Eco-regions and Biodiversity map of Turkey
General Information on Biological Diversity in Turkey
Turkey, bridging Europe, Asia and Africa, surrounded from 3 sides with seas of different ecological characteristics, with altitudes ranging from sea level to above 5000 meters resulting in a variety of climatic conditions through the country, has a biological wealth incomparable to any of the neighboring countries. The ecosystem mosaic of several different ecological characteristics provides nesting and breeding areas for thousands of fauna and flora species and their populations. Another factor that increases this wealth is that, two of the four migratory routes of West Palaearctic Region pass above Turkey.
There have been above 11000 plant species identified in Turkey, 3000 of those being endemic species. It is estimated that animal species are around 80000. Turkish nature also constitutes centers of origin and diversity of genetic resources.
Turkey has biogeographically different three regions which are Europe-Siberia, Iranian-Turan, and Mediterranean. These regions consist of different types of ecosystems with their transition zones. Economically the most important ecosystems are steps, since most of the crops grown as a food supply were derived from wild species. Wetlands, as favorable nourishment, reproduction and housing places for lots of species, have high level of biological diversity after Tropical forests. These ecosystems have vital significance for endangered and endemic species.
Turkey is at the crossroads of two important Vavilovian gene centers: -The Mediterranean and the Near East- each important for the origin of field crops as well as horticultural plants. Some of the cultivated plant species originating in Turkey are Linum, Allium, Hordeum, Secale, Triticum, Avena, Cicer, Lens, Pisum, Vitis, Amygladus, Prunus, Beta, etc. There are 5 “micro-gene centre” in Turkey (Harlan 1951):
Thrace-Aegean Region: bread wheat, durum wheat, Poulardwheat, club wheat, einkorn wheat, lentil chickpea, melon, vetch, lupine, and clover.
Southern-Southeastern Anatolia: emmer wheat, einkorn wheat, Aegilops speltoides, squash, water melon, cucumber, bean, lentil, broad bean, grapevine, and forage plants.
Samsun, Tokat, Amasya: numerous genera and species of fruits, broad bean, bean, lentil, and several forage legumes.
Kayseri and environs: almond, apple, pea, fruit species, grapevine, lentil, chickpea, alfalfa, and sainfoin.
Agri and environs: apple, apricot, cherry, sour cherry, forage legumes and watermelon.
Turkey has 75% of the total number of plant species found in the whole of Europe. One third of Turkish flora, which is more than twice as diverse as that of neighbouring countries are found only in Turkey. Cherries, apricots, almonds and figs all originated in Turkey. Turkish flora includes many wild relatives and genetic diversity of important domestic species (e.g. wheat, chickpea, lentil, apple, pear, apricot, chestnut, and pistachio). Turkey is also home to a number of ornamental flowers, the most notable being the tulip. Among continental countries, Turkey ranks 9th in terms of biodiversity richness with over 33% of its flora being endemic.
Map: Iowa State University