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Ecosystem and Biodiversity Hotspots in the Mediterranean Basin: Threats and Conservation Efforts

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The Mediterranean Basin (MB) is home to a tremendous diversity of habitats and species. IUCN has designated the region as a biodiversity hotspot, because of its rich biodiversity and its threatened status. The MB has high levels of plant diversity and endemism but relatively poor representation of mammals and birds compared to other similar biodiversity hotspots. The mammal and bird faunas are largely derived from extra-Mediterranean biogeographical zones, with Eurasian and African elements dominating the mammal fauna, whereas Eurasian and semi-arid southern elements dominate the avifauna. The North African mammal fauna has closer affinities with tropical Africa than with the Mediterranean Basin. On the other hand, the reptile and amphibian faunas comprise mainly of Mediterranean species and have higher levels of endemism. There are now roughly 400 million people living in the Mediterranean Basin and their environmental impact on ecosystems and biodiversity species is very important. Water shortages and desertification are serious problems in most Mediterranean countries. Also, rapid population growth and the spread of mechanized agriculture have driven the replacement of biodiversity-friendly means of cultivation with more intensive land management systems. Many existing and proposed protected areas suffer from pollution and water shortages. The establishment of biosphere reserves, which allow for the sustainable use of land and resources, has proved successful in some areas where state authorities recognize their value. In the last decades, Mediterranean countries have recognized the imperative need for biodiversity preservation and ecosystems balance, in order to avoid the severe consequences of biodiversity loss. This is clearly reflected in the fact that most countries within the Mediterranean region are contracting parties to major international/regional conventions, agreements and legislative frameworks that deal with or are closely related to biodiversity issues.
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EcosystemsandBiodiversityHotspotsintheMediterraneanBasin
ThreatsandConservationEfforts
Athanasios Valavanidis, Thomais Vlachogianni
DepartmentofChemistry,FacultyofNaturalSciences,UniversityofAthens,UniversityCampus
Zografou,15784Athens,Greece
valavanidis@chem.uoa.gr,thvlach@chem.uoa.gr
Abstract
TheMediterraneanBasin(MB)ishometoatremendousdiversityofhabitatsandspecies.IUCNhas
designatedtheregionasabiodiversityhotspot,becauseofitsrichbiodiversityanditsthreatened
status.TheMBhashighlevelsofplantdiversityandendemismbutrelativelypoorrepresentationof
mammalsandbirdscomparedtoothersimilarbiodiversityhotspots.Themammalandbirdfaunas
arelargelyderivedfromextraMediterraneanbiogeographicalzones,withEurasianandAfrican
elementsdominatingthemammalfauna,whereasEurasianandsemiaridsouthernelements
dominatetheavifauna.TheNorthAfricanmammalfaunahascloseraffinitieswithtropicalAfrica
thanwiththeMediterraneanBasin.Ontheotherhand,thereptileandamphibianfaunascomprise
mainlyofMediterraneanspeciesandhavehigherlevelsofendemism.
Therearenowroughly400millionpeoplelivingintheMediterraneanBasinandtheirenvironmental
impactonecosystemsandbiodiversityspeciesisveryimportant.Watershortagesand
desertificationareseriousproblemsinmostMediterraneancountries.Also,rapidpopulationgrowth
andthespreadofmechanizedagriculturehavedriventhereplacementofbiodiversityfriendly
meansofcultivationwithmoreintensivelandmanagementsystems.Manyexistingandproposed
protectedareassufferfrompollutionandwatershortages.Theestablishmentofbiospherereserves,
whichallowforthesustainableuseoflandandresources,hasprovedsuccessfulinsomeareas
wherestateauthoritiesrecognizetheirvalue.
Inthelastdecades,Mediterraneancountrieshaverecognizedtheimperativeneedforbiodiversity
preservationandecosystemsbalance,inordertoavoidthesevereconsequencesofbiodiversityloss.
ThisisclearlyreflectedinthefactthatmostcountrieswithintheMediterraneanregionare
contractingpartiestomajorinternational/regionalconventions,agreementsandlegislative
frameworksthatdealwithorarecloselyrelatedtobiodiversityissues.
Inordertoachievegreaterprogresstowardsbiodiversityconservationandaverttheaccelerating,
catastrophiclossofthevarietyoflifeformsintheMediterraneanregion,thereisanurgentneedfor
asetofactionsandresponsescloselylinkedwithambitiousshortandlongtermpost2010targets,
aimingtotacklesufficientlyandeffectivelytheindirectanddirectdriversofbiodiversitylossinthe
Mediterraneanregion.

1.Introduction:MediterraneantypeEcosystemsandBiodiversity
Mediterraneantypeecosystems(MTEs)areamongthemostheavilyutilizedbymanandforthe
longestperiodsoftime.MTEsarefrequentlyunderstressduetoincreasingpopulationpressuresand
unsustainableagriculturaland/orlandintensivemanagementpractices,urbanizationandindustrial
activities.Theseanthropogenicactivities,aswellas,strongecologicalconstraints,likelongsummer
droughtsaffecttheirstabilityandbiodiversity.13.
Mediterraneanecosystemsrivaltropicalecosystemsintermsofplantbiodiversityandthecomplex
biogeographicalscenemakesconservationadifficulttask.Species,habitat,ecosystemand
landscapeapproacheshavebeenusedtoidentifyconservationtargetsatvariousscales.
Conservationdecisionsforbiodiversityrequireadequateinformationatspecies,communityand
habitatlevel.Despiterecentimprovementsandefforts,thisinformationisstillincompleteand
fragmented.4
StudiesconcerningMTEsshowedthattheyareamongthemostthreatenedonEarth.Themost
importantanthropogeniceffectinthatrespectwastheconversionofMTEstofarmlandandurban
areas,estimatedtobearound40%.Worldwide,only5%oftheMediterraneantypenaturalareais
protected.ForeveryacreofMediterraneanhabitatsaved,eightacreshavebeenpermanentlylost.5
TheMediterraneanbiomeisprojectedtoexperiencethelargestproportionallossofbiodiversityof
allterrestrialbiomesduetoitssignificantsensitivitytomultiplebiodiversitythreats,including
climatechangeandinteractionsamongthesethreats.Althoughtheycover2.2%ofEarth’sland
surface,theyaccountfor20%ofallknownplantspecies(onlytropicalrainforesthavegreaterdensity
ofplantspecies).5,6
AccordingtotheInternationalPanelforClimateChange(IPCC,2007),MTEshavethefollowing
vulnerabilitiestoclimatechange:a)warmeranddrierconditionswillforcespeciestoshift;b)land
use,habitatfragmentationandintenseanthropogenicpressureswillfurtherlimitnaturaladaptation
responses;c)firesmaythreatenspecificspeciesandplants;d)invasivealienspeciesmaythreaten
rarespeciesofvegetation;e)overall,lossofbiodiversityandcarbonsequestrationservicesmay
resultfromincreasedclimatechanges.7
Figure1.GlobalmapoftheEarthwithMediterraneantypeEcosystems:California(northernBaja
California),Australia(south),SouthAfrica(westerncape),Chile(centralcoast)andMediterranean
BasinbetweenEurasiaandAfrica.ThefiveMediterraneanclimateregionsarerenownedforhigh
levelsofplantrichnessandendemismexceedingthecombinedflorasoftropicalAfricaandAsia.8
2.TheMediterraneanBasin:Ecosystems,BiodiversityandEnvironmentalProblems
TheMediterraneanBasin(MB)coversanareaof2.5millionkm2andstretchesacross34countries
andterritories,havingaround400millionpeople,ofwhich135millionofthemliveonthecoast.The
increasingpopulationexpansionanduseofnaturalresourcesresultedinpressuresonthecoastal
environmentand,moreimportantly,onitsbiodiversity.ThealtitudinalrangeintheMBisenormous
withtheAtlasMountains(Morocco)toweringatmorethan4.000metresandtheDeadSea(Israel)as
faras420metresbelowsealevel.10,11
FormanyMediterraneancountries,waterresourcesareakeyissue,exceptperhapsinthemore
waterrichBalkanscountries.Some7075%ofMediterraneanwaterisusedforagriculture,which
affectseriouslymanyareas.Manywetlandshavebeenlostthroughdrainageanddiversion(e.g.65%
inGreece,28%inTunisia)withimplicationsforamphibianandaquaticreptilepopulations.Inthe
MediterraneanBasin(27countries)thereare343Ramsarsites,(~6.000.000hectares).Thelossof
wetlandsintheMediterraneanregionwillaffectendemicfreshwaterfish,amphibians,mammalsand
reptiles.
