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In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin // (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation.
The Mediterranean basin covers portions of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa.
It has a varied and contrasting topography. The Mediterranean Region offers an ever-changing landscape of high mountains, rocky shores, impenetrable scrub, semi-arid steppes, coastal wetlands, sandy beaches and a myriad islands of various shapes and sizes dotted amidst the clear blue sea. Contrary to the classic sandy beach images portrayed in most tourist brochures, the Mediterranean is surprisingly hilly. Mountains can be seen from almost anywhere.
The Mediterranean Basin extends into Western Asia, covering the western and southern portions of the peninsula of Turkey, excluding the temperate-climate mountains of central Turkey. It includes the Mediterranean climate Levant at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, bounded on the east and south by the Syrian and Negev deserts.
The northern portion of the Maghreb region of northwestern Africa has a Mediterranean climate, separated from the Sahara Desert, which extends across North Africa, by the Atlas Mountains. In the eastern Mediterranean the Sahara extends to the southern shore of the Mediterranean, with the exception of the northern fringe of the peninsula of Cyrenaica in Libya, which has a dry Mediterranean climate.
Europe lies to the north of the Mediterranean, and three large Southern European peninsulas, the Iberian Peninsula, Italian Peninsula, and the Balkan Peninsula, extend into and comprise much of the Mediterranean-climate zone. A system of folded mountains, including the Pyrenees dividing Spain from France, the Alps dividing Italy from Central Europe, the Dinaric Alps along the eastern Adriatic, and the Balkan and Rila-Rhodope mountains of the Balkan Peninsula divide the Mediterranean from the temperate climate regions of Western, Northwestern or Northern Europe, Central Europe, and Eastern Europe.
The Mediterranean Basin was shaped by the ancient collision of the northward-moving African–Arabian continent with the stable Eurasian continent. As Africa–Arabia moved north, it closed the former Tethys Sea, which formerly separated Eurasia from the ancient super continent of Gondwana, of which Africa was part. At about the same time, 170 mya in the Jurassic period, a small Neotethys ocean basin formed shortly before the Tethys Sea was closed at the eastern end. The collision pushed up a vast system of mountains, extending from the Pyrenees in Spain to the Zagros Mountains in Iran. This episode of mountain building, known as the Alpine orogeny, occurred mostly during the Oligocene (34 to 23 million years ago (mya)) and Miocene (23 to 5.3 mya) epochs. The Neotethys became larger during these collisions and associated folding and subduction.
About 6 mya during the late Miocene, the Mediterranean was closed at its western end by drifting Africa, which caused the entire sea to evaporate. There followed several (debated) episodes of sea drawdown and re-flooding known as the Messinian Salinity Crisis, which ended when the Atlantic last re-flooded the basin at the end of the Miocene.Recent research has suggested that a desiccation-flooding cycle may have repeated several times during the last 630,000 years of the Miocene epoch, which could explain several events of large amounts of salt deposition. Recent studies, however, show that repeated desiccation and re-flooding is unlikely from a geodynamic point of view.
The end of the Miocene also marked a change in the Mediterranean Basin's climate. Fossil evidence shows that the Mediterranean Basin had a relatively humid subtropical climate with summer rainfall during the Miocene, which supported laurel forests. The shift to a Mediterranean climate occurred within the last 3.2–2.8 million years, during the Pliocene epoch, as summer rainfall decreased. The subtropical laurel forests retreated, although they persisted on the islands of Macaronesia off the Atlantic coast of Iberia and North Africa, and the present Mediterranean vegetation evolved, dominated by coniferous trees and sclerophyllous trees and shrubs, with small, hard, waxy leaves that prevent moisture loss in the dry summers. Much of these forests and shrublands have been altered beyond recognition by thousands of years of human habitation. There are now very few relatively intact natural areas in what was once a heavily wooded region.
