a basis for the development of a management plan to support the conservation and sustainable use of forest vegetation in an arid region.

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