Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2015, Vol. 7 Issue (1): 54-62    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-014-0036-2
Research Articles     
Phenology of desert plants from an arid gravel plain in eastern United Arab Emirates
Sabitha SAKKIR1*, Junid N SHAH1, Abdul Jaleel CHERUTH2, Maher KABSHAWI1
1 Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, Wildlife Assessment and Conservation, Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi 45553, United Arab Emirates;
2 Department of Aridland Agriculture, College of Food and Agriculture, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain 15551, United Arab Emirates
Download:   PDF(392KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  Phenological events for desert plants were recorded and rainfall and temperature data were gathered over a three-year time scale at a gravel plain in the eastern region of the United Arab Emirates. Variations of phenological periods were analyzed and correlations between phenological periods and climate factors were discussed. The study showed that the growth and flowering of therophytes were significantly correlated with air temperature. The timing and abundance of rainfall came to be another factor significantly correlated with the onset and duration of chamaephyte flowering as well as the duration of therophyte growth and flowering. The variation in rainfall did not affect the onset of flowering in phanerophytes. Peak growing seasons were from November to March and flowering from November to December (also February to March depending on the availability of rainfall). Flowering in phanerophytes and chamaephytes occurs 4–6 weeks and in therophytes 4–8 weeks after rain. The results showed that variations in growth and phenology between species were correlated with environmental factors, such as temperature and rainfall or, maybe, differences in life form and photosynthetic pathways, each being adapted for utilizing a particular phase of the seasonally and yearly variable rainfall. The sequence of flowering for the species under study was more or less constant despite the difference in the amount of rainfall. The fruiting patterns of most of the species were also found parallel to their flowering patterns. Our results emphasized the need to study multiple species at many sites for the understanding and forecast of regional changes in phenology.

Received: 20 January 2014      Published: 10 February 2015
Corresponding Authors: Sabitha SAKKIR     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Sabitha SAKKIR, Junid N SHAH, Abdul Jaleel CHERUTH, Maher KABSHAWI. Phenology of desert plants from an arid gravel plain in eastern United Arab Emirates. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(1): 54-62.

URL:     OR

Abeli T, Rossi G, Gentili R, et al. 2012. Response of alpine plant flower production to temperature and snow cover fluctuation at the species range boundary. Plant Ecology, 213(1): 1–13.

Abd El-Ghani M M. 1997. Phenology of ten common plant species in Western Saudi Arabia. Journal of Arid Environments, 35: 673–683.

Aronson J, Kigel J, Shmida A, et al. 1992. Adaptive phenology of desert and Mediterranean populations of annual plants grown with and without water stress. Oecologia, 89: 17–26.

Badeck F W, Bondeau A, Böttcher K, et al. 2004. Responses of spring phenology to climate change. New Phytologist, 162: 295–309.

Both C, Bouwhuis S, Lessells C M, et al. 2006. Climate change and population declines in a long-distance migratory bird. Nature, 441: 81–83.

Bottomley N. 1996. Recent climate of Abu Dhabi. In: Osborne P E. Desert Ecology of Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi: National Avian Research Centre, 36–49.

Brown G, Sakkir S. 2004. Flora and vegetation of Jebel Hafit. In: Jebel H. A Natural History. Abu Dhabi: Emirates Natural History Group.

Chang Z F, Zhu S J, Han F G, et al. 2012. Differences in response of desert plants of different ecotypes to climate warming: a case study in Minqin, Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 4(2): 140–150.

Cleland E E, ChuineI M A, Mooney H A, et al. 2007. Shifting seasonal phenology in response to global change. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 22: 357–365.

Chmielewski F M, Rötzer T. 2001. Response of tree phenology to climate change across Europe. Agricultre and Forest Meteorology, 108: 101–112.

Crimmins T M, Crimmins M A, Bertelsen C D. 2013. Spring and summer patterns in flowering onset, duration, and constancy across a water-limited gradient. American Journal of Botany, 100(6): 1137–1147.

Crimmins T M, Bertelsen C D, Crimmins M A. 2014. Within-season flowering interruptions are common in the water-limited Sky Islands. International Journal of Biometeorology, 58: 419–426.

