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Did you Know?
  • The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) calves are born a sandy brown colour and only change to their adult white at about six months of age

The Research conducted in the DDCR since 2003 provides an essential management tool, enabling the decision-making process to be based on sound scientific principles. It is providing baseline data for future surveys and research, thereby ensuring the preservation and improvement of the biodiversity and unique desert environment.

Research Reports


Hyper-arid tall shrub species have differing long term responses to browsing management

Hyper-arid rangeland vegetation is typically dominated by large woody species which are often overlooked in herbivory studies. Long-term responses of tall shrub populations to herbivory change are poorly understood in the Arabian Peninsula.
2019  | Full Report (PDF)

Macromorphology and recruitment of Prosopis cineraria in the United Arab Emirates

Recruitment frequency of Prosopis cinerariain the United Arab Emirates is poorly understood, though heavy browsing by camels is often assumed to be a limiting factor. Macromorphological characteristics were recorded at eight locations from the northern United Arab Emirates.
2016  | Full Report (PDF, 0.544 MB)

Plant Species Identification via Drone Images in an Arid Shrubland

The Arabian Peninsula is famous for its vast areas of desert rangelands and described by its sparse and low vegetation diversity. It is prohibitively expensive to monitor these lands by using satellite or manned aircraft due to its scale; while, ground monitoring is very labour intensive. In the present study, we aimed to assess whether low altitude aerial photography via drones stratified sampling could provide a feasible alternative to ground-based monitoring of vegetation.
2016  | Full Report (PDF, 0.258 MB)

Ecological monitoring of arid rangelands using fixed-wing micro-UAVs (drones) in the MENA region

It is often stated that rangelands suffer from overgrazing and excess water extraction, but there is a lack of reliable historical data to support these claims. Data exists in well managed reserves such as the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), but it is labour intensive and expensive to maintain a routine system of monitoring.
2015  | Full Report (PDF, 0.522 MB)

Impacts of Surviving and Dead Shrubs and Grasses on Floral Diversity and Community Structure of Sandy Dunes of the UAE

Desertification of sandy areas driven by wind erosion in the Arabian Gulf region often results in the dominance of few shrubs and grasses, while most of the land are devoid of vegetation. The impact of surviving and dead shrubs and grasses on floral diversity and plant community structure was assessed on stabilized sand dunes in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
2011  | Full Report (PDF, 0.139 MB)

A Comparative Study of Vegetation Structure and Regeneration between two Monitoring Surveys in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

The objective of the study was to compare the structure and the regeneration patterns of the vegetation between two monitoring surveys in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
2009  | Full Report (PDF, 3.4MB)

Camel grazing affects species diversity and community structure in the deserts of the UAE

Camel grazing plays a crucial role in the desert ecosystems of the UAE. In this study, we compare areas grazed by small antelope (Al Maha Resort – the AMR) with areas grazed by both camels and small antelope (Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve – the DDCR).
2008  | Full Report (PDF, 0.345 MB)

Effects of camel grazing on density and species diversity of seedling emergence in the Dubai (UAE) inland desert

Germination in the arid rangelands of the UAE occurs as an ‘event’ following a mid-winter to spring rainfall. A fence line study of germination events was conducted in 2005 and 2006 to identify the response to differential grazing regimes.
2007  |  Full Report (PDF, 475kB)

Intensification of rangeland grazing in an oil-rich state; causes, consequences and possible solutions

Over the last 35 years land management and farmer lifestyles have changed dramatically on the rangelands of the United Arab Emirates. The human relationship with the rangelands has moved from subsistence to a secondary income or hobby.
2006  |  Full Report (PDF, 148kB)

Effects of camel grazing on the ecology of small perennial plants in the Dubai (UAE) inland desert

Camel grazing is recognized as a primary cause of ecological degradation in the UAE. A study of perennial plant species <1m in height was conducted along a fence separating continuously camel grazed land from land in which camels had been replaced by oryx and gazelle species for 5 years (Al Maha).
2005  |  Full Report (PDF, 239kB)

Effects of camel vs. Oryx and gazelle grazing on the plant ecology of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Grazing of the Dubai inland desert has changed substantially over the last century, and particularly over the last three decades. Populations of oryx, ostriches and gazelles have been replaced by an increased camel herd, which are at least 2.5 times historical levels.
2005  |  Full Report (PDF, 128kB)

Preservation of natural and cultural heritage on Dubai arid rangelands amid changing farmer lifestyles

Plant biomass of arid rangelands within the United Arab Emirates has been reduced by excessive grazing, and probably also by groundwater extraction. The reduction of annual plant biomass production is severe but reversible.
2005  |  Poster (PDF, 354kB)

Vegetation of Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, 2004

During the period of Jun 2004 until Feb 2005 a study was carried out to assess and quantify the vegetation cover and plant community in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR).
2004  |  Full Report (PDF, 5.2MB)  |  Executive Summary (PDF, 2.3MB)


Are Desert Rodents a Suitable Indicator for Assessing Change in Ecosystem Health in the United Arab Emirates Inland Deserts?