Lowrainfallcombinedwithunsustainableagriculturalpracticeshasalsoledtodesertificationand
landdegradationinmanyareas(forexample30%ofGreecebeingdeclared“threatened”and60%of
Portugalfacingamoderateriskofdesertification).Insemiaridareastherearestrongsignsfor
erosion,salinizationandlanddegradation.12,13
Figure2.TheMediterraneanBasinhasexperiencedforcenturiesasteadyandcontinuingmigration
towardsthecoastalareas,andspecificallyinthesouthandeastoftheMediterraneanSea.
FortheMediterraneanpeopleforestshavealwaysplayedanimportantroleinthedailylife.Forest
hadacrucialroleinmaintainingkeyecosystemcomponents.Inthepastdecadesexploitationofthe
naturalresourceswasslowandrelativelysustainablebutinrecentyearsthissituationhasbeen
intensifiedandmechanised.Theforestsarenowfragileandunderthreat.Agriculturalintensification,
fires,overgrazing,andclimatechangearesomeofthemajorthreatstoMediterraneanforestsand
havecontributedtoforestlossanddegradation.14,15
TheMBisanareawithgreatplantbiodiversity.Itisestimatedmorethat25.000plantspecies,half
ofwhichareendemic,arefoundintheMB.Thisrichbiodiversityandthecomplexbiogeographical
scenemakeconservationadifficulttask.16,17
ThemarinebiotaoftheMediterraneanSea(MS)isveryrichtoo.Extensivestudiesandcollectionof
datainthelastdecaderevealedapproximately17.000speciesoccurringintheMediterraneanSea.
Ofthese,atleast26%wereprokaryotic(BacteriaandArchaea)andeukaryotic(Protists)marine
microbes.ThereisaveryrichbiodiversityoffishinthedeepseaareasoftheMediterraneanSea.
HighpercentagesofMediterraneanmarinespeciesareendemic.1820
TheMShasaswellitsownsetofemblematicspeciesofconservationconcern,suchasseaturtles,
severalcetaceans,andthecriticallyendangeredMediterraneanmonkseal(Monachusmonachus).
TheMSisthemainspawningplaceoftheeasternAtlanticbluefintuna(Thunnusthynnus)whichis
anotherthreatenedmarinespeciesduetointensivefishing.21,22
ThereareseveraluniqueandendangeredhabitatsintheMediterraneanSea,includingtheseagrass
meadowsoftheendemicPosidoniaoceanica,vermetidreefs,anddeepseaandpelagichabitatsthat
supportuniquespeciesandecosystems.2325
ManysensitivehabitatsoftheMSexistwithinthecoastalecosystems.Thereare150wetlandsof
internationalimportanceformarineandmigratingbirds,andsome5.000islandsandislets.26,27
Figure3.TheMonkseal(Monachusmonachus)isknownendangeredspeciesoftheMediterranean
Sea.Seagrassmeadows(Posidoniaoceanica)aredecliningbecauseofpollution.
TheMBhasmanybiogeographicalzones,withEurasianandAfricanelementsdominatingthe
mammalfauna,whereasEurasianandsemiaridsouthernelementsdominatetheavifauna.The
NorthAfricanmammalfaunahascloseraffinitieswithtropicalAfricathanwiththeMediterranean
Basin.Ontheotherhand,thereptileandamphibianfaunascomprisemainlyMediterraneanspecies,
andhavehigherlevelsofendemism.28,29
TheMBhostsaround25.000plantspecies,over50%ofwhichareendemic(8%oftheworld’sflora,
and80%ofallEuropean)IntheMBthereishighrateofendemism:33.5%ofreptilespecies,34.2%
ofAmphibian,29.2%offreshwaterfishand11.6%ofmammalspeciesareendemic.30
InspiteofpopulatedurbanareasandtheveryhighhumandensityinallareasinMB,largecarnivores
includingbears,wolves,lynx,etc.arestillpresentinpartsoftheregion.Twoofthemostglobally
endangeredmammalssuchastheMonksealandtheIberianlynx,aswellaswhales,dolphinsand
porpoisespeciesareregularlypresentinMediterraneanSea.TheMediterraneanSeaistheonly
breedinggroundoftheAtlanticBluefintuna,theworldmostvaluablefishspecies.Also,theMSis
themostimportantplaceintheworldformarineturtles,especiallyloggerheadandgreenturtles.31
PollutionintheMediterraneanBasinhasbeenveryhighinrecentdecadesduetoanthropogenic
activities.TheUnitedNationsEnvironmentProgramme(UNEP)hasestimatedthatthe
MediterraneanSeaeachyearreceives650.000.000tonesofsewage(someofituntreated),129.000
tonesofmineraloil,60.000tonesofmercury,3.800tonesofleadandotherheavymetals.The
MediterraneanSeaisalsotherecipientoflargeamountsofagriculturalphosphates(domestic
effluents),nitrogenfertilizersandpesticides,andlargeamountsofmarinedebris,especiallyplastics.
3234
Figure4.ThecoastlineintheMediterraneanSeais46,000km.longwith135millionpeoplelivingin
theMediterraneancoastlineareas.
Tourismdevelopmenthasplacedsignificantpressureontheregion'scoastalecosystems(220million
annually).TheshoresoftheMediterraneanarethebiggestlargescaletouristattractionintheworld,
with110millionvisitorsarrivingannually,afigurethatisexpectedtodoubleinthenexttwo
decades.Theconstructionofinfrastructureandthedirectimpactsofpeopleusingandtrampling
sensitiveduneecosystemsremainsakeythreattocoastalareasinTurkey,Cyprus,Tunisia,Morocco,
andGreece,aswellassmallerMediterraneanIslands(Balearics,Corsica,Sardinia,Sicily,Crete,and
theCanaryandMadeiraIslands).Manymarinespecieshavebeenalmostwipedoutbecauseofthe
sea'spollution.OneofthemistheMediterraneanMonkSealwhichisconsideredtobeamongthe
world'smostendangeredmarinemammals.35
3.TerrestrialEcoregionsoftheMediterranean
TheMediterraneanissubdividedinto22terrestrialecologicalregionswiththeirowncharacteristics.
Anecoregionisdefinedasalargeareaoflandorwaterthatcontainsageographicallydistinct
assemblageofnaturalcommunitieswhichsharealargemajorityoftheirspeciesandtheirecological
dynamics.Also,thesecommunitiessharesimilarenvironmentalconditionsandinteractecologically
inwaysthatarecriticalfortheirlongtermpersistenceandsurvival.3537TheWorldWildlifeFund
(WWF)hascompiledbroaddescriptionsofgeomorphologiccharacteristicsandbiodiversityof
terrestrialecoregionsintheMediterraneanBasin.3639.
