Eggs in the Sand
The coastline of the eastern Mediterranean is an important nesting ground for at least two threatened species of turtle--the loggerhead and green turtle. These creatures join the many birds and mammals that enliven this ecoregion.
Vegetation is widely varied here. It includes occurrences of cedar of Lebanon, evergreen scrub, flowering annuals, coastal dune communities with sea grasses, fig trees, and patches of black pine. The vegetation grows in two to three layers, with the highest of these reaching a height of only 13 feet (4 m) or so. Trees tend to be short and thick with twisted, spreading branches. Fire is a frequent occurrence and an important part of plants’ lives. Some pines hold their cones until a fire triggers them to release their seeds. Rain is seasonal, falling between October and March. Winters are mild and wet, and summers are warm and dry. Lakes in the eastern part of this ecoregion are part of the source for the Euphrates River, which empties into the Persian Gulf.
Many species of wild daffodil and iris color the landscape as spring approaches. One of the only strictly arboreal species of lizard in Europe--the European chameleon--may be seen lurking on a tree branch, stalking insects. A Kotschy’s gecko or a snake-eyed lizard may also be seen scurrying across a rocky scrub area or sunning on a rock. Mammals include lesser white-toothed shrews, serotine bats, golden jackals, red foxes, and weasels.
Cause for Concern
The main threats to this ecoregion are logging, overgrazing, commercial collecting of plant bulbs, urbanization, and development for tourism along the coast.
For more information on this ecoregion, go to the World Wildlife Fund Scientific Report.All text by World Wildlife Fund © 2001