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Ecoregion Description

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Species Richness

# of Endemic Species


432: Southern Anatolia

Major Habitat Type:

temperate coastal rivers


Brian Coad


Cyprus; Turkey


The ecoregion includes the southern area of Anatolian Turkey and the islands of Cyprus and Crete, including the drainages of the Aksu, Göksu, Seyhan, and Ceyhan rivers. Most of the rivers originate in the Taurus Mountains to the north, and empty into the Mediterranean Sea in the south. It is bounded by the Western Anatolia [429], Central Anatolia [431], and Northern Anatolia [430] ecoregions to the north and west, by the Upper Tigris-Euphrates [442] and Orontes [437] ecoregions to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south (and around the islands).

Drainages flowing into:

Mediterranean Sea

Main rivers or other water bodies:

Aksu, Isparta, Kopru, Göksu, Seyhan and Ceyhan rivers and lakes Egridir and Burdur


The Taurus Mountains are pierced by river valleys with narrow coastal plains except at Antalaya and Adana. The mountains are less dissected by river systems than the Pontus Mountains in the Northern Anatolia ecoregion [430]. Elevations in the ecoregion range from sea level to over 3500 m.


The ecoregion experiences a Mediterranean climate, with warm, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Yearly precipitation in the Taurus Mountains ranges from 800–2,000 mm. Along the coast precipitation ranges from 1,000-1,250 mm around Antalya to 600-800 mm in Mersin, Adana, and Iskenderun Bay. Cyprus’s climate varies from semiarid at lower elevations (rainfall less than 300 mm) to the cold and humid higher elevations (total rainfall up to 1100 mm).

Freshwater habitats:

The Ceyhan and Seyhan rivers follow a steep gradient onto the Adana plain.

Terrestrial Habitats:

The southern slopes of the Taurus Mountain Range are forested with Mediterranean maquis, but the northern slopes facing the plateau have meager vegetation. There are some tree crops in the east at lower elevations as well as irrigation farming. The island of Cyprus is characterized by Mediterranean forests, and includes endemic plants like the endangered Cyprus cedar (Cedrus brevifolia) and Cyprus oak (Quercus alnifolia) (WWF 2001).

Fish Fauna:

The ecoregion contains nearly 70 species in 20 families, of which around 12 have marine origins. Cyprinidae is the dominant family with nearly half of the species.

Description of endemic fishes:

The ecoregion contains no endemic genera but roughly 20% of the species are endemic. Endemic species include Alburnus baliki, Capoeta angorae, C. antalyensis, Isparta minnow (Crossocheilus klatti), Gobio hettitorum, Pseudophoxinus antalyae, P. egridiri, P. fahirae, P. handlirsch (Cyprinidae); Aphanius burdurensis (Cyprinodontidae); Barbatula seyhanensis, Orthrias tschaiyssuensis, Schistura samantica (Balitoridae); and flathead trout (Salmo platycephalus) (Salmonidae).

Other noteworthy fishes:

The diversity of tooth-carps or cyprinodontids is unusual and, within the cyprinids, the number of described and undescribed species in the genus Pseudophoxinus is remarkable (five described and three undescribed).

Other noteworthy aquatic biotic elements:

Lake Burdur is an important wetland supporting up to 70% of the world population of white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala). Burdur also contains an endemic zooplankton, Arctodioptomus burduricus. An endemic stonefly is recorded from near Antakya (Banarescu 1992). Almiros or brackish water springs on Crete have not been fully explored and may be used for trout farms, which affects the native invertebrate fauna. The fish fauna of Cyprus appears to be entirely exotic and would have had deleterious effects on the native invertebrate fauna. Crete has an endemic tree frog and marsh frog.

Ecological phenomena:

Lake Egridir supports a fishery that is important to the diet of local people. Exotic species of fish have seriously affected native species, such as pike-perch (Sander lucioperca).

Evolutionary phenomena:

Species radiations in cyprinodontids, the cyprinid genera Pseudophoxinus, and to a lesser extent in other cyprinids, as well as the presence of a unique trout species in a southern location, are noteworthy.

Justification for delineation:

The ecoregion was distinguished based on high levels of endemism in certain genera, a relatively diverse fauna, and the endemic trout. The Göksu (or Gök) delta, Lake Burdur, and Akytan lagoon near Adana are Ramsar Sites. The clupeid Alosa fallax; the cyprinodontids Aphanius anatoliae, A. fasciatus, and A. sureyanus; the cyprinids Capoeta antalyensis, C. pestai, Pseudophoxinus handlirschiGobio hettitorum, and Crossocheilus klatti; the balitorid Orthrias tschaiyssuensis; and the salmonid Salmo platycephalus are all in the Red Data Book.

Level of taxonomic exploration:



Banarescu, P. (1992). "Zoogeography of Fresh Waters" 2 Weisbaden, Germany: AULA - Verlag.

World Wildlife, Fund (2001). "Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World" 2005 (2005;

The Nature Conservancy World Wildlife Fund
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