1. AegeanandWesternTurkeysclerophyllousandmixedforests(Greece,Turkey).
2. Anatolianconiferanddeciduousmixedforests(Turkey).
3. CanaryIslandsdrywoodlandsandforests(Spain).
4. Corsicanmontanebroadleafa(France).
Figure5.Corsicanbroadleafforests
Corsicanmontanebroadleafa(France).
Thisecoregionislimitedtohighaltitude
forestsoftheisland’smountainranges.
Floraldiversityishighwith2.524species
total,296ofwhichareendemic.Theisland
supportsanumberofendemicfauna
includingtheCorsicannuthatch(Sitta
whiteheadi),therareherbivore,Ovisaries
musimon,andCorsicandeer(Cervuselaphus
corsicanus).Anumberofendemic
amphibiansalsoresidehere.
(source:
www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profile/te
rrestrial/pa/pa1204_full.html)
5. CreteMediterranendmixedforestsanforests(Greece).
6. CyprusMediterraneanforests(Cyprus)
7. EasternMediterraneanconifersclerophyllousbroadleafforests(Lebanon,Israel,theWestBank,
theGazaStrip,Jordan,Syria,Turkey).
EasternMediterranean
ThisecoregionintheheartoftheMiddle
East,alongtheMediterraneancoastsof
Turkey,Syria,Lebanon,IsraelandPalestine.
Majoravianmigratoryroutespassthrough
here,contributingtoitsstatusasanareaof
highbirddiversity.Theecoregionisalso
hometoanumberofgloballythreatened
wildlifespecies,includingthecritically
endangeredbaldibisandthe
Mediterraneanmonkseal,theloggerhead
marineturtle,theEuphratessoftshellturtle
andthevulnerableimperialeagle.(WWF.
EasternMediterraneanConifer
SclerophyllousBroadleafForests(PA1207)
(www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profile/t
errestrial/pa/pa1207_full.html)
Figure6.SoutheasterncoastalTurkey.
8. Iberianconiferforests(Portugal,Spain)
9. Iberiansclerophyllousandsemideciduousforests(Portugal,Spain).
10. Illyriandeciduousforests(Albania,BosniaandHerzegovina,Croatia,Greece,Italy,Slovenia).
11. Italiansclerophyllousandsemideciduousforests(France,Italy).
12. Mediterraneanacaciaarganiadrywoodlandsandsucculentthickets(Morocco,Canary
Islands(Spain).
13. Mediterraneandrywoodlandsandsteppe(Algeria,Egypt,Libya,Morocco,Tunisia)
Figure7.Mediterraneanacaciaarganiadrywoodlands(Morocco).
14. Mediterraneanwoodlandsandforests(Algeria,Morocco,Tunisia,Spain)
ScatteredthroughNorthAfrica(andsouthernmostmountainsofCádizandMálagainSpain),
MediterraneanConiferandMixedForestsgrowonhighelevationsofmajormountain
massifs.(WWF.MediterraneanConiferandMixedForest(PAO513)
(www.worldlwildlife.org/......PAO513))
15. NortheasternSpainandSouthernFranceMediterraneanforests(France,Spain).
16. NorthwestIberianmontaneforests(Portugal,Spain).
ClaimingsomeofthelastpristineforestsindenselypopulatedEurope,thenorthwestern
IberianMountainshaveanolderreliefthatpeaksatthesnowcappedElMoncayo(2,313m).
Importantrelictconiferforestsofpineandjuniperarescatteredonrockyareasamongthe
dominantoakforests.Thisecoregionsupportsthelargestremainingpopulationofwolf
(Canislupus)ontheIberianPeninsula.Birdsofpreysuchasgriffonvulture,goldeneagle,and
shorttoeeagle,areotherprominentspecies.
17. PindusMountainsmixedforests(Albania,Greece,Macedonia).
ThePindusMountainConiferandmixedbroadleafforestsecoregionextendsgeographically
inanorthsouthdirectionfromthemountainrangesofthePeloponese,Taiyetostothe
centralGreekParnasos,Giona,SmolikasandOlympus,tonorthernAlbaniaandwestern
FYROM.Athigherelevationstheforestiscomposedofconiferspecies,whileatlower
altitudes,mixedbroadleafspeciespredominate.Theregionhasanoutstandingrateoffloral
endemism.(WWF.PindusMountainmixedforests,Report,PA1217)
(www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profile/terrestrial/pa/pa1217_full.html).
Figure8.PindusMountainsmixedforests(Greece).
Figure9.SoutheasternIberianshrubsandwoodlands(Spain).
18. SouthApenninemixedmontaneforests(Italy).
19. SoutheasternIberianshrubsandwoodlands(Spain).
20. SouthernAnatolianmontaneconiferanddeciduousforests(Lebanon,Israel,Jordan,Syria,
Turkey).
21. SouthwestIberianMediterraneansclerophyllousandmixedforests(France,Italy,Morocco,
Portugal,Spain).
22. TyrrhenianAdriaticsclerophyllousandmixedforests(Croatia,France,Italy,Malta)
TheseterrestrialecoregionsoftheMediterraneanBasinplayavitalroleinthehighbiodiversityof
theregionsandtheiruniquesettingfortheevolutionanddevelopmentofendemicfloraandfauna.
4.BiodiversityofFloraandFaunaintheMediterraneanBasin
TheMediterraneanBasin'slocationattheintersectionoftwomajorlandmasses,EurasiaandAfrica,
hascontributedtoitshighbiologicaldiversity.TheMediterraneanregionhasmountainsashighas
4,500meters,peninsulas,andoneofthelargestarchipelagosintheworld.Althoughmuchofthe
areawasoncecoveredinevergreenoakforests,deciduousandconiferforests,humansettlement
andhabitatmodification(8.000yearsago)havedistinctlyalteredthecharacteristicsof.floraand
faunaLikeotherMediterraneantypeecosystems,theMediterraneanBasinhashighlevelsofplant
diversityandendemismbutrelativelypoorrepresentationofmammalsandbirdscomparedtoother
hotspots.ThebiodiversityandendemismintheMediterraneanBasinhasbeenstudiedextensively
andstatisticaldataare:Plants:22,500species,11.700(52%)endemicspecies,Birds489,25(11%)
endemic,Reptiles230,77(33%)endemic,Mammals226,25(11%)endemic,Amphibians79,27
(34%)endemicandFreshwaterFishes216,63(30%)endemic.40,41
Figure10.ThebiodiversityofplantsandanimalsinTheMediterraneanBasinisveryhighinnumbers
andvariety.
4.1.BiodiversityofFlora(vascularplants,trees)intheMediterraneanBasin
Ofthe22,500speciesofvascularplantsinthishotspot,approximately11,700(52%)arefound
nowhereelseintheworld.Theendemicsaremainlyconcentratedonislands,peninsulas,rockycliffs,
andmountainpeaks.Mediterraneanendemismisunderthreatfromclimatechange.42,43
TheMediterraneanterrestrialregionsarecoveredbyahighdegreeofplantandtreerichness.Inthe
caseoftreesoutof290indigenoustreespeciesthe201areendemic.Anumberoftreesare
importantMediterraneanflagshiptrees.Forexample,thefamouscedarofLebanon,(Cedruslibani,
exploitedsincetheriseofcivilizationintheFertileCrescent);theArgantree(Arganiaspinosa),a
speciesinthesouthwestMorocco;theCretandatepalm(Phoenixtheophrasti)inGreeceand
westernTurkey.
