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Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub is a
biome A biome is a collection of flora, plants and fauna, animals that have common characteristics for the natural environment, environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological community (ecology ...
defined by the
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
. The biome is generally characterized by dry summers and rainy winters, although in some areas rainfall may be uniform. Summers are typically hot in low-lying inland locations but can be cool near colder seas. Winters are typically mild to cool in low-lying locations but can be cold in inland and higher locations. All these ecoregions are highly distinctive, collectively harboring 10% of the Earth's plant species.


Distribution

The Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome mostly occurs in, but not limited to, the
Mediterranean climate A Mediterranean climate or dry summer climate is characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters. The climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere, describing for example the degre ...
zones, in the mid-latitudes: *the
Mediterranean Basin In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin (also known as the Mediterranean region or sometimes Mediterranea) is the region of lands around the Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by ...
*the
Chilean Matorral The Chilean Matorral (NT1201) is a terrestrial ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion A bioregion is an ecology, ecological ...
*the
California chaparral and woodlands The California chaparral and woodlands is a terrestrial ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion A bioregion is an ecology, ...
ecoregion of
California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...

California
and the
Baja California Peninsula The Baja California Peninsula ( en, Lower California Peninsula, es, Península de Baja California) is a peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while be ...
*the
Western Cape The Western Cape ( af, Wes-Kaap; xh, iNtshona-Koloni) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnation ...
of
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 60 million people, it is the world's List of countries by population, 23rd-most ...

South Africa
*the
southwest The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity ...
and
southern Australia The term Southern Australia is generally considered to refer to the states and territories of Australia The states and territories are federated administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , c ...
. The biome is not limited to the Mediterranean climate zone. It can also be present in other climate zones (which typically border the Mediterranean climate zone), such as the drier regions of the
oceanic Oceanic may refer to: *Of or relating to the ocean *Of or relating to Oceania **Oceanic climate **Oceanic languages **Oceanic person or people, also called "Pacific Islander(s)" Places *Oceanic, British Columbia, a settlement on Smith Island, Br ...
and
humid subtropical climate A humid subtropical climate is a zone of climate characterized by hot and humid summers, and cool to mild winters. These climates normally lie on the southeast side of all continents, generally between latitude In geography Geograp ...
s, and as well as the lusher areas of the
semi-arid climate A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is the climate Climate is the long-term average of weather, typically averaged over a period of 30 years. More rigorously, it is the mean and variability of meteorological variables ove ...
zone. Non-Mediterranean climate regions that would feature Mediterranean vegetation include the
Nile River Valley The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...
in
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
(extending upstream along the riverbanks), parts of the
Eastern Cape The Eastern Cape ( xh, eMpuma-Kapa, af, Oos-Kaap, st, Kapa Botjhabela) is one of the provinces of South Africa. Its capital is Bisho, but its two largest cities are East London, Eastern Cape, East London and Gqeberha. The second largest provinc ...
in South Africa, southeastern Australia, southeastern
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (, ; az, Azərbaycan ), officially the Republic of Azerbaijan ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikası ), is a country in the Transcaucasia, Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia, it is boun ...

Azerbaijan
, southeastern Turkey, far northern
Iraq Iraq ( ar, الْعِرَاق, translit=al-ʿIrāq; ku, عێراق, translit=Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq ( ar, جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق '; ku, کۆماری عێراق, translit=Komarî Êraq), is a country i ...

Iraq
, the
Mazandaran Province #REDIRECT Mazandaran Province#REDIRECT Mazandaran Province Mazandaran Province (, fa, استان مازندران ''Ostān-e Māzandarān)'' and ( mzn, مازرون ''Māzerun''), is an Iranian province located along the southern coast of the ...

Mazandaran Province
in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
,
Central Italy Central Italy ( it, Italia centrale or just ) is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula d ...
, parts of the
Balkans The Balkans ( ), also known as the Balkan Peninsula, are a geographic area in southeastern Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rathe ...

Balkans
(including
Northern Greece Northern Greece ( el, Βόρεια Ελλάδα, Voreia Ellada) is used to refer to the northern parts of Greece, and can have various definitions. Administrative term The term "Northern Greece" is widely used to refer mainly to the two northern ...
), as well as Northern and Western
Jordan Jordan ( ar, الأردن; tr. ' ), officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,; tr. ') is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In ge ...

Jordan
.