Du J H, Yan P, Dong Y X. 2010. Phenological responses of Nitrariatangutorum to climate change in Minqin County, Gansu Province, North West China. International Journal of Biometeorology, 54: 583–589.

Elsey-Quirk T, Seliskar D M, Gallagher J L. 2011. Differential population response of allocation, phenology, and tissue chemistry in Spartina alterniflora. Plant Ecology, 212(11): 1873–1885.

Evenari M, Shanan L, Tadmor N. 1982. The Negev: Challenge of a Desert (2nd ed). Cambridge: Havard University.

Fründ J, Dormann C F, Holzschuh A, et al. 2013. Bee diversity effects on pollination depend on functional complementarity and niche shifts. Ecology, 94: 2042–2054.

Ghazanfar S A. 1997. The phenology of desert plants: a 3-year study in a gravel desert wadi in northern Oman. Journal of Arid Environments, 35: 407–417.

Inouye D W, Barr B, Armitage K B, et al. 2000. Climate change is affecting altitudinal migrants and hibernating species. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, USA, 97: 1630–1633.

Jongbloed M. 2003. The Comprehensive Guide to the Wild Flowers of the United Arab Emirates. Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), Abu Dhabi: United Arab Emirates.

Kariyeva J, Leeuwen, J D, Woodhouse C A. 2012. Impacts of climate gradients on the vegetation phenology of major land use types in Central Asia (1981–2008). Frontiers of Earth Science, 6: 206–225.

Kemp P R. 1983. Phenological patterns of Chihuahuan desert plants in relation to the timing of water availability. Journal of Ecology, 71: 427–436.

Khanduri V P, Charma C M, Singh S P. 2008. The effects of climate change on plant phenology. Environmentalist, 28: 143–147.

Matsumoto K, Ohta T, Irasawa M, et al. 2003. Climate change and extension of the Gingko biloba L. growing season in Japan. Global Change Biology, 9: 1634–1642.

McEwan R W, Brecha R J, Geiger D R, et al. 2011. Flowering phenology change and climate warming in southwestern Ohio. Plant Ecology, 212(1): 55–61.

McLaren K P, McDonald M A. 2005. Seasonal patterns of flowering and fruiting in a dry tropical forest in Jamaica. Biotropica, 37(4): 584–590.

Menzel A. 2002. Phenology: its importance to the global change community. Climate Change, 54: 379–385.

Morellato P C, Camargo M G, Gressler E. 2013. A review of plant phenology in South and Central America. Phenology: An Integrative Environmental Science, 91–113.

Palladini J D,  Maron J L. 2012. Indirect competition for pollinators is weak compared to direct resource competition: pollination and performance in the face of an invader. Oecologia, 1–9.

Post E, Forchhammer M C. 2008. Climate change reduces reproductive success of an Arctic herbivore through trophic mismatch. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 363: 2367–2373.

Raunkiaer C. 1934. The Life Forms of Plants and Statistical Plant Geography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rossi B E, Debandi G O, Peralta I E, Palle Martinez E. 1999. Comparitive phenology and floral patterns in Larrea species (Zygophyllaceae) in the Monte desert (Mendoza, Argentina). Journal of Arid Environments, 43: 213–226.

Stenseth N C, Mysterud A. 2002. Climate, changing phenology, and other life history and traits: nonlinearity and match–mismatch to the environment. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, USA, 99: 13379–13381.

Struck M. 1994. Flowering phenology in the arid water rainfall region of Southern Africa. Bothalia, 24(1): 77–79.

Suzuki R, Nomaki T, Yasunari T. 2003. West–east contrast of phenology and climate in northern Asia revealed using a re-motely sensed vegetation index. International Journal of Bio-meteorology, 47(3): 126–138.

Valdez-Hernández M, Andrade J L, Jackson P C, et al. 2010. Phenology of five tree species of a tropical dry forest in Yucatan, Mexico: effects of environmental and physiological factors. Plant and Soil, 329: 155–171.

Visser M E, Both C. 2005. Shifts in phenology due to global climate change: the need for a yardstick. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272: 2561–2569.

Walter H. 1973. Vegetation of the Earth. London: Springer-Verlag.

Winder M, Cloern J E. 2010. The annual cycles of phytoplankton biomass. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 365: 3215–3226.
No related articles found!