Impacts of the invasive exotic Prosopis juliflora (Sw.) D.C. on the native flora and soils of the UAE.
The effects of the invasive exotic Prosopis juliflora shrubs on the natural plant communities and soil chemical characters were assessed in two regions of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Five sites were selected subjectively: three in Sharja with 73 stands and two in Ras Al-Khima with 37 stands. Stands were located randomly within each site to cover density variation in Sharja and size variation in Ras Al-Khima. Density, frequency, richness and evenness of the associated annual and perennial species were studied in nine quadrats distributed under, at the margin and outside the canopy of a P. juliflora shrub located in the center of each stand. The results indicated that the effect of P. juliflora on the associated flora depends significantly on the density and size of the canopy. Larger individuals and greater densities have significantly greater negative impacts on the associated plants. All the studied community attributes were significantly lower under P. juliflora canopies than outside. Annuals were inhibited more than perennials. The number of annuals with significant reductions in density and/or frequency under P. juliflora canopies was significantly greater than the number of perennials. Density of more than 50% of the associated annuals was significantly inhibited under P. juliflora canopies. Density of P. juliflora seedlings was greater underneath the canopy of the same species than away from them, indicating little or no self allelopathic effect (auto-inhibition) under field conditions. P. juliflora ameliorated some soil characters, through significant pH reduction and increase in K, N and P and organic matters. Hence, plant diversity might be enhanced following eradication of P. juliflora.