Anatolian Freshwater | WWF

Anatolian Freshwater

Wheat harvest, Anatolia, Turkey.
© WWF / Edward PARKER

About the Area

As compared to surrounding drier areas, the Anatolian freshwater ecoregion supports diverse freshwater habitats that include both running-water and lake environments.

One of the largest rivers in the ecoregion, the Ceyhan, starts in the nearby Toros Mountains and flows for hundreds of miles before pouring into the Mediterranean.

This region historically supported about 20 species and 10 subspecies of endemic fish, many with very local distributions. Also, the lakes here are an important habitat for migrating waterbirds.
500,000 sq. km (193,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:

Xeric Basins

Geographic Location:
Western Asia: on the Eastern Mediterranean in Syria and Turkey

Conservation Status:

Local Species

A number of endemic fish species within the ecoregion that are of conservation concern include the Alburnus akili, two subspecies of Capoeta capoeta, Chondrostoma holmwoodii, Leucalburnus kosswigi, Phoxinellus anatolicus, Phoxinellus egridiri, and Aphanius burduricus.

Waterbirds that occur in abundance include the Great bustard (Otis tarda), Ruddy shellduck (Tadorna ferrugininea), and Common crane (Grus grus).

Featured species

Great bustard (Otis tarda)

The male of this huge bird is possibly the heaviest extant bird capable of flight. An adult male is normally 1.1 meters (3.7 feet) long with a 2.4 meter (7.9 foot) wingspan and an average weight of 13.5 kg (30 lb). The female is 30% smaller and half the weight, averaging 6.5 kg (14.3 lb).

The Great bustards breed in March, and a single male may mate with up to 5 females. This species is omnivorous, taking seeds, insects and other small creatures, including frogs and beetles. Great bustards typically live for around 10 years, but some have been known to live up to 15 years or more.

This bird's habitat is open grassland, although it can be found on undisturbed cultivation. It has a stately slow walk, and tends to run when disturbed rather than fly. It is gregarious, especially in winter.

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Habitat loss, excessive water diversions, pollution from industry, agriculture, and domestic sources, overfishing, draining of wetlands for malarial control, dams, and introduced species (particularly Zander - Stizostedion lucioperca) are the principle threats to this ecoregion.

WWF’s work

A study by WWF has identified the most important coastal and marine areas for biodiversity in the Mediterranean. These areas are also threatened by mass tourism development.

WWF is urging tourism investors to carefully plan their future developments in the Mediterranean. Next May in Rome, WWF will invite investors such as banks, hotel companies, and tour-operators to assess the ecological sustainability of their tourism development projects and build rules for sustainable investments. A risk map of vulnerable environments in relation to tourism development will be presented. The aim is to agree on guidelines for sustainable tourism in ecologically vulnerable areas.

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