Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests

The Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests is an ecoregion in the lands around the Aegean Sea. The ecoregion covers most of mainland Greece, the Greek Aegean Islands (except for Crete), the western coast of Turkey, the southern Vardar and Struma river valleys in North Macedonia, and the extreme south-western corner of Bulgaria.[2]

Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests
Cape Sounion AC.JPG
Landscape at Cape Sounion
Map of the ecoregion
BiomeMediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub
Area126,377 km2 (48,794 sq mi)
CountriesGreece, Turkey, North Macedonia and Bulgaria
Conservation statuscritical/endangered
Protected23,189 km² (18%)[1]

The ecoregion has a Mediterranean climate, and is in the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome.


The predominant plant communities are maquis, low shrublands, and pine forests.

Maquis is woody shrubland characterized by low trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants. Maquis species include strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) Arbutus andrachne, sweet bay (Laurus nobilis), olive (Olea europaea), carob (Ceratonia siliqua), Erica arborea, and Spartium junceum. Maquis includes many aromatic plants, particularly species in the mint family (Lamiaceae).[3]

Low shrublands, known in Greek as phrygana, are characterized by low aromatic shrubs and herbs, including Euphorbia acanthothamnos, Thymus capitatus, and species of Ballota, Cistus, Helichrysum, Phlomis, and Salvia. Phrygana is common on limestone (calcareous) soils, and in areas subject to frequent fires and heavy grazing.[4][5]

Kermes oak (Quercus coccifera) and holm oak (Quercus ilex) are found in maquis, and also form oak woodlands.

Forests of Turkish pine (Pinus brutia) occur in Anatolia, and forests of Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) are found in central Greece and the Peloponnese.

The oriental sweetgum (Liquidambar orientalis) is endemic to a limited area of southwestern Turkey and the island of Rhodes. The largest remaining stands are near Köyceğiz.


Mammals in the ecoregion include wild boar (Sus scrofa), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), golden jackal (Canis aureus), wolf (C. lupus), European badger (Meles meles), European hare (Lepus europaeus), northern white-breasted hedgehog (Erinaceus roumanicus), southern white-breasted hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), Eurasian red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), Caucasian squirrel (Sciurus anomalus), and pine marten (Martes martes). The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), European wildcat (Felis sylvestris), and brown bear (Ursus arctos) are now rare in the ecoregion.[3]

The ecoregion is important habitat for several limited-range bird species, including the eastern olivaceous warbler (Hippolais pallida), olive-tree warbler (Hippolais olivetorum), Rüppell's warbler (Curruca rueppelli), masked shrike (Lanius nubicus), cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea), and Cretzschmar's bunting (Emberiza caesia).[3]

Characteristic birds of the maquis include the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), rock partridge (A. graeca), chukar partridge (A. chukar), subalpine warbler (Sylvia cantillans), Rüppell's warbler, cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus), rock bunting (E. cia), and black-headed bunting (E. melanocephala).[3]

Krüper's nuthatch (Sitta krueperi) is associated with Turkish pine forests in the ecoregion and neighboring ones. Other birds of the pine forests include common European forest species like the Eurasian wren (Troglodytes troglodytes), common blackbird (Turdus merula), common chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), coal tit (Periparus ater), Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus), great tit (Parus major), short-toed treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla), Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius), and common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs).[3]

Birds associated with the liquidambar forests of western Anatolia include the common nightingale (Luscinia megarhyncos), olivaceous warbler, and Cetti's warbler (Cettia cetti).

Protected areasEdit

As of 2017, 23,189 km², or 18%, of the ecoregion was in protected areas.[1] Protected areas in Greece include Otea, Parnassus, Parnitha, and Sounion national parks. Protected areas in Turkey include Dilek Peninsula-Büyük Menderes Delta, Marmaris, and Spil Dağı national parks, and Köyceğiz-Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area.

External linksEdit

  • "Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.


  1. ^ a b Eric Dinerstein, David Olson, et al. (2017). An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm, BioScience, Volume 67, Issue 6, June 2017, Pages 534–545; Supplemental material 2 table S1b. [1]
  2. ^ "Ecoregions of Bulgaria". Retrieved 6 February 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e "Aegean and Western Turkey sclerophyllous and mixed forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  4. ^ Filippi, Olivier (2019). Bringing the Mediterranean into your Garden". Filbert Press, 2019.
  5. ^ "F7.3 Eastern Mediterranean spiny heath (phrygana)" European Red List of Habitats - Heathland Habitat Group, 05/01/2016.