MoroccanArganTree(Arganiaspinosa)
endemic
CedarofLebanon(Cedruslibani)
Cretandatepalm(Phoenixtheophrasti)
MediterraneanFanPalmTree(Chamaerops
humilis)
PlantrichnessintheMediterraneanisveryhigh.Thereareregionalminihotspotswithinthelarger
hotspot,characterizedbyareasofhighplantrichnessandnarrowendemism.Theseare:44
1) AtlasMountainsinNorthAfrica(Morocco),
2) RifBetiquerangeinsouthernSpain,
3) TwocoastalstripsofMoroccoandAlgeria;
4) MaritimeandLigurianAlpsoftheFrenchItalianborder
5);TyrrhenianIslands;
5) Greece,southernandcentralmountains,
6) Crete,mountains,
7) SouthernTurkey(Anatolia,Taurus),Cyprus(Troodosmountains),
8) LevantineuplandsTurkey,Syria,Israel,LebanonandJordan;
9) CyrenaicainLibya;
10) Macronesianarchipelagos(Canary/MadeiraIslands)
11) BalkanandPhodopeMountains
12) Pyrenneesmountains.
Figure12.TheMediterraneanBasinHotspots,highbiodiversityofplantsandtrees.Conservation
International.FirsteverinternationalplantosavetheMediterraneanBasinecosystemsunites34
countrieson3continents(CEPFMediterraneanEcosystemImages),
(www.conservation.org/newsroom/pressreleases/PublishingImages/100)
TheseMediterraneanareascoverabout22%oftheBasin’stotalarea,yetaccountforalmost5,500
endemicplants,whichisabout.47%oftotalMediterraneanendemicplantsandtrees.Climate
changes,populationpressures,tourismandenvironmentalpollutioncontributedsothatsome
endemicplantsarenowthreatenedwithextinction.4547
ThecollisionoftheAfricanandEurasianplatesinthemidtertiary(2540millionyearsago)has
shapedthebasintoyieldgreatvariabilityintopographicfeatures(highmountains),climatic
differencesandgeographiccharacteristics.Thisdiversitywasresponsibleforagreatnumberof
ecosystemsandbiodiversityofspecies,especiallyplants.Naturalandanthropogeniccausesoffire
playedamajorroleinshapingtheMBvegetation,andsomespeciesdependedonfirefor
reproduction.ThevegetationtypesareveryhighintheBasinbutcanclassifiedbythreebroadtypes:
a)Maquis,whichwerederivedfromforests,ischaracterizedbyhardleavedshrubland,b)Forests,
whicharemainlypineanddeciduousforestsstillcoveringsignificantareasintheNorthernand
EasternMediterraneanBasin,c)Garrigue,isahabitatrestrictedtothesemiarid,lowlandand
coastalregions.Itcomprisesspeciesofaromatic,softleavedanddroughtresistanttaxa,mainly
Rosmarinus,SalviaandThymus,48,49
TherearenumerousplantspeciesintheMediterraneanBasinwhichareunderthreatbecauseof
habitatlossorintheendangeredlist.TheProgrammeLIFEbytheEuropeanCommissionhasfunded
manyprojectsinEuropeforthestudyandconservationofendangeredspecies.Also,thereare
variouspublicationsofIUCNandofLIFEprojectsavailableonNatura200,wetlands,riversetc.
(http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life/publications/order.htm).50,51
Asphodelusbentorainhae(Portugal,
Gardunhamountains)
Saponariajagelli(Greekislands)Critically
endangered
CalendulamaritimeGuss,
endangered,
Convolvulusmassonii,highlythreatenedbyhabitat
loss
Figure13.Mediterraneanplantsunderthreatfromclimaticchanges,Source:IUCNWebsitefor
endangeredspecies.(http://msdata.iucn.org/downloads/mediterranean_top50_en.pdf)
4.2.BiodiversityofFauna:VertebratesintheMediterraneanBasin
Atotalofnearly500birdspeciesarefoundintheMediterraneanBasinhotspot,andmanymore
migratethroughtheregion,crossingtheMediterraneanatGibraltar,Sicily,theBalearicIslands,
Corsica,Sardinia,Crete,andCyprus.Therearealsomanymoreterrestrialanimals,reptilesand
amphibians.ThedestructionanddegradationoftheMediterraneanwetlandsandforeststhreatened
thesespeciesandtheirbiodiversity.
4.2.1.BirdsintheMediterraneanBasin
TheMediterraneanBasinaswellastheislands(Sicily,Crete,Corsica,etc)areofsignificant
importanceformigratorybirds.52,53Twiceayear150migratoryspeciescrossthenarrownatural
passagesintheregion[Gibraltar,Messina(Italy),BelenPass(Turkey),Lebanesecoast,andSuez]
takingadvantageofthewetlandsontheirwayforrestandfood.
Ofthesebirds,25areendemicandthereishighlevelofthreatsfortheirsurvival.Inthethreatened
speciesaretheSpanishImperialeagle(Aquilaadalberti);theBalearicshearwater(Puffinus
mauretanicus),whichbreedsintheBalearicIslands;andtheMadeiraorZino’spetrel(Pterodroma
madeira),whichisfoundinthecentralmountainmassifofMadeira.Mediterraneanbirdsare
threatenedbecauseoftherdestructionofparticularhabitats,suchastheWhitePelican(Pelecanus
onocrotalus),theGreatWhiteHeron(Egrettaalba),andGreaterFlamingo(Phoenicopterusrubber).54
ThedestructionanddegradationofMediterraneanwetlandsthreatenwidespreadspeciesoccurring
inthehotspotsuchastheDalmatianpelican(Pelecanuscrispus),whichwintersintheeasternparts
ofthehotspot,marbledteal(Marmaronettaangustirostris)andferruginousduck(Aythyanyroca).
Thesewetlandsarealsoimportantforwinteringandmigratingspeciesliketheslenderbilledcurlew
(Numeniustenuirostris),whichtravelsbetweenAfricaanditsSiberianbreedinggroundseachyear.
PortionsofthehotspotforbirdsintheMediterraneanalsoappearasprioritiesinBirdLife
International’sglobalanalysisofEndemicBirdAreas(EBAs),namelyCyprus,Madeira,andthe
CanaryIslands,andCapeVerde.TheCanaryIslandsandMadeiraarehometoeightendemicspecies,
includingthreeColumbapigeons:thewhitetailedlaurelpigeon(Columbajunoniae),darktailed
laurelpigeon(Columbabolli),andMadeiralaurelpigeon(Columba.trocaz).54
EgyprtianVulture(Neophonperenopterus)
endangered
WhitePelican
Marbledtealduck
SlenderbilledCurlew
Figure14.MediterraneanBasinbirdsthreatenedbythedestructionofwetlandsandtheirhabitats.
4.2.2.TerrestrialMammalsintheMediterraneanBasin
TheMediterraneanBasinhotspotisthehomeofmorethan220terrestrialmammalspecies,of
which25areendemic(11%).TheMediterraneanBasinhasgivenrisetosomeofthegreatest
civilizationsonEarth.Densehumanpopulationshavebeendistributedacrossthemajorityof
biodiversityhotspotswhichhavebeenalteredbyhumanhabitation.Naturalvegetationhasbeen
reducedto5%onanyhotspotandmanyforestshavebeenconvertedtoagriculturalland.Anumber
oflargemammalspecies,likethelion(Pantheraleo)andthescimitarhornedoryx(OryxdammahI),
havebeenlostfromtheregioninthelastfewthousandyearsastheresultofhumanhabitat
alterationandhuntingpressures.ThelowlevelofhabitatprotectionintheMediterraneanBasinand
thehighendemismmakesitdifficultforconservationmeasuresofallbiodiversityhotspots.5557
AmongnotableflagshipspeciesaretheMediterraneanmonkseal(Monachusmonachus),ofwhich
lessthan400individualsremaininthewild;theBarbarymacaque(Macacasylvanus),theonlynative
monkeyknownfromEuropeconfinedtoseveralsmallandfragmentedhabitatsinthemountain
rangesofMoroccoandAlgeria,theBarbarydeer(Cervuselaphusbarbarus),representedbyafew
hundredindividualsinasmallforestontheAlgerian/Tunisianborder;andtheIberianlynx(Lynx
pardinus),themostthreatenedfelidintheworldwithnomorethan250individualsremaininginthe
wild.58,59
ThereishighconcernamongscientistsfortheimpactofclimatechangeonMediterraneanBasin’s
mammals.60
Figure15.MammalsofMediterraneanBasin.Left,Barbarymacaque(Macacasylvanus),andright
Iberianlynx(Lynxpardinus).
