Modeling herbaceous productivity considering tree-grass interactions in drylands savannah: The case study of Yatir farm in the Negev drylands

Amir Mussery, David Helman*, Stefan Leu, Arie Budovsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Savanization is an efficient strategy to confront desertification by increasing herbaceous productivity in drylands providing income to local population relying on grazing. Hence, to assess successful savanization herbaceous production must be estimated accurately. The conventional technique uses random sampling, which might misestimate productivity underneath the canopies due to tree-grass interactions. Here we present an improved model to assess biomass production accounting for tree-grass effects using a stratified sampling technique. Our model calculates biomass underneath the canopy in two configurations: (a) a cone shape, accounting for gradual changes along the bole-to-drip line with radiuses representing topographic aspects, and (b) a cylindrical shape, accounting for biomass underneath the canopy not affected by the tree. We tested our model in the Acacia victoriae savannah of Yatir at the Northern Negev drylands, Israel. Results showed that biomass underneath the canopy were up to 3-fold higher than the measured in between trees. Although the total canopied area was only 4.4% of the savannah, biomass underneath canopies constituted 7% of the total savannah production. Thus, conventional sampling might significantly underestimate biomass production in denser savannah. Our model was adjusted to multi-species savannah and different geographic aspects and could be used in drylands systems elsewhere.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)160-164
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Personal grants from the JNF-Rieger Foundation, USA and the Hydrological Service of Israel are acknowledged by David Helman. This work carried out in collaboration with The Sustainability Laboratory ( ) and funded by Project Wadi Attir is dedicated to Yekuel family. We thank Oren and Eren families, Yatir farm owners, for aiding this research and three anonymous reviewers for providing valuable comments that improved the final version of this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Acacia victoriae
  • Biomass
  • Facilitative effect
  • Model
  • Stratified sampling


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling herbaceous productivity considering tree-grass interactions in drylands savannah: The case study of Yatir farm in the Negev drylands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this