While rainfall is critical in germination and establishment, established acacias extract water from deep, permanently moist strata and their use of water is stable despite interannual and seasonal variation in soil water availability in the upper soil layers (Do et al. 2008). In the study area the two subspecies of A. tortilis constitute by far the most important reliable vegetation resource for local
nomads (Krzywinski and Pierce 2001; Andersen 2012). They provide products such as fodder, fuel, and wood and ecosystem services such as shade and shelter for BYL719 supplier people and animals, improved soil fertility, and increased biodiversity by providing Selleckchem MM-102 diverse microhabitats and resources for other species. A. tortilis is thereby MK-0457 mouse recognizable as a keystone species in ecological terms (Munzbergova and Ward 2002). In absolute terms the species diversity and numbers of trees increase southwards along with the moisture gradient. The numbers and cultural diversity of people also increase from north to south. Within the study area are five major nomadic tribes, from north to south: the Semitic, Arabic-speaking Ma‘aza and Ababda, and the Cushitic Bidhaawyeet-speaking Beja: Bishaari, Amar Ar and Hadandawa (see Fig. 1). The latter three are often collectively referred
to as the Beja in this paper. The Ma‘aza are Bedouin whose hearth is in northwest Saudi Arabia and who settled in the northern Eastern Desert beginning about 300 years ago (Hobbs 1989). The Ababda,
though now mainly Arabic speakers, share a common heritage with the Bidhaawyeet speaking Beja tribes (Riad 1974). The Beja claim to be autochthonous and to have millennia-old antecedents among the Medjay and the Blemmyes, attested to in the archaeological record as early as 1800 BCE (El-Sayed 2004; Liszka 2011; Krzywinski 2012; Näser 2012; Pierce 2012). All these tribes share a number of culture traits, notably a segmentary patrilineal kinship structure (but see Manger et al. 1996, p. 150 and Hasan 1973, p. 59) in which personal identity, social affiliations and many economic Dolutegravir activities are rooted in lineage, clan and tribe (Hobbs 1989; Krzywinski and Pierce 2001; Barnard and Duistermaat 2012; Krzywinski 2012). They also share a strikingly similar use of resources. All tribes have moved about with their animals to optimize uses of fodder (including acacia products) and water resources. The degree and range of their movements have depended on the number and types of their herd animals (Hjort af Ornäs and Dahl 1991)—camels, sheep and goats—and on the aridity gradient that imposes increasingly rigorous demands the further north they live. Acacias in the strategies of pastoral nomadism Due to the unpredictable spatial and temporal nature of desert rainfall, these nomads must adapt themselves to uncertainty.