4.2.3.MediterraneanBasinReptiles
TheeasternMediterraneanhasagreatdiversityofreptilespecies(lizards,snakes,turtles,tortoises,
andcrocodilians)duetoitscharacteristicaridlands.Thereareafewconcentrationsofspeciesat
risk,andthemostnotableareinLebanon,IsraelandthePalestinianTerritories,extendingtothe
northernpartofSinaiinnortheastEgypt.
TheMediterraneanBasincontainsmorethan355reptilespecies(excludingmarineturtles)ofwhich
67%arelizardsand30%snakes.The170reptilesareendemictotheMediterraneanarea..Thereare
alsofourendemicgenera,namelyAlgyroides,Trogonophis,Macroscincus,andGallotia(thelast
beingagenusoflizarduniquetotheCanaryIslands).61
SomeMediterraneanreptilesarethreatenedorendangeredbecauseofhabitatlossand
degradation..13%(46)ofreptilespeciesarethreatened,6,2%endangered,3,9%critically
endangeredand3,1%vulnerable.61
ThefamilyLacertidae,characterizedbysmall,longtailedlizards,isrepresentedinthe
Mediterraneanhotspotbymorethan60species,aquarteroftheworld’stotal,andthefamily
Viperidae,stockyvenomoussnakes,isrepresentedbynearly20species.ThefamilyTestudinidaeis
representedbyfivetortoises:spurthighedorGreektortoise(Testudograeca);Hermann'stortoise
(Testudohermanni);marginatedtortoise(Testudomarginata);theendangeredEgyptiantortoise
(Testudokleinmanni),andWeissinger’stortoise(Testudoweissingeri),anendemicspecies.62
Figure16.Mediterraneanreptiles.Deserthornedviper(NorthAfricaandIsrael),Balkangreenlizard
(Lacertatrilinetatdobrogica),Salamandralanzai(FranceandItaly,vulnerable),Mediterraneanspur
thighedtortoise(Testutograeca,Greece).
4.2.4.MediterraneanBasin:AmphibianSpecies
TheMediterraneanBasinhotspotcontain80amphibianspeciesofwhich30areendemic(31%).The
Mediterraneanhotspotisacentreofendemismfortwoamphibianfamilies:theDiscoglossidaeand
theSalamandridae.Elevenoftheworld's12recognizedspeciesofdisctonguedfrogs
(Discoglossidae)arefoundhere,7ofwhichareendemic.ThePalestinianpaintedfrog(Discoglossus
nigriventer),knownfromIsrael,hasnotbeenrecordedsince1955.61
Thehotspot's23speciesofSalamandridaeaccountforoverathirdoftheworld'srepresentatives
fromthisfamily.Thefiresalamander(Salamandrasalamandra)isoneofthelargestsalamandersin
theworld;itsrangeincludesmostofEurope,aportionofNorthAfrica,andtheMediterranean
MiddleEast.Ofthe17speciesofthreatenedamphibianspresentinthehotspot,themost
threatenedisprobablyRanaholtzi,whichisendemicintheTaurusRangeinTurkey.Verylittleis
knownaboutthis5cmfrogItsbackwasacolorfulcombinationofocher(yellowbrown),rust,gray,
andblack.SmallwhitespotsHerpetologistsbelievethatitwentextinctbecausesomuchofits
wetlandhabitatwasdrainedforfarmland63
Figure17.Mediterraneanamphibians.Thepaintedfrog(Discoglossusnigriventer),Israel,andRana
holtzi,whichisendemicintheTaurusRange.
4.2.5.MediterraneanBasin:FreshwaterFishandOdonata(Dragonflies)
ThefreshwaterfishoftheMediterraneanBasinaresmallsubsetsoftherichEurasianandAfricanfish
faunasfromwhichtheyareisolated.ThemajorityoffishintheMB(around80%)areendemic(253
freshwaterfishspecies).64
AccordingtoIUCNRedListofMediterraneanendemicfreshwaterfish(253),the56%ofendemic
speciesisthreatenedwithextinction,18%endemicspeciesarecriticallyendangered,18%endemics
areendangeredand20%(40endemics)arevulnerable.Themostimportantpressuresarewater
pollution,waterextraction,invasivespecies,reservoirs,agriculturepollutionandoverfishing.65
AsuccessfulconservationstoryistheGizani(Ladigesocyprisghigii)isatiny(1012cmlong)fish
endemictoRhodesIsland,Greece,thatisstronglydependentonrainfallandwatermanagementto
survive.IthasbeensubjectofaLIFENatureprojectwiththeobjectiveofimprovingitsthreatened
status.Theinitiativeintegratedthestudyofitsgeographicrange,habitatpreferences,geneticsand
threats.Conservationactionscarriedoutincludedconstructionofinformationcentresforvisitors,an
artificialbreedingprogrammeandanactionplanforthespecies.Asaresultoftheseefforts,the
speciesisgenerallystableandisnotthreatenedanymore.65
ThegreatestconcentrationoffreshwaterfishthreatenedspeciesisintheRioGuadiana(Spainand
Portugal),theOrontesRiverbasin(TurkeyandSyria),LakeKinneretandtheHulabasin(Israel),the
lowerNeretvaRiver(CroatiaandBosniaandHerzegovina)andLakePrespa(Greece,AlbaniaandFYR
Macedonia).66
Forodonates(dragonflies)intheMediterraneanBasin,habitatlossanddegradationcausedby
humansaswellaswaterpollutionarethemainthreats.Climatechangeisalsoamajorconcernas
increasedwaterdemandtogetherwithalowerlevelofprecipitationwillresultinthedesiccationof
brooks,ahabitatonwhichmanyoftheendemicsaredependent.67
Figure18.MediterraneanBasin.Barbel(Barbusmeridionalis),Catfish(Squaliuslaietanus).
Endangeredendemicfishthreatenedbyinvansivespecies.Thebandeddemoiselle(Calopteryx
splendeusintermedia)isoneofthedragonfliesofEasternMediterranean.
4.2.6.MediterraneanSea:DistributionofMarineFishes
TheMediterraneanSea(MS)isveryrichinfishes.IthasbeenestimatedthattheMScontains513
marinespeciesand6subspecies.Outof519marinefishes8%(43)areinthreatenedcategoriesand
3%(15)ismostthreatened.Ofthe519marinespecies,74(14%)areendemictotheMS.The
MediterraneanSeais2,5millionKm2andcontains7%ofthetotalglobalmarinefishspecies.68
TheIUCNGlobalMarineSpeciesAssessmentandtheCentreforMediterraneanCooperationare
currentlydevotingsignificanteffortstoassesstheconservationstatusofthefaunaandfloraofthe
MediterraneanBasin.Themarinespeciesincludemarinemammals,seaturtles,andcartilaginous
marinefishes,cetaceansandseabirds.Theongoingassessmentsincludemarinefish,molluscsand
aquaticplants.
