The peace treaty between Israel and Jordan found the Arava desert ecosystem, shared by the two countries, in a state of developmental dichotomy. On the Israeli side, vast lands have been settled and transformed into agricultural fields, while the Jordanian side has remained relatively intact and inhabited by only a few traditional and pastoral societies. This study examined the effect of different landscape units and proximity to agriculture on reptile diversity and rodent community structure on both sides of the border. It appears that in addition to the effect of proximity to agricultural fields and landscape habitat, the border between the two countries may play a role in determining diversity on the respective sides. While reptile abundance was generally higher on the Israeli side of the border, diversity was found to be significantly higher on the Jordanian side. Rodent community structure also revealed significant differences between the two sides of the border, mainly due to the more favorable conditions for psammophilic gerbils in Jordan. When comparing Western society with pastoral traditional society, it appears that development activities of the former have altered diversity and community structure of the taxa studied in the Arava. We suggest that in addition to the effects of habitats and human disturbances, such as modern agricultural practices, cultural differences between societies should be considered when conservation plans are developed for cross-border ecosystems.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation