Turkey is located in three biogeographical regions: Anatolian, Mediterranean, the Black Sea region, and their transition zones. Its climatic and geographical features change within short intervals of space due to the country’s position – a bridge between two continents. Thanks to its location, Turkey’s biological diversity can be compared to that of a small continent: the country’s territory consists of forests, mountains, steppe, wetlands, coastal and marine ecosystems and different forms and combinations of these systems.
This extraordinary ecosystem and habitat diversity has produced considerable species diversity. Turkish fauna biodiversity is quite high compared with the biodiversity of other countries in the temperate zone. Despite the lack of data, invertebrates constitute the largest group among the identified living species. The total number of invertebrate species in Turkey is about 19,000, of which about 4,000 species/subspecies are endemic. The total number of vertebrate species identified to date is nearly 1,500. Of the vertebrates, over 100 species are endemic, including 70 species of fish. Anatolia is home to the Fallow Deer and the Pheasant. The fact that Turkey is located on two major bird migration routes in the world makes it an important feeding and breeding area for birds.
Turkey has a wealth of flora species. A comparison with the continent of Europe is sufficient to illustrate such wealth: while there are 12,500 gymnospermous and angiospermous plant species in the entire continent of Europe, it is known that about 11,000 such species are present in Anatolia alone, with some one third of them endemic to Turkey. Eastern Anatolia and Southern Anatolia among the geographical regions, and the Irano-Turanian and Mediterranean regions among the phytogeograhical regions, are rich in endemic plant species.
Turkey’s genetic diversity becomes important with plant genetic resources in particular because Turkey is located at the intersection of the Mediterranean and Near Eastern gene centres. These two regions have a key role in the emergence of cereals and horticultural crops. There are 5 micro-gene centres in the country in which more than 100 species display wide variation and which are the origin or centre of a large number of important crop plants and other economically important plant species, such as medical plants. These centres offer very important genetic resources for the future sustainability of many plant species cultivated around the world. In terms of animal genetic resources, many domestic animal species have been originally bred in Anatolia as a result of its location and spread from here to other regions of the world.
Turkey’s wealth of biological diversity needs to be studied and conserved taking into consideration ecosystems, species, genes and biological functions, and their significance for agriculture, forestry and industry.
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