Phytogeographically, the Mediterranean basin together with the nearby Atlantic coast, the Mediterranean woodlands and forests and Mediterranean dry woodlands and steppe of North Africa, the Black Sea coast of northeastern Anatolia, the southern coast of Crimea between Sevastopol and Feodosiya and the Black Sea coast between Anapa and Tuapse in Russia forms the Mediterranean Floristic Region, which belongs to the Tethyan Subkingdom of the Boreal Kingdom and is enclosed between the Circumboreal, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Macaronesian floristic regions.
The Mediterranean Region was first proposed by German botanist August Grisebach in the late 19th century.
Drosophyllaceae, recently segregated from Droseraceae, is the only plant family endemic to the region. Among the endemic plant genera are:[ dubious ]
The genera Aubrieta , Sesamoides , Cynara , Dracunculus , Arisarum and Biarum are nearly endemic. Among the endemic species prominent in the Mediterranean vegetation are the Aleppo pine, stone pine, Mediterranean cypress, bay laurel, Oriental sweetgum, holm oak, kermes oak, strawberry tree, Greek strawberry tree, mastic, terebinth, common myrtle, oleander, Acanthus mollis and Vitex agnus-castus . Moreover, many plant taxa are shared with one of the four neighboring floristic regions only. According to different versions of Armen Takhtajan's delineation, the Mediterranean Region is further subdivided into seven to nine floristic provinces: Southwestern Mediterranean (or Southern Moroccan and Southwestern Mediterranean), Ibero-Balearian (or Iberian and Balearian), Liguro-Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, East Mediterranean, South Mediterranean and Crimeo-Novorossiysk.
The Mediterranean Basin is the largest of the world's five Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub regions. It is home to a number of plant communities, which vary with rainfall, elevation, latitude, and soils.
The Mediterranean Basin is home to considerable biodiversity, including 22,500 endemic vascular plant species. Conservation International designates the region as a biodiversity hotspot, because of its rich biodiversity and its threatened status. The Mediterranean Basin has an area of 2,085,292 km2, of which only 98,009 km2 remains undisturbed.
Endangered mammals of the Mediterranean Basin include the Mediterranean monk seal, the Barbary macaque, and the Iberian lynx.
Neanderthals inhabited western Asia and the non-glaciated portions of Europe starting about 230,000 years ago. Modern humans moved into western Asia from Africa less than 100,000 years ago. Modern humans, known as Cro-Magnons, moved into Europe approximately 50-40,000 years ago.
The most recent glacial period, the Wisconsin glaciation, reached its maximum extent approximately 21,000 years ago, and ended approximately 12,000 years ago. A warm period, known as the Holocene climatic optimum, followed the ice age.
Food crops, including wheat, chickpeas, and olives, along with sheep and goats, were domesticated in the eastern Mediterranean in the 9th millennium BCE, which allowed for the establishment of agricultural settlements. Near Eastern crops spread to southeastern Europe in the 7th millennium BCE. Poppy and oats were domesticated in Europe from the 6th to the 3rd millennium BCE. Agricultural settlements spread around the Mediterranean Basin. Megaliths were constructed in Europe from 4500 – 1500 BCE.
A strengthening of the summer monsoon 9000–7000 years ago increased rainfall across the Sahara, which became a grassland, with lakes, rivers, and wetlands. After a period of climatic instability, the Sahara settled into a desert state by the 4th millennium BCE.
Wheat is the dominant grain grown around the Mediterranean Basin. Pulses and vegetables are also grown. The characteristic tree crop is the olive. Figs are another important fruit tree, and citrus, especially lemons, are grown where irrigation is present. Grapes are an important vine crop, grown for fruit and to make wine. Rice and summer vegetables are grown in irrigated areas.
Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is a large peninsula in West Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west. The Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the Balkan peninsula of Europe.
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa and on the east by the Levant. Although the sea is sometimes considered a part of the Atlantic Ocean, it is usually referred to as a separate body of water. Geological evidence indicates that around 5.9 million years ago, the Mediterranean was cut off from the Atlantic and was partly or completely desiccated over a period of some 600,000 years before being refilled by the Zanclean flood about 5.3 million years ago.
