Flora of the En Bokek oasis: Field survey and historical search
I. Blecher1*, M. Blecher2
1 Dead Sea and Arava Science Center
2 En Gedi Nature Reserve, Israel Nature and Parks Authority
A B S T R A C T
This report presents floristic inventory of the En Bokek (Boqeq) oasis, Dead Sea area. Our goals included survey of the plant species presently growing in the oasis and examination of the possible floristic changes at the site over time. The current vascular flora of En Bokek was documented by systematic repeated sampling in two polygons covering the entire habitats of Bokek stream and Noit spring. Ranked abundance level was recorded for each species. Side by side with the field xploration, we conducted a search for relevant historical information (literature, herbarium collections and unpublished notes of botanists). As a result, we have identified 193 plant species that occupied the study area in the past or are present there today. Our field inventory contains more than twice as many species previously recorded for the site, most of them are common for the Dead Sea area.
Although we have documented local extinction of some native species and invasion of alien taxa, the survey results suggest that the oasis still supports populations of threatened and rare plant species. The observed floristic changes in the last decades can be related to salinization of Bokek spring water due to aquifer contamination. The floristic description of the En Bokek oasis should serve a basis for this site adaptive management planning and implementation, including ecological restoration. Recommendations are given for a long-term monitoring of the oasis flora overall and of selected species in particular, for reintroduction of plant species that occupied the site in the past and for prevention of biological invasions from the gardens located in the site vicinity.
Keywords: Native species, Threatened species, Alien species, Historical reference, Reintroduction, Prevention of invasion, Voucher specimen, Dead Sea area
Published: March 2020
Article Type: Research article