Diversity in soil seed bank of Sinai and implications for conservation and restoration
Understanding the diversity level of seed bank is important for designing conservation and restoration programs especially in arid ecosystems. A diverse of diversity indices has been used in evaluating seed communities regardless of its suitability to measure the ecological quality of the targeted biological community. The current study aims to evaluate the spatial variability in the seed bank of Sinai Peninsula, and to evaluate the suitability of different diversity indices for application. Two hundred and twenty samples were collected from fifty-nine sites representing twenty-three localities in North and South Sinai. These localities belong to four main geomorphological districts; Mediterranean coast, northern anticlines, northern inlands, and southern mountainous massif. The content of soil seed bank in each sample was estimated by emergence method. Thirty-two species were identified including eight endemic and near-endemic species. The suitability of indices was evaluated by testing the relationships of the indices with the associating environmental factors and contribution of each index to group separation. The results of the study show that Sinai has a large scale of soil seed bank diversity that could be used in any conservation and restoration plans. The study suggests also, that the most suitable diversity indices to measure this diversity are Margalef and Q-Statistic without neglecting the importance of reporting on abundance and richness.
Key words: Sinai, soil seed bank, arid environments, diversity indices, conservation, restoration.