Thepresentdataformarinebiodiversityismuchpatchierthanthatexistingforterrestrial
environments,witharoundonethirdofthespeciesbeingcatalogedasDataDeficient.Sharks,rays
andalliesareamongthegroupsofmainconcern,with13outof71speciescataloguedasCritically
Endangered,and18speciesasDataDeficient.Cetaceans(whales,dolphins,porpoises)inthe
MediterraneanSeaareprotectedandthereisanorganizedsanctuary.69,70
Paintedcomber(Serranusscriba)
Swallowtailseaperch(Anthiasanthias)
Thecommondentex(Dentexdentex)
vulnerable
Madeirarockfish(Scorpaenamaderensis)
Figure19.MediterraneanSeacontains7%ofthetotalglobalmarinespecies.
4.2.7.MediterraneanMarineTurtlesandPinnipeds(seals)
TheMediterraneanSeahoststwospeciesofmarineturtles,theloggerheadturtle(Carettacaretta,
EN)andthegreenturtle(Cheloniamydas,EN).Thelatter,witharegionalpopulationofafew
hundredindividuals,ismainlyrestrictedtotheeasternbasin,whereastheloggerheadturtlealso
breedsinthecentralMediterraneanandmigratesthroughtheStraitofGibraltartothewestern
Atlantic,andnumbersafewthousandindividualsintheregion.
TheuniquespeciesofsealintheMediterraneanBasinHotspotistheCriticallyEndangered
Mediterraneanmonkseal(Monachusmonachus),endemictotheregion.Thespeciesisdeemedto
beoneofthe10mostthreatenedintheworldbyIUCN.71,72
Figure20.ThereisgreatvarietyofMediterraneanmarineturtles.
5.ConservationActionsandProtectedAreasintheMediterraneanBasin
TheMediterraneanBasinhasalonghistoryoflandconservation.Asearlyas2,000yearsago,the
RomansandGreekssetasideareasfortheprotectionofnaturalresources.Nonetheless,today,
protectedareasstillonlycover90,000km²or4.3%ofthetotallandarea,ofwhichonly29,000km²
areinthefour(IIV)categoriesoftheInternationalUnionforConservationofNature(IUCN)73,74
ManycountriesintheMediterraneanarearecognisetheimportanceofbiodiversityandthe
protectionoftheenvironment.Theyunderstandhowvaluableistheirthreatenednaturalheritage.
Mostcountrieswithintheregionareplanningsignificantexpansionoftheirprotectedareasystems,
especiallyinTurkey,LebanonandSyria.
However,widespreaddevelopmentandhumanlandusemeansthatmanyofthenewprotected
areaswillbetoosmalltoadequatelysupportanimalpopulations.Manyexistingandproposed
protectedareassufferfrompollutionandwatershortages,problemsthatwillonlyintensifyasthe
humanpopulationincreasesintheMediterraneanBasin.75,76
Theestablishmentofbiospherereserves,whichallowforthesustainableuseoflandandresources
withinreserveborders,hasprovedsuccessfulinareaswherestateauthoritiesrecognizetheirvalue.
Achievingabalancebetweenbiodiversityconservationandhumandevelopmentisanimportant
conservationstrategyfortheMediterranean.
TheEuropeanUnion’sHabitatsDirective(Natura2000),isaveryimportantconservationeffortin
theMediterraneanBasin,requiringtheMediterraneancountriesoftheEuropeanUniontoidentify
themoreimportantnaturalsitesandtoformulateconservationresponses.77
TheRamsarConvention(TheConventiononWetlandsofInternationalImportance,especiallyas
WaterfowlHabitat,itisnamedaftertheIraniantownofRamsar)isaninternationaltreatyforthe
conservationandsustainableutilisationofwetlands.Theconventionhasbeenformulateinorderto
stemtheprogressiveencroachmentonandlossofwetlandsnowandinthefuture.Itisscientifically
proventhatwetlandshavefundamentalecologicalfunctionsandplayeconomic,cultural,scientific,
andrecreationalpurposes.78
RegionalcooperativeprogramsarealsoanimportantfactorforconservationintheMediterranean
Basin.Oneprocessthathasestablishedmechanismsforregionalactiononpollutioncontroland
conservationofthesharedmarineenvironmentistheMediterraneanActionPlan,acooperative
effortestablishedundertheaegisoftheUnitedNationsinthemid1970s,inresponsetothe
pollutiondrivendeathoftheMediterraneanSea.79,80
Inthelastdecades,Mediterraneancountrieshaverecognizedtheimperativeneedforbiodiversity
preservationandecosystemsbalance,inordertoavoidthesevereconsequencesofbiodiversityloss.
ThisisclearlyreflectedinthefactthatmostcountrieswithintheMediterraneanregionare
contractingpartiestomajorinternational/regionalconventions,agreementsandlegislative
frameworksthatdealwithorarecloselyrelatedtobiodiversityissues.
Inordertoachievegreaterprogresstowardsbiodiversityconservationandaverttheaccelerating,
catastrophiclossofthevarietyoflifeformsintheMediterraneanregion,thereisanurgentneedfor
asetofactionsandresponsescloselylinkedwithambitiousshortandlongtermpost2010targets,
aimingtotacklesufficientlyandeffectivelytheindirectanddirectdriversofbiodiversitylossinthe
Mediterraneanregion.
Increasedeffortsshouldbemadetowardstheprotectionofterrestrial,freshwaterandmarine
habitatsandspeciesby:tacklingthemajorsourcesofpollution(solidwaste,wastewater,industrial
emissions)includingcontaminationandallformsofbiologicaldestructionbypreventingthe
introductionofnonindigenousspecies;eliminatingunsustainablefishingpractices;stopping
overharvestingofspecies;avoidingunsustainableagriculture,aquacultureandforestrypractices,
avoidingsoildegradationactivities,etc.
Figure21.PhotographsofbutterfliesanddragonfliesinthePeloponnesebyThomaisVlachogianni.
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Spain.,MedWetwascreatedinGrado,ItalyinJune1991duringaninternationalconferenceon
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Outlook(www.planbleu.org).TheBluePlanscenarios,publishedin1989highlightedpossible
futuresfor2000and2025foraregionwithoneoftherichesthistoriesintheworld,notto
mentionitsdiversityandfragility.ThreeyearsbeforetheRioSummit,thereportcalledforan
increasedcommitmenttosustainabledevelopment,aconceptthatwasthenstillinitsinfancy.
Thepresentreport,requestedandfundedbyallMediterraneanrimcountriesandtheEuropean
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Ecoregion.(www.panda.org).
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complementstheBirdsDirectiveadoptedin1979.(http://www.naturta.org).
78. RamsarConvention.TheConventiononWetlands(Ramsar,Iran,1971)‐‐ calledthe"Ramsar
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countriestomaintaintheecologicalcharacteroftheirWetlandsofInternationalImportance
andtoplanforthe"wiseuse",orsustainableuse,ofallofthewetlandsintheirterritories.
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MediterraneandragonflyGreenGomphid(OphiogomhusCecilia)
... Abundant in ecosystems and natural resources, the Mediterranean Region provides habitats to a variety of flora and fauna (Médail & Quézel, 1999), making it one of the 25 world biodiversity hotspots, home to an exceptional number of endemic species (Valavanidis & Vlachogianni, 2011;Myers et al., 2000). This region is the cradle of some of the oldest civilizations in the worldbeing a crossover of culture, arts, and history (Rick et al., 2020) as well as one of the leading tourist destinations globally; in 2016, this region welcomed 330 million international tourists, and it expects more than 500 million tourist arrivals by 2030 (UNWTO, 2017). ...