Given their reliance on vegetation for feeding and shelter, and importance as prey species, rodents present a potentially useful bioindicator of arid desert ecosystem health.
2019  | Full Report (PDF, 3.94 MB)

Investigating optimal pit fall trap rim circumference for sampling surface dwelling arthropods in a desert habitat

Pitfall trapping is one of the most extensively used methods for sampling surface foraging arthropods in ecological monitoring and biodiversity studies.
2018  | Full Report (PDF, 0.403 MB)

Body Condition Scoring for the Arabian Oryx of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Medium-sized antelope, the Arabian Oryx is an indigenous species to step and desert areas of the Arabian Peninsula.
2018  | Full Report (PDF, 7.72 MB)

Conservation of the Asian Houbara Bustard in the UAE-Cultural contexts and Initiatives

Over the past few decades the Asian Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii), and the African Houbara Bustard (Chlamydotis undulata) have been classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
2019  | Full Report (PDF, 1.48 MB)

Movement patterns of two Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) within a midsized reservation

Movement behaviour of ungulates within a mid-sized arid rangeland reservation has implications for both conservation management and tourism. In this qualitative study, one male and one female Arabian oryx were tracked each 15 minutes for eight months using GPS collars in the 226 km2 Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.
2015  | Full Report (PDF, 1.533 MB)

Rodent community Structure and dynamics in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

The study aimed to provide a baseline survey of the rodent communities in DDCR; and to assess the community structure and the distribution of the individual rodent species and species distribution patterns on different habitat types (Sand Dunes and Gravel Plains)
2012  | Full Report (PDF, 4.894 MB)

Density of dens of the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Arabian red fox den density, occupation rates, and habitat preference was investigated within the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. A total of 168 dens were located, of which only 64 were active. Dens sites were mainly established in sandy plains with predominance of Leptadenia pyrotecnica (order: family), with low human disturbance. A single camera trap was used on a rotational basis at six different dens to provide further insight into den utilization by Arabian fox.
2011  | Full Report (PDF, 0.357 MB)

Leptien’s Spiny-tailed Lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia leptieni) in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Leptien’s spiny-tailed lizard (Uromastyx aegyptia leptieni), endemic to the UAE and Oman, are large herbivorous lizards found on gravel terrain and inter-dune compact soils. They can grow up to 75cm long and usually live in loose colonies.
2009  |  Full Report (PDF, 20MB)  |  Poster (PDF, 4.1MB)

Re-introduction of Arabian Oryx into the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) are endemic to the Arabian Peninsula, with a historically range across Oman, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Kuwait and Iraq. They are the largest of the antelopes in the region and are extremely well adapted to the extremely arid environment and are culturally significant.
2007  |  Full Report (PDF, 199kB)  |  Poster (PDF, 1.4MB)

Camera Trap Survey in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

In order to achieve the aim conserving the natural resources of Dubai’s inland desert and to restore the natural fauna and flora to its original bio-diversity it was decide to carry out a number of surveys to assess the current situation.
2006  |  Full Report (PDF, 1MB)  |  Poster (PDF, 2.9MB)


A New Species of the Genus Palarus

A new species, Palarus inexspectatus, is described from Dubai.It is closely similar to Palarus jaxartes Pulawski and Prentice, from which it differs by details of the elevation of the sternum II and color, the male also by the flagellomeres II-IX distinctly angulate near the midlength.
2016  | Full Report (PDF, 1.814 MB)

A preliminary survey of flower visiting by aculeate wasps and bees in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, UAE

The present contribution is a first brief attempt to give an overview of flower visiting by aculeate wasps and bees in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR), and as far as has been established the first of its kind for the United Arab Emirates.
2016  | Full Report (PDF, 15.138 MB)

Spiders of an open desert eco-systems

The Arachnid Survey in the DDCR was done over several days. 99 specimens was collected during the survey comprising a total of Nine Families; Araneidae, Eresidae, Gnaphosidae, Lycosidae, Oxyopidae, Pholcidae, Saticidae, Sparassidae, and Zodariidae.
2015  | Full Report (PDF, 3.914 MB)

Insect Biodiversity and Distribution of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve

This Arthropod study was conducted in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). The reserve is located on the border between Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The habitats of the reserve are dominated mainly by low-to-medium size sand dunes and interspersed gravel plains.
2013  | Full Report (PDF, 2.468 MB)

A Presence/ Absence Study in an Arid Desert Environment

This Arthropod study was conducted in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR). The reserve is located on the border between Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The habitats of the reserve are dominated mainly by low-to-medium size sand dunes and interspersed gravel plains. This reserve is a perfect site to observe and collect different Arthropod species.
2011  | Full Report (PDF, 3.609 MB)

Biosphere Expeditions


Proximity to urban fringe recreational facilities increases native biodiversity in an arid rangeland

Urban development’s affect neighbouring ecosystems in multiple ways, usually decreasing native biodiversity. Arabian arid rangeland was studied to identify the primary causes of biodiversity variation.
2018  | Full Report (PDF)

Ecosystems as Commodity Frontiers - Challenges Faced by Land Set Aside as Protected Areas

This chapter examines natural habitats in Dubai, UAE that the state has demarcated as protected areas (PAs) in an attempt to utilise them for recreational/economic purposes while also mitigating habitat fragmentation.
2019  | Full Report (PDF)