Wildlife of Turkey
The wildlife of Turkey is abundant and very varied. Turkey is a large country with many geographic and climatic regions and a great diversity of plants and animals, each suited to its own particular habitat. About 1500 species of vertebrates have been recorded in the country and around 19,000 species of invertebrate. There are about 11,000 species of flowering plants; some of the world's staple crops were first cultivated in this area, and many of their wild relatives are still found here. The country acts as a cross roads with links to Europe, Asia and the Near East, and many birds use the country as a staging post during migration.
The territory of Turkey is more than 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) long and 800 km (500 mi) wide, with a roughly rectangular shape. Turkey is divided in two parts by the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles. Asian Turkey, which includes 97 percent of the country, is separated from European Turkey European Turkey comprises 3 percent of the country. Turkey's area, including lakes, occupies 783,562 square kilometres (300,948 sq mi). The country is encircled by seas on three sides: the Aegean Sea to the west, the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean to the south.
The country has varied topography with fertile coastal plains contrasting with mountainous regions in the centre and eastern part of the country. The climate also varies, with the weather systems found near the coasts contrasting with those prevailing in the interior. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have hot, fairly dry summers and cool, rainy winters. The interior of the country has a continental climate with severe weather on the Anatolian plateau in winter, and hot, dry summers. These large differences in climate are reflected in an extremely diverse flora and fauna.
In the whole of Turkey there are about 11,000 species of flowering plant, about a third of which are endemic to the country. This area played a key role in the early cultivation of wheat, other cereals and various horticultural crops. The country is divided into three main floristic areas; the Mediterranean area; the Euro-Siberian area; and the Irano-Tranian area. The flora of the European part of Turkey is similar to that of adjoining Greece. The ecoregions here include Balkan mixed forests dominated by oaks and containing Scots pine, Bosnian pine, Macedonian pine, silver fir and Norway spruce, and Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests where some of the main species are oaks, strawberry tree, Greek strawberry tree, Spanish broom and laurel.
The Euro-Siberian area is a mountainous ecoregion lying within western Turkey. Here the flora transitions from the Mediterranean vegetation type to the Anatolian plateau. The dominant vegetation cover here is forests of oak and pine, especially Anatolian black pine and Turkish pine. Further east is the Anatolian plateau, a largely treeless area of plains and river basins at an average altitude of 1,000 m (3,300 ft). This area is characterised by hot dry summers and cold winters. Salt steppes and lakes are found here, as well salt-free grassland areas, marshes and freshwater systems. Immediately around the large Lake Tuz and other saline areas, saltmarsh plants grow, and beyond this is a sharp divide, with the flora being dominated by members of the families Chenopodiaceae and Plumbaginaceae.
The mountainous eastern half of the country is separated floristically from the rest of the country by the Anatolian diagonal, a floral break that crosses the country from the eastern end of the Black Sea to the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. Many species found to the east of this break are not found to the west and vice versa, and about four hundred species are only found along this divide. The natural vegetation in eastern Turkey is the Eastern Anatolian deciduous forests; in these oaks such as Brant's oak, Lebanon oak, Aleppo oak and Mount Thabor's oak predominate in open woodland with Scots pine, burnet rose, dog-rose, oriental plane, alder, sweet chestnut, maple, Caucasian honeysuckle and common juniper.
Turkey has a large range of habitat types and the diversity of its fauna is very great. There are nearly 1,500 species of vertebrate recorded of which over 100 species, mostly fish, are endemic. The country is on two major routes used by migratory birds which swells the numbers in spring and autumn. The invertebrates are also very diverse, with about 19,000 species being recorded including 4,000 endemics.
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- Mediterranean monk seal (Critically endangered) – less than 500 individuals all around the world
- Northern bald ibis (Critically endangered) – main groups live in Morocco and Turkey
- Asia Minor spiny mouse (Critically endangered)
- Rana holtzi (Toros frog; Critically endangered) – endemic to Turkey
- Pseudophoxinus maeandricus (Sandıklı spring minnow; Critically endangered) – known from a single stream.
- White-headed duck (Endangered)
- Red-breasted goose (Endangered)
- Loggerhead sea turtle (Endangered)
- Great bustard (Vulnerable)
- Dalmatian pelican (Vulnerable)
- Lesser kestrel (Vulnerable)
- Egyptian vulture (Vulnerable)
- Wild goat (Vulnerable)
- Greater spotted eagle (Vulnerable)
- Eastern imperial eagle (Vulnerable)
- Saker falcon (Vulnerable)
The following species have reportedly become extinct in Turkey, at least since the 20th Century:
- Oriental darter (Near Threatened; extinct locally) – Due to the drying of Lake Amik.
- Anatolian leopard (Extinct worldwide).
- Asiatic lion.
- Caspian tiger (Extinct worldwide) – The last known one was shot in 1974, in Hakkari Province.
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