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Ecotourism is a potential lever for sustainable development, but common standards and approaches lack to manage and monitor the impact of defined packages on natural resources and local communities. A customized version of Ecological Footprint Accounting is evaluated here to assess its usefulness as analytical tool to quantitatively analyse the environmental pressures associated with ecotourism packages developed in and around Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Region. Within the framework of the EU-funded DestiMED project, a bottom-up, participatory approach was developed for managing and monitoring 13 ecotourism packages by involving local tourism stakeholders and service providers. The application of Ecological Footprint Accounting relied on data sourced from local service providers to complement existing statistics and datasets, and was used in an empirical iterative process to provide local tourism stakeholders with recommendations to guide them in the management of a low-impact tourism offer. International travel to and from the 13 destinations was found to place a Footprint on the environment – mainly because of carbon emissions – higher than that of the entire stay at destination. Footprint results of the packages revealed some overlooked tourism's impacts on ecosystems due to unexpected drivers, such as the Food & Drink services offered to tourists at destination. Results indicate that managing tourism product development at destination, and investing in providing knowledge on the principles of sustainability, could lower ecotourism's impacts whilst contributing to building resilience and aiding the post-COVID recovery of destinations. Management implications This article tested the applicability and usefulness of Ecological Footprint Accounting (EFA) to assess ecotourism packages developed in and around Protected Areas (PAs) across the Mediterranean Region. A customized version of Ecological Footprint Accounting is suitable for managers and can be used to quantitatively assess the multiple pressures of the activities included in ecotourism packages through a bottom up approach. This innovative monitoring process typically fosters the engagement with the local service providers, which is key for a sustainability monitoring of the touristic offer. Applied to ecotourism packages, EFA allows identifying the main ecosystems under pressure as well as the main drivers causing such pressures. This information is useful to understand the actual impacts caused by the packages offered in their territory, and – when combined with tangible recommendations for improvements – to help adjust the services offered in the packages to possibly reduce environmental impacts.
... The Basin holds a large diversity of flora: native tree species and subspecies, and cryptic woody trees of 245 taxa (médail et al. 2019). Its reptile, amphibian, bird, and mammal faunas are also rich, including numerous Mediterranean species (ValaVanidiS & VlachoGianni 2011). The Mediterranean Basin hosts 50% of all known crab and crayfish species, 48% of reptile species, 25% of mammal species, 14% of dragonfly species, 6% of shark and ray species, and 3% of bird species. ...
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Full-text available
The goal of this study was to record the malacofauna of the Kabylia region, Tizi-Ouzou, in Northern Algeria, at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, and to report the distribution pattern of terrestrial gastropod diversity in five different types of habitat (dune, agricultural fields, rural sites, forests, and mountain locations). A total of 33 species of terrestrial snails and slugs were recorded, which represented 27 genera of 19 families, mainly Geomitridae and Helicidae. The rural habitat was the richest, with 23 species, while the mountain habitat yielded 20 species. The dune and forest habitats showed the smallest species richness.
... The Basin holds a large diversity of flora: native tree species and subspecies, and cryptic woody trees of 245 taxa (médail et al. 2019). Its reptile, amphibian, bird, and mammal faunas are also rich, including numerous Mediterranean species (ValaVanidiS & VlachoGianni 2011). The Mediterranean Basin hosts 50% of all known crab and crayfish species, 48% of reptile species, 25% of mammal species, 14% of dragonfly species, 6% of shark and ray species, and 3% of bird species. ...
Article
Full-text available
The goal of this study was to record the malacofauna of the Kabylia region, Tizi-Ouzou, in Northern Algeria, at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea, and to report the distribution pattern of terrestrial gastropod diversity in five different types of habitat (dune, agricultural fields, rural sites, forests, and mountain locations). A total of 33 species of terrestrial snails and slugs were recorded, which represented 27 genera of 19 families, mainly Geomitridae and Helicidae. The rural habitat was the richest, with 23 species, while the mountain habitat yielded 20 species. The dune and forest habitats showed the smallest species richness.
... Even though the Mediterranean is a semi-enclosed sea covering less than 1% of the surface of the global oceans, it constitutes a general richness hotspot of total species on a global scale (Tortonese 1989;Bianchi & Morri 2000;Coll et al. 2010;Valavanidis & Vlachogianni 2011;Derrick et al. 2020) as a result of the climatic events of the Quaternary, which acted as a sort of "biodiversity pump" (Bianchi & Morri 2000). During the Pleistocene, the Mediterranean Sea developed its current oceanographic features, showing a close affinity with the nearby Atlantic Ocean. ...
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Full-text available
Species diversity assessments are an important step to evaluate the conservation status of a community, both in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. These assessments are pivotal if related to both, the constant increase of human pressure on ecosystems and the anthropogenic climate change occurring nowadays. Sharks and rays are globally threatened, and the situation is particularly alarming in the Mediterranean Sea where more than 50% of species are listed at risk of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In this paper, we revise and discuss the chondrichthyan species richness of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. Through an accurate review of published taxonomic studies, historical data on species occurrence, analyses of scientific survey data and biodiversity databases and other scientific papers, we produced a revised list of species whose presence in the Mediterranean Sea is confirmed or highly probable and discussed on current taxonomic and occurrence disputes on the species that are instead rarer or claimed to be locally extinct. We listed a total of 88 species, representing 30 families and 48 genera that are currently present in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. This number includes 48 shark species, 38 batoids, and 2 chimaeras. The review represents a reference for future conservation assessments of cartilaginous fish in the region and a guide for decision-makers when promoting the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resource within an ecosystem-based framework. This paper can help to set a baseline of the Mediterranean species and thus resolve some uncertainties regarding their conservation status, explaining the reasons for their prolonged absence in the reports. Indeed, failure to record over time may not be due to grubbing up, but because after careful review this species was not really part of the Mediterranean fauna.
... The spread of these shrub species is also linked to regeneration strategies such as seeding and resprouting that allow them to resist to disturbances (Verd u 2000). Indeed, in some cases, threats are decisive to characterize ecological systems, for example natural and anthropogenic causes of fire play a major role in shaping the Mediterranean Basin vegetation, and some species depend on fire for reproduction (Valavanidis and Vlachogianni 2013). ...
Article
Among the Mediterranean ecosystems, shrublands are a characteristic type of vegetation, widespread in different habitats. Owing to different factors such as the physiological, morphological, reproductive, phenological, and regenerative properties, as well as the inter-intraspecific interactions, each shrubby species represents an important element within the plant community and plays a specific ecological role. In this review, attention was focused on the ecological functions and type of plant-microsymbiont interactions in respect of selected shrubby species within the Mediterranean Basin: Amelanchier ovalis, Astragalus nebrodensis, Crataegus laciniata, Lycium intricatum, Prunus spinosa, and Viburnum tinus.
... Mediterranean forest is considered as one of the major global biodiversity hotspots, due to its rich biodiversity, comprising many endemic species that are being threatened by anthropogenic and climate challenges (Pausas and Millán, 2019). These forests are mainly composed by broadleaved evergreen tree species (holm -Quercus ilex and cork oak -Quercus suber; Valavanidis and Vlachogianni, 2011). Cork oak displays an important economic input for the Mediterranean countries, in particular for the Iberian Peninsula that presents the largest cork oak forest area, which results in 80% of annual cork production (50% of which in Portugal). ...
... The Mediterranean basin is one of the world's richest places in terms of animal and plant diversity (Cuttelod et al., 2008). It is home to a tremendous diversity of habitats and species and has designed by IUCN as biodiversity hotspot because of its rich biodiversity and its threatened status (Valavanidis and Vlachogianni, 2013). ...
