Botanical Composition and Species Diversity of Arid and Desert Rangelands in Tataouine, Tunisia
Natural rangelands occupy about 5.5 million hectares of Tunisia’s landmass, and 38% of this area is in Tataouine governorate. Although efforts towards natural restoration are increasing rapidly as a result of restoration projects, the area of degraded rangelands has continued to expand and the severity of desertification has continued to intensify. Any damage caused by disturbances, such as grazing and recurrent drought, may be masked by a return of favorable rainfall conditions. In this work, conducted during March 2018, we surveyed the botanical composition and species diversity of natural rangelands in Tataouine in southern Tunisia. The flora comprised about 279 species belonging to 58 families, with 54% annuals and 46% perennials. The Asteraceae family had the greatest richness of species, followed by Poaceae, Fabaceae, Amaranthaceae, Brassicaceae, Boraginaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Lamiaceae, Apiaceae, and Cistaceae. Therophytes made the highest contribution, followed by chamaephytes and hemicryptophytes. Of all these species, 40% were palatable to highly palatable and more than 13% are used in both traditional and modern medicine.