Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands and Scrub

About the Area

The Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub is one of only five shrublands of its kind, which together support 20 percent of the plant species on Earth. An incredible variety of plants grow in this ecoregion that covers coastal, plains, and highland regions. More than 25,000 species of plants occur here, and more than half are endemic.

Many areas in this ecoregion share common plants known collectively as "maquis" - characterized by short evergreen shrubs and oak trees. These species have similar ways of surviving in such conditions by using thick, leathery leaves to retain water when it's hot, or special veins to transport moisture when it rains.

Local Species
Habitats throughout the ecoregion support numerous endemic plants: Polygonum idaeum, found on limestone mountains, the grazing-resistant Verbascum spinosum, the monotypic Petramarula pinnata, and the relict species Jankaea heldreichei and Arabis josiae. Most large mammals within the region are considered endangered.

They include Leopard (Panthera pardus), endemic Maghreb deer (Cervus elaphus barbaricus), Macaque (Macaca sylvanus), Iberian lynx (Lynx pardina), Bear (Ursus arctos), Wolf (Canis lupis), Spanish ibex (Capra pyrenaica) and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia).

Bird species include White-breasted kingfisher (Halcyon smyrnensis), Bonelli's eagle (Hieraaeutus pennatus), Long-legged buzzard (Buteo rufinus), Lesser short-toed lark (Calandrella rufescens), Rufous bush robin (Cercotrichas glactotes), Scrub warbler (Scotocerca inquieta), Fan-tailed warbler (Cisticola juncidis), Olive-tree warbler (Hippolais pallida), Laurel pigeon (Columba junoniae) and Spectacled warbler (Sylvia conspicillata).

Reptiles include banded Lizard-fingered gecko (Saurodactylus fasciatus), Mediterranean worm lizard (Blanus mettetali), and Andreansky's lizard (Lacerta andreanskyi).

Threats
Most natural communities have been degraded or permanently altered throughout the Mediterranean basin. The ecoregion is threatened by continuing conversion to agriculture, pasture, and urban areas. Frequent fires, logging of remaining native woodlands, exotic species, and intensive grazing are also threats.

Resources

Size:
2,265,581 sq. km (874,740 sq.miles)

Habitat type:
Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub

Geographic Location:
Southern Europe, Northern Africa, western Near East, and Asia Minor

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Quiz Time!

Which product are Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub most identified with?

Answer:
If there is any natural symbol of the Mediterranean, it has to be the olive tree. The fruit of this broad-leaved, tall, evergreen tree has been cultivated since about 3,000 BC, and its oil was used for rituals in ancient Greece and Rome. Today, many of the countries that contain areas of Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub are major producers of olive oil.

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