Friday, December 14, 2012
Mediterranean Ecological Zone (16)
The Mediterranean zone in Europe, North Africa, and Asia Minor (around the Mediterranean Sea) is characterized by hot, dry summers and mild to cool rainy winters. The region, as defined by the World Wildlife Fund, contains a large diversity of habitats and species such as the Pindus Mountains mixed forests (in Greece, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania), Dinaric Mountains mixed forests (in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina). Vegetation types can range from forests to woodlands, savannas, shrublands, and grasslands; "mosaic habitat" landscapes are common, where differing vegetation types are interleaved with one another in complex patterns created by variations in soil, topography, exposure to wind and sun, and fire history.
Mediterranean shrublands have flora that are significantly more diverse than the other ecoregions relative to other non-forest ecoregions. The Mediterranean biome is characterized by shrubs. In most regions these shrubs are evergreen and have small, leathery (sclerophyllous) leaves with thick cuticles to retain moisture in the dry summer months. Sometimes the leaves are so reduced as to appear needle-like. Many typical members of the shrub flora are aromatic (for example, sage, rosemary, thyme, and oregano) and contain highly flammable oils.
Mediterranean regions have long been impacted by humans especially through the use of fire and the grazing of livestock. We know from classical Greek literature that the area was formerly forested with live oaks, pines, cedars, wild carob and wild olive. Much of the formation is considered a subclimax developed on degraded and eroded soils and maintained in part by fire and goats.
Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub Ecoregions". WWF.
Further to the west are the Dinaric Mountains mixed forests (in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina),