Ten years primary succession on a newly created landfill at a lagoon

of the Mediterranean Sea (Lake Burullus RAMSAR site)

Mohamed A. El-Sheikha,∗, Yassin M. Al-Sodanyb,1, Ebrahem M. Eidb, Kamal H. Shaltoutc

a Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Damanhour University, Damanhour, Egypt

b Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Kafr El-Sheikh University, 33516 Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt

c Botany Department, Faculty of Science, Tanta University, 31527 Tanta, Egypt

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:

Received 10 September 2011

Received in revised form 25 January 2012

Accepted 2 March 2012


Lake Burullus

Annual invasion


Seral succession

Coastal pioneer vegetation


a b s t r a c t

This study was carried out on the transported bed soil dredged from the outlet of Lake Burullus to the

Mediterranean Sea and deposited nearby, forming by this way new land that underwent a primary plant

succession. The multi-methodological approach comprised floristic inventories, vegetation sampling and

soil composition analyses of the study site in order to detect the crucial parameters controlling the plant

resettlement on recently deposited soil as related to time, local micro-topography and substrate characteristics.

Floristic composition was assessed for the first 10 years of primary succession (2001–2010) on

18 stands of the area, distributed on basement, slope stands and plateau of the landfill, respectively. Vegetation

surveys were the basis of multivariate analyses of the vegetation and soil data using TWINSPAN,

DCA and CCA. Relationships between the edaphic gradients, floristic composition and species diversity

were assessed.

Forty-one species were identified (22 annuals and 19 perennials) after ten years development compared

with 7 species at the first year. After application of TWINSPAN and DCA on the data of the first

year of establishment, two simple vegetation groups were recognized and named after their dominant

species, Senecio glaucus and Bassia indica. In comparison, the multivariate analysis of the last

year (i.e. after 10 years of succession) led to identify 4 more advanced vegetation groups: Senecio

glaucus–Cakile maritima–Zygophyllum album, Bassia indica–Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, Arthrocnemum

macrostachyum and Phragmites australis–Limbarda crithmoides. These plant communities are

comparable to the other communities in the same region, showing the tendency to establish the climax

vegetation of Mediterranean coastal areas. The notable edaphic variables that affect the succession

of the vegetation groups in the study area were moisture, salinity, organic matter, minerals (Ca, Na, K, Cl,

SO4), soil texture and human disturbance.

© 2012 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.


Wetlands are of ecological importance due to their hydrological

attributes, their role as ecotones between terrestrial and aquatic

ecosystems, and their high productivity. They are sources, sinks and

transformers of numerous chemical, biological and genetic materials,

and provide valuable habitats for marine resp. coastal animals.

One of these wetlands is Lake Burullus along the deltaic Mediterranean

coast of Egypt which is one of the RAMSAR sites and was

declared by the Egyptian Government as a natural protectorate in

∗ Corresponding author. Present address: Department of Botany & Microbiology,

College of Science, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2455, Riyadh 11451, Saudi Arabia.

Tel.: +20 10 6263985; fax: +20 45 3293011.

E-mail address: el sheikh [email protected] (M.A. El-Sheikh).

1 Present address: Biology Department, Faculty of Science, Taif University, Taif,

Saudi Arabia.

1998 (Shaltout and Al-Sodany, 2008). The outlet that connects the

Mediterranean Sea with Lake Burullus is a natural water pass. Its

length approximates 750 m, width at the narrowest point is about

50 m, and water depth varies between 50 cm and more than 200 cm.

This outlet crosses the marine bar at the narrowest point, where

the soil surface is flat and devoid from sand dunes (Fig. 1). This

outlet was subjected to bigger maintenance works in October 2000

by dredging the sediments from its basin. The soil masses were

put afterwards as a landfill along the shore. Vegetation arose and

developed over this new substrate (i.e. plant succession has been


As vegetation dynamics develop following a chronosequence,

we will expect a simple vegetation composition during the early

years which moves toward more advanced successional stages with

time. Matthews and Whittaker (1987) and Anderson et al. (2000)

showed that factor complexes like exposure, moisture, terrain

and time control such a vegetation succession. As yet, no studies

have dealt with substrate characteristics and time controlling such

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