Vegetation

Vegetation types range from
forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

forest
s to
woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plu ...

woodland
s,
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest forming open habitats ...

savanna
s,
shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant species within a designated geographical unit, which forms a relatively uniform patch, distinguisha ...

shrubland
s, and
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
s; " mosaic habitat" landscapes are common, where differing vegetation types are interleaved with one another in complex patterns created by variations in soil, topography, exposure to wind and sun, and fire history. Much of the woody vegetation in Mediterranean-climate regions is sclerophyll, which means 'hard-leaved' in Greek. Sclerophyllous vegetation generally has small, dark leaves covered with a waxy outer layer to retain moisture in the dry summer months. Phytogeographers consider the
fynbos Fynbos (; meaning fine plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or Heath (habitat), heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. This area is predominantly coastal and mountainous, with a M ...

fynbos
(South Africa) as a separate floral kingdom because 68% of the 8,600 vascular plant species crowded into its are endemic and highly distinctive at several taxonomic levels. This is equivalent to about 40% of the plant species of the United States and
Canada Canada is a country in the northern part of North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, ...

Canada
combined, found within an area the size of the state of
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...

Maine
. The fynbos and Southwest Australia shrublands have flora that are significantly more diverse than the other ecoregions, although any Mediterranean shrubland is still rich in species and endemics relative to other non-forest ecoregions.


Biome plant groups

Major plant communities in this biome include: *
Forest A forest is an area of land dominated by tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a ...

Forest
: Mediterranean forests are generally composed of broadleaf trees, such as the oak and mixed
sclerophyll Sclerophyll is a type of vegetation that has hard leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , ...
forests of California and the Mediterranean region, the ''
Eucalyptus ''Eucalyptus'' () is a of over seven hundred species of s, shrubs or in the , Myrtaceae. Along with several other genera in the , including ', they are commonly known as s. Plants in the genus ''Eucalyptus'' have bark that is either smooth, ...

Eucalyptus
'' forests of Southwest Australia, and the ''
Nothofagus Beech trees in New Zealand ''Nothofagus'', also known as the southern beeches, is a genus of 43 species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a ...

Nothofagus
'' forests of central Chile. Forests are often found in
riparian A riparian zone or riparian area is the interface between land and a river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the grou ...
areas, where they receive more summer water.
Conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The division contains a single e ...
ous forests also occur, especially around the Mediterranean. Pine and deciduous oak forest are widespread across California. *
Woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum A ''plurale tantum'' (Latin for "plural only"; ) is a noun that appears only in the plural The plu ...

Woodland
: Oak woodlands are characteristic of the Mediterranean Basin and in California.
Pine A pine is any conifer Conifers are a group of conifer cone, cone-bearing Spermatophyte, seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the phylum, division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The div ...

Pine
woodlands are also present in the Mediterranean Basin. California additionally has
walnut A walnut is the Nut (fruit), nut of any tree of the genus ''Juglans'' (family Juglandaceae), particularly the Persian or English walnut, ''Juglans regia''. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is com ...

walnut
woodlands. *
Savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest forming open habitats ...

Savanna
and
grassland Grasslands are areas where the vegetation Vegetation is an assemblage of species and the they provide. It is a general term, without specific reference to particular , life forms, structure, extent, or any other specific or geographic ...

grassland
: The California Central Valley grasslands are the largest Mediterranean grassland eco-region, although these grasslands have mostly been converted to agriculture. The remaining woodlands feature mainly oak, walnut and pine. The cork oak savanna in Portugal, known as '' montado'', is a good example of a mediterranean savanna. *
Shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant species within a designated geographical unit, which forms a relatively uniform patch, distinguisha ...

Shrubland
: Shrublands are dense thickets of evergreen sclerophyll
shrubs A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the p ...

shrubs
and small trees. They are most common near the seacoast, and are often adapted to wind and salt air from the ocean. They are called
chaparral Chaparral ( ) is a shrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominance (ecology), dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, Herbaceous plant, herbs, and geophytes. Shrublan ...

chaparral
(California and ), ''
matorral image:Matorral Octubre.JPG, 300px, Springtime in Chilean matorral a few kilometers north of Santiago along the Pan-American Highway Matorral is a Spanish language, Spanish word, along with ''tomillares'', for shrubland, thicket or bushes. It is us ...
'' in Chile and southern Spain, ''
garrigue Garrigue or phrygana (n.pl., Greek Φρύγανα) is a type of low scrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant species within a d ...
'' or ''maquis'' in France, '''' or ''gariga'' in Italy, ''phrygana'' in Greece, ''tomillares'' in Spain, ''
fynbos Fynbos (; meaning fine plants) is a small belt of natural shrubland or Heath (habitat), heathland vegetation located in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. This area is predominantly coastal and mountainous, with a M ...

