A First Study of Urginea maritima Rings: A Case Study from Southern Jordan

Hezi Yizhaq, Abdel Rahman Mohammad Said Al-Tawaha, Ilan Stavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vegetation rings are a common pattern in water-limited environments and mostly occur in clonal plants. This study presents, for the first time, rings of the geophyte species Urginea maritima. The rings, typically 40–90 cm in diameter, are abundant in the sandy environment of Little Petra and Wadi Rum, in the southern Jordanian drylands. Soil properties were studied in the rings’ center, periphery, and matrix. Soil-water volumetric content was significantly higher in the rings’ periphery than in the center and matrix. The soil organic carbon was highest in the periphery, intermediate in the center, and lowest in the matrix. At the same time, the soil texture, hydraulic conductivity, and gravimetric moisture content at the hygroscopic level were similar in the three microenvironments. According to the results, a possible ring formation mechanism is the soil-water uptake mechanism, which results in competition between the plants at the periphery and those in the center and is generally attributed to plants with large lateral root zones. Numerical simulations of a mathematical model implemented in this study support the soil-water uptake mechanism. A second possible mechanism is negative plant-soil feedback due to the accumulation of dead biomass and its consequent decomposition, with the resultant release of autotoxic compounds. It is possible that several mechanisms occur simultaneously and synergistically affect the formation of U. maritima rings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number285
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Central dieback
  • Geophyte
  • Plant-soil feedback
  • Soil-water content
  • Vegetation ring
  • Water uptake mechanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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