An overview of biodiversity and conservation status of steppes of the Anatolian Biogeographical Region

Ambarli D., Zeydanli U. S., Balkiz O., ASLAN S., KARAÇETİN BELL E., SÖZEN M., ...More

BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION, vol.25, no.12, pp.2491-2519, 2016 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 12
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10531-016-1172-0
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.2491-2519
  • Keywords: Dry grassland, Land use, Protected area, Threat, Turkey, Vascular plants, SOUTHWEST ASIA, LAND-USE, TURKEY, DOMESTICATION, AGRICULTURE, CHALLENGES, VEGETATION, DIVERSITY, ORIGINS, AREAS
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


The Anatolian Biogeographical Region is unique in the Palearctic realm, with high plant and butterfly species richness and populations of globally threatened birds, mammals and herptiles (amphibians and reptiles). It is a place of diverse land-use practices, dating back to the earliest farming practices in the world. Among 10,930 species of vascular plants, birds, butterflies, mammals and herptiles distributed in Turkey, we identified 1130 living predominantly in steppic environments and being classified either as threatened, near-threatened or data deficient at the national level, if not globally. A total of 28 effective protected areas were present in the region, covering 1.5 % of the 391,597 km(2) land area. Only 16.2 % of the threatened and near-threatened species (n = 809) were distributed within the protected area network, ranging from 94.1 % for birds to as low as 12.9 % for vascular plants. The total area of steppe and steppe forest vegetation has been reduced by at least 44 % of its former extent due to diverse habitat destructive activities. The most significant threats arise from unsustainable agricultural activities including overgrazing, conversion to croplands and afforestation. To maintain steppe diversity, we propose a "to-do list", including mainstreaming biodiversity, effective implementation of Turkey's Rangeland Act, conducting effective environmental impact assessments, establishing an effective site network for steppe biodiversity conservation and filling gaps in scientific knowledge.