fynbos
'', ''
renosterveld Renosterveld is a term used for one of the major plant community, plant communities and vegetation types of the Cape Floristic Region (Cape Floral Kingdom) which is located in southwestern and southeastern South Africa, in southernmost Africa. It ...
'', ''
Succulent Karoo 300px, Map of the two WWF. Satellite image from NASA">World_Wide_Fund_for_Nature.html" ;"title="Karoo ecoregions as delineated by the World Wide Fund for Nature">WWF. Satellite image from NASA. The yellow line encloses the two ecoregions. The gr ...
'', and ''strandveld'' in South Africa, ''
kwongan Kwongan is plant community found in south-western Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a States and territories of Australia, state occupying the western percent of the land area of Australia excluding external territori ...
'' in Southwest Australia and ''batha'' in Israel.
Northern coastal scrub Northern coastal scrub is a scrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominance (ecology), dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, Herbaceous plant, herbs, and geophytes. Shr ...
and
coastal sage scrub Coastal sage scrub, also known as coastal scrub, CSS, or soft chaparral, is a low scrubland Shrubland, scrubland, scrub, brush, or bush is a plant community A plant community is a collection or Association (ecology), association of plant spec ...
, also known as soft chaparral, occur near the California coast. In some places shrublands are of the mature vegetation type, and in other places are the result of degradation of former forest or woodland by logging or
overgrazing Overgrazing occurs when plants are exposed to intensive grazing In agriculture Agriculture is the science, art and practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentism, sedentary hum ...

overgrazing
, or disturbance by major fires.


Fire as a medium of change

Fire, both natural and human-caused, has played a large role in shaping the ecology of Mediterranean
ecoregion An ecoregion (ecological region) or ecozone (ecological zone) is an ecologically Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including h ...
s. The hot, dry summers make much of the region prone to fires, and lightning-caused fires occur with some frequency. Many of the plants are
pyrophytePyrophytes are plants Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, throug ...
s, or fire-loving, adapted or even depending on fire for reproduction, recycling of nutrients, and the removal of dead or senescent vegetation. In both the Australian and Californian Mediterranean-climate eco-regions, native peoples used fire extensively to clear brush and trees, making way for the grasses and herbaceous vegetation that supported game animals and useful plants. The plant communities in these areas adapted to the frequent human-caused fires, and pyrophyte species grew more common and more fire-loving, while plants that were poorly adapted to fire retreated. After European colonization of these regions, fires were suppressed, which has caused some
unintended consequence In the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerly used to ...
s in these ecoregions; fuel builds up, so that when fires do come they are much more devastating, and some species dependent on fire for their reproduction are now threatened. The European shrublands have also been shaped by anthropogenic fire, historically associated with
transhumance Transhumance is a type of pastoralism or nomadism, a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions (''vertical transhumance''), it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and lower val ...

transhumance
herding of sheep and goats.


Degradation

Mediterranean ecoregions are some of the most endangered and vulnerable on the planet. Many have suffered tremendous degradation and habitat loss through logging, overgrazing, conversion to agriculture, urbanization,
fire suppression Wildfire suppression is a range of firefighting Firefighting is the act of attempting to prevent the spread of and extinguish significant unwanted fires in buildings, vehicles, woodlands, etc. A firefighter suppresses fires to protect lives, p ...
, and introduction of exotic and
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
. The ecoregions around the Mediterranean basin and in California have been particularly affected by degradation due to human activity, suffering extensive loss of forests and soil erosion, and many native plants and animals have become extinct or endangered.


See also

*
Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests The Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests is an terrestrial ecoregion, ecoregion in the lands around the Aegean Sea. The ecoregion covers most of mainland Greece, the Greek Aegean Islands (except for Crete Mediterranean forest ...
*
Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. The Food and Agricult ...
(CTFC) *
Food and Agriculture Organization The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...
(Silva mediterranea workgroup)


References


External links

* National Geographic Global 200 Ecoregions
Mediterranean Forest, Woodland and Scrub.
Part of National Geographic's Wild Worl

mapping project. {{DEFAULTSORT:Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Terrestrial biomes