The Palearctic or Palaearctic is one of the eight biogeographic realms on the Earth's surface, first identified in the 19th century, and is still in use as the basis for zoogeographic classification. The Palearctic is the largest of the eight realms. It stretches across all of Europe, Asia north of the foothills of the Himalayas, North Africa, and the northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
The stone pine, botanical name Pinus pinea, also known as the Italian stone pine, umbrella pine and parasol pine, is a tree from the pine family (Pinaceae). The tree is native to the Mediterranean region, occurring in Southern Europe, Israel, Lebanon and Syria. It is also naturalized in North Africa, the Canary Islands, South Africa and New South Wales. The species was introduced into North Africa millennia ago, such a long time that it is essentially indistinguishable from being native.
Laurel forest, also called laurisilva or laurissilva, is a type of subtropical forest found in areas with high humidity and relatively stable, mild temperatures. The forest is characterized by broadleaf tree species with evergreen, glossy and elongated leaves, known as "laurophyll" or "lauroid". Plants from the laurel family (Lauraceae) may or may not be present, depending on the location.
The Messinian Salinity Crisis (MSC), also referred to as the Messinian Event, and in its latest stage as the Lago Mare event, was a geological event during which the Mediterranean Sea went into a cycle of partly or nearly complete desiccation throughout the latter part of the Messinian age of the Miocene epoch, from 5.96 to 5.33 Ma. It ended with the Zanclean flood, when the Atlantic reclaimed the basin.
Biodiversity in Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip is about the fauna and flora in the geographical region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip. This geographical area within the region of Palestine extends from the Jordan River and Wadi Araba in the east, to the Mediterranean Sea and the Sinai desert in the west, to Lebanon in the north, and to the gulf of Aqaba, or Eilat in the south.
The Aegean Region is one of the 7 geographical regions of Turkey.
The Marmara Region is a geographical region of Turkey.
The Mediterranean Region is a geographical region of Turkey.
The woodlands of the Iberian Peninsula are distinct ecosystems on the Iberian Peninsula. Although the various regions are each characterized by distinct vegetation, the borders between these regions are not clearly defined, and there are some similarities across the peninsula.
The Illyrian deciduous forests form a terrestrial ecoregion of Europe according to both the WWF and Digital Map of European Ecological Regions by the European Environment Agency. It belongs to the biome of Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub, and to the Palearctic ecozone.
The flora of Italy was traditionally estimated to comprise about 5,500 vascular plant species. However, as of 2019, 7,672 species are recorded in the second edition of the flora of Italy and in its digital archives Digital flora of Italy. In particular, 7031 are autochtonous and 641 are non native species widely naturalized since more than three decades. Additionally, further 468 exotic species have been recorded as adventitious or naturalized in more recent times. Geobotanically, the Italian flora is shared between the Circumboreal Region and Mediterranean Region. According to the index compiled by the Italian Ministry for the Environment in 2001, 274 vascular plant species were protected.
The term Italian Sclerophyllous and deciduous forests ecoregion, in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Biome, is in Italy. The region extends from the Po Basin to the Apennine Mountains of Basilicata and Calabria. Rock types are limestone, dolomite, marl, schist-marl, and sandstone.
The South Apennine mixed montane forests is an Ecoregion, in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Biome, located in the Southern Apennine Mountains, in southern Italy and on Sicily.
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.
Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub is a biome defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. The biome is generally characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, although in some areas rainfall may be uniform. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near colder seas. Winters are typically mild to cool in low-lying locations but can be cold in inland and higher locations. All these ecoregions are highly distinctive, collectively harboring 10% of the Earth's plant species.
The wildlife of Spain includes the diverse flora and fauna of Spain. The country has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and another on the Mediterranean Sea, and its territory includes the Canary Islands, the Balearic Islands and two enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla. The country has many endemic species, especially those restricted to the island groups. The habitats include mountains, hills, forests, rivers, lakes, coasts, grassland and cultivated land.
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