Populations of sand-living organisms in Israel have decreased due to the stabilization of the coastal dunes and their massive cover by a few shrub species. This study examined the impact of the removal of the above-ground shrub growth on sand-living (psammophile) annual plants and small mammals. After 3 years, the annual plant composition in the cleared plots was similar to the uncleared plots. However, several species specific to open sandy habitats were more abundant after clearing the scrub. This was expressed in the higher Shannon-Wiener diversity index obtained for the cleared plots. Likewise, the small rodents Mus musculus, Rattus rattus, and the shrew Crocidura russula avoided entering the cleared plots, while Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi (an endemic sand-living gerbil) and the Tristram's jird Meriones tristrami were well established there. The deliberate removal of dense shrub cover is proposed as part of the management of Mediterranean coastal dunes, with the intention of preserving the whole shifting dune ecosystem by cheap means and with lower level of human intervention. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
- Annual plants
- Small mammals