Oct 6

Explore our new eco-region pages, which highlight the fantastic biodiversity of the Mediterranean Basin. Uniquely located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa, the Mediterranean Basin is one of the most biologically rich regions on Earth. Home to almost 12,000 species that are found nowhere else in the world, the Mediterranean Basin is considered to be one of the planet’s biodiversity ‘hotspots’.

Featuring some of the fantastic species and stunning habitats found in the Mediterranean Basin, ARKive’s newest eco-region pages are supported by the MAVA Foundation, to help raise awareness about the biodiversity of the eco-region and the need for its protection and conservation.

Scrub vegetation image

Scrub vegetation in the Corsican mountains in France

Mediterranean climate

The Mediterranean Basin has a ‘Mediterranean climate’, a distinct, subtropical climate shared by five regions around the world, of which the Mediterranean Basin is the largest. This climate is typified by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.

This eco-region is home to a remarkable variety of habitats, including pine forests, mountain ranges, floristically spectacular scrublands and stretches of dramatic coastline. It also boasts the world’s largest inland sea, the Mediterranean Sea.

Coastal mountains in France image

Coastal mountains in France, Mediterranean Basin

Amazing animals

The Mediterranean Basin is home to around 220 mammal species, an impressive 11% of which are endemic to the region. One of the rarest and most charismatic species, the Critically Endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), breeds in secluded sea caves throughout the Mediterranean Basin.

Mediterranean monk seal image

Male Mediterranean monk seal

Some of the other distinctive mammals of the region include Europe’s only species of primate, the Barbary macaque (Macaca sylvanus), and the world’s most threatened species of cat, the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus).

Iberian lynx image

Iberian lynx

Barbary macaque image

Barbary macaque

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well as providing a migration route for some two billion birds each year, the Mediterranean Basin is also a permanent home to around 500 species of bird, including the magnificent Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti), the Raso lark (Alauda razae) and the Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)

Spanish imperial eagle image

Spanish imperial eagle

The array of amphibians and reptiles found in the Mediterranean Basin is no less impressive, with 64% of amphibian and 48% of reptile species being found nowhere else in the world. Fascinating examples of the Mediterranean Basin’s amphibian diversity include the Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) and the cave salamander (Proteus anguinus).

Mallrocan midwife toad image

Mallrocan midwife toad

Cave salamander image

Cave salamander

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fantastic plants

The Mediterranean Basin is particularly noted for its spectacular array of endemic plants, with 52% of the 22,500 plant species found exclusively in the Mediterranean region. Perhaps the most iconic inhabitant of the region is the olive tree (Olea europaea).

Olive tree image

Olive trees

One of the most characteristic vegetation types of the Mediterranean Basin is the floristically rich scrubland, which produces fantastic floral displays every spring. The Mediterranean Basin also has diverse forested areas, where an incredible 201 of the 290 tree species are endemic.

Mediterranean Basin scrubland image

Floral display of Mediterranean Basin scrubland

 

The future of the Mediterranean Basin

Currently home to around 455 million people, the Mediterranean region is also visited by an additional 246 million tourists every year. The pressure from this volume of people is causing severe degradation of the Mediterranean’s natural environment.

Current threats to the region’s biodiversity include deforestation, intensive agricultural practices, fires, pollution, invasive species and climate change. With only 5% of original, unaltered habitat remaining, it is essential we conserve what is left of this unique and highly diverse region.

Visit our Mediterranean Basin pages to learn more about this stunning eco-region!

Becky Moran, ARKive Species Text Author