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Climate change is a real global threat. The main cause of the current global warming trend is human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”. The biodiversity is a perfect design free offered for well-being of all humanity; it provides benefits such as food security, resiliency, health…etc. Agrobiodiversity which is a vital sub-set of biodiversity playing a key role in food security will be increasingly threatened by climate change worldwide. Algeria is among the countries that will be most vulnerable to climate change due to its predominance of arid and semi-arid regions. Despite many efforts taken per Algeria to preserve biodiversity in general, genetic erosion of different ecosystems remains an alarming fact caused by several factors linked for climatic conditions, socio-cultural upheaval, difficulties for application of legislations, lack of consistent programs and adequate mechanisms for the effective implementation of the various strategies to safeguard biodiversity in the widest possible context. In this work, we discussed several aspects related to climate change and its impact on biodiversity and agro biodiversity on a global scale, the history of biodiversity and agrobiodiversity and the links between them. As we put special emphasis on Algeria, on its biodiversity and the impact of climate change on this country in general.
... Major avian migratory routes pass through here, contributing to its status as area of high bird diversity. The ecoregion is also home to a number of globally threatened wildlife species, including the critically endangered bald ibis and the Mediterranean monk seal, the loggerhead marine turtle, the Euphrates softshell turtle and the vulnerable imperial eagle (Valavanidis and Vlachogianni, 2010). Area in Iraq 1,475 km 2 (Iraq Ministry of Environment, 2010; Bachmann et al., 2011). ...
Chapter
Landscapes change in space and time creating a complex mosaic of patches, which are the result of a different history of disturbances. These disturbances largely depend on a multitude of concurrent factors that may be unrelated. Land mosaic is the result of opportunities, events, and novelties that operate at different spatial and temporal scales and that contribute to the environmental variability observed in a landscape. In addition, disturbances originated by human activity (e.g., agriculture intensification and abandonment, fire suppression, deforestation, livestock grazing, and development) concur to create the observed patchiness across landscapes.
Chapter
Wildfire features effect about 4 million km2 of land throughout the world every tire season. This is a global issue, especially in Mediterranean regions, where provision, regulation, and cultural ecosystem services are threatened (e.g., 8.2 million has burned between 1961 and 2021 in Spain), which are worldwide biodiversity hotspots; besides, their summer is also the dry season and is becoming longer and more intense with climate change, increasing the potential risk of tires in these a reas. Social and economic changes were sharp over the last decades in forested regions. However, is not wise to lose forest a reas of high ecological value. Restoring woodlands takes between a few and many decades, and it involves a large amount of money. lnstead, it is more logical to carry out preventive planning, and it creates new jobs in rural a reas. This paper addresses these problems by seeking proposals based on forest-society relations. lt aims especially at: (1) a novel compilation of the extent and time dynamics of forest tires and their main types, together with their relationships with the main weather, biogeochemical, and plant community aspects on a representative case study, (2) the international, i.e., mediterranean, scope, and decennial evolution of the surface affected by forest fires both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the total forest area, and (3) integrate the implications of social and economic factors and forest policies.
Book
This new book presents topical research in the study of the management and conservation of Mediterranean ecosystems. Also discussed in this compilation is conserving biodiversity through the protection and management of forest fragments in changing semiarid Mediterranean landscapes and the implications of land use changes in Mediterranean mountain ecosystems by rural abandonment.
Article
The plant diversity of Mediterranean forests is much greater than that of European forests. This rich diversity is a result of palaeogeographical (Verlaque et al., 1997) and historical factors as well as ecological conditions (Quezel, 1985). The Mediterranean region also shows closer interrelations than any other region in the world between its flora and major landscapes and the human activities that have been moulding them for nearly 10 000 years (Thirgood, 1981; Pons and Quezel, 1985). Indeed, Mediterranean plant biodiversity is to a large extent the result of a traditional and harmonious use of the environment. However, since the end of the nineteenth century, this balance has been upset in most places by overexploitation of natural resources or a general shift away from the land - two processes that have had different but equally harmful consequences for the conservation of species and habitats. Focusing on major or associated forest species, the following points will be examined: i) the wealth of woody species in the two Northern Hemisphere Mediterranean zones (California and the Mediterranean basin); ii) the biogeographical origin of the endemic species; and iii) the heritage value of and threats to species and forests of the Mediterranean region.
Chapter
Five regions of the world — the Mediterranean Basin, California, central Chile, the Cape Region of South Africa, and Western and South Australia (Fig. 1.1) — share a unique climatic regime with their characteristic conditions of mild wet winters and warm dry summers. This mediterraneantype climatic regime typically has 90% or more of annual precipitation falling in the six cool season months, mild winter conditions with infrequent and relatively mild frosts, and frequent periods of extended summer drought.
Article
Most suggested Quaternary land-bridges to mediterranean islands are geologically impossible. In an attempt to explain the presence of the vearious species, modes and ecological consequences of Quaternary island colonization by large mammals and main in the Mediterranean are discussed from a hypothetical point of view, as are the reasons for the extinction of the Quaternary fauna. Small aboricole mammals may have reached the islands on vegetation-rafts. Some larger mammals, like Myotragus on the Balearic Islands, Prolagus on Sardinia, and possibly endemic deer on the Aegean islands, could be relics of the desiccation of the Mediterranean on the Mio/Pliocene border. Hippos, elephants and giant deer reached the islands by swimming. At the arrival of new species, older endemic species became extinct by ecological competition. Overpopulation consisting of a single or few species with corresponding damages to the vegetation led to dwarfing and a adaptation to hard foods. Because of the lack of carnivores, the genetical fixed behavior patterns for flight and attack are lost in island endemics. During hte Middle (Corso-Sardinia) and Upper Pleistocene, suspected or established (Sardinia, Cyprus, Sicily) invasion of Homo sp. led to the near-complete extinction of the unwary endemic fauna. Some islands (Sicily, corso-Sardinia) were repopulated by swimming ungulates which were extermined by later human invasions. For lack of game, a permanent human settlement was nearly impossible before the Neolithic. All extant wild ungulates on the Mediterranean islands are feral domestic animals, or continental game with intact behavioural patterns introduced for religious or hunting purposes during the Neolithic or later. None of them has Pleistocene ancestors on the islands.
Book
This volume explores the climates, landscapes, ecosystems and hazards that comprise the Mediterranean world. It traces the development of the Mediterranean landscape over very long timescales and examines modern processes and key environmental issues in a wide range of settings. The Mediterranean is the only region on Earth where three continents meet and this interaction has produced a very distinctive Physical Geography. This book examines the landscapes and processes at themargins of these continents and the distinctive marine environment between them. Catastrophic earthquakes, explosive volcanic eruptions and devastating storms and floods are intimately bound up within the history and mythology of the Mediterranean world. This is a key region for the study of naturalhazards because it offers unrivalled access to long records of hazard occurrence and impact through documentary, archaeological and geological archives. The Mediterranean is also a biodiversity hotspot; it has been a meeting place for plants, animals and humans from three continents throughout much of its history. The Quaternary records of these interactions are more varied and better preserved than in any other part of the world. These records have provided important new insights into thetempo of climate, landscape and ecosystem change in the Mediterranean region and beyond. The region is unique because of the very early and widespread impact of humans in landscape and ecosystem change - and the richness of the archaeological and geological archives that chronicle this impact. This bookexamines this history and these interactions and places current environmental issues in long term context. Contributors : Ramadan Husain Abu-Zied Harriet Allen Jacques Blondel Maria-Carmen Llasat James Casford Marc Castellnou Andrew Goudie Andrew Harding Angela Hayes Tom Holt Babette Hoogakker Philip Hughes Jos Lelieveld John Lewin Francisco Lloret Francisco Lopez-Bermudez Mark Macklin Jean Margat Anne Mather Frédéric Médail Christophe Morhange Clive Oppenheimer JeanPalutikof Gerassimos Papadopoulos Josep Piñol David Pyle Jane Reed Neil Roberts Eelco Rohling Iain Stewart Stathis Stiros John Thornes Chronis Tzedakis John Wainwright