Scholarly article on topic 'Effects of Topography and Climate on the Ecology of Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey'

Effects of Topography and Climate on the Ecology of Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey Academic research paper on "Earth and related environmental sciences"

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Abstract of research paper on Earth and related environmental sciences, author of scientific article — Ibrahim Atalay, Recep Efe, Münir Öztürk

Abstract The Taurus Mountains in the south of Turkey are an orogenic belt mainly lying in the west-east direction with western and central parts located on the Mediterranean coastline. The altitude of this mountainous chain exceeds 3000 meters at some places. This study was carried out in order to determine the ecological effects of the topographical and climatic factors on Taurus Mountains. The data on the area and the subject was surveyed, collected, analyzed, and classified in terms of the relevance to the topic and the area. A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the Taurus Mountains and its vicinity was created to determine the topographical conditions. 1/500.000 scaled maps were used to determine the geological features of the area. Data on geology, topography, and climate were compiled. Climatic data was provided by different meteorological stations and evaluated. The ecological conditions of the study area were also determined. A map; displaying the data obtained and the ecological conditions of the area; was produced. All fundamental data on topography was compared with ecological features in order to find out the interrelationships. Three distinct vegetation belts were detected. The aspect factor is important for the reception of solar radiation and wind, and for the prevention of the fronts. Slope inclination is the main factor for soil and parent material erosion.

Academic research paper on topic "Effects of Topography and Climate on the Ecology of Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 120 (2014) 142 - 156

The 3rd International Geography Symposium - GEOMED2013

Effects of topography and climate on the ecology of Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean region of Turkey

Ibrahim Atalaya, Recep Efeb*, Münir Öztürkc

a Department of Geography Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey b Department of Geography Balikesir University, Balikesir, Turkey c Ege University, Department of Botany, Izmir, Turkey

Abstract

The Taurus Mountains in the south of Turkey are an orogenic belt mainly lying in the west-east direction with western and central parts located on the Mediterranean coastline. The altitude of this mountainous chain exceeds 3000 meters at some places. This study was carried out in order to determine the ecological effects of the topographical and climatic factors on Taurus Mountains. The data on the area and the subject was surveyed, collected, analyzed, and classified in terms of the relevance to the topic and the area. A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the Taurus Mountains and its vicinity was created to determine the topographical conditions. 1/500.000 scaled maps were used to determine the geological features of the area. Data on geology, topography, and climate were compiled. Climatic data was provided by different meteorological stations and evaluated. The ecological conditions of the study area were also determined. A map; displaying the data obtained and the ecological conditions of the area; was produced. All fundamental data on topography was compared with ecological features in order to find out the interrelationships. Three distinct vegetation belts were detected. The aspect factor is important for the reception of solar radiation and wind, and for the prevention of the fronts. Slope inclination is the main factor for soil and parent material erosion.

©2013TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selectionandpeer-reviewunderresponsibilityoftheOrganizingCommitteeofGEOMED2013.

Keywords: Topography; ecology, Taurus Mountains; Mediterranean region

Corresponding author. Tel.: +90-532-247-4807; fax: none. E-mail address: recepefe@hotmail.com

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of GE0MED2013. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.02.091

1. Introduction

Taurus Mountains in the Mediterranean region of Turkey are mountainous areas deeply dissected by the rivers as compared to other mountainous areas of Turkey. This situation is considerably responsible for the plant distribution and productivity of forests. Deeply dissected and high topography contains much more plants than low and flat topography. The rugged topography with many habitats supports the growth of a large number of plants belonging to different phytogeographical regions. On the other hand, altitudes above 2000 m contribute three vertical zonation of vegetation known as oro-vegetation belts. Aspect factor especially north and south slopes of the mountains and valleys in the same region are covered by different vegetation communities depending on solar radiation received. The direction of mountain ranges forms a barrier to the moving of winds and fronts and their slope prevents the fronts therefore getting much more precipitation than backward side. The wide and deep valley extending in a parallel direction of dominant winds contributes to the movement through the internal side of the mountains. The mountains also produce fohn winds in the lowlands. Exposed parent materials and/or rocks as a result of erosion considerably determine the distribution of vegetation and productivity.

In this study the topographic effects on the site index or productivity of forest stands in the Taurus Mountains is discussed because karstic lands containing special topographic forms have importance in terms of ecological conditions. Attempts have been made to enlighten the importance of present topographic formations in the ecology of Taurus Mountains, geomorphological evaluation of the areahas also been summarized.

25°E 30°E 35°E 40°E 45°E

26°E 28°E 30°E 32°E 34°E 36°E 38°E

Fig. 1. The location of the study area.

2. Method and Materials

The observations included in this study cover the period between 1970-2013. The ecological studies on cedar (Cedrus libani), red pine (Pinus brutia) and black pine (Pinus nigra), together with soil surveys form the main data of this investigation which covers the study area located in the Mediterranean Region of Turkey. The maps of mean annual temperature and precipitation are presented so as to stress the importance of topography in the distribution of temperature and precipitation. During the field observations the relationships among parent materials (rocks), topographic features such as altitude, aspects and climatic data were taken into consideration to find out the

distribution of vegetation and forest site index. In order to show topographic effects on the ecology of Taurus Mountains the vegetation distribution was overlapped on topographic profiles.

3. Observations and Discussion

3.1. Geomorphological Evolution of Taurus Mountains

Taurus Mountains are one of the main ranges of Alpine Mountains extending in the southern part of Anatolia which rise abruptly from the Mediterranean Sea upto an altitude of 3700 meters, containing almost all rocks belonging to all geological eras.

Palaeozoic: These rocks are mainly associated with schists and limestones, occurring on the southern parts of the Ta^eli Plateau in the north of Anamur. Crystallized Palaeozoic limestons occupy the most part of the Bolkar and Ala mountains in the NE of Taurus, and northern part of Nur Mountains in the east of Taurus.

Mesozoic: The present-day Taurus Mountain range was occupied by Tethys Ocean in which mostly limestone material accumulated on the oceanic crust composed of peridotite-serpantine during the Mesozoic. It started uplifting due to the subduction of Africa plates trough the Mediterranean basin. Toward the end of Mesozoic almost all parts of the Taurus Mountain areas emerged from the sea and karstification process commenced to develop (Atalay 2008).

Tertiary: This can be termed as the fundamental period for shaping of the present-day topography. During the Oligocene the paroxysm phase of the Alpine orogenic movements occurred, in pre-Oligocene mostly submerged outcrops were subjected to folding and some limestone was crystallized and some ports of the oceanic crust dissected and uplifted. During the Miocene, most part of the Taurus Mountains was subjected to vertical tectonic movements called post-Alpine movements, like many part of Anatolia. As a result of these vertical movements, tectonic grabens were formed along the fault zones and most of these were occupied by the shallow sea and lake. Indeed, the grabens such as Bucak, Beysehir-Seydisehir and Acipayam etc. were occupied by the lakes in the western part of the Taurus Mountains. During Miocene the middle part of the Taurus Mountains was occupied by the Mediterranean Sea in which calcareous materials were deposited due to the subsidence events (Atalay 1987a, 1987b, 1988,; Atalay et al., 2008, Efe 2010).

Towards the end of the Tertiary period, the Taurus Mountain range had been completely uplifted resulting in the increase of karstification because the base level of the karstic land lowered. Thus water draining of the uplifted areas began to dissolve limestone along the crack system and fault lines (Fig. 2). The ground water system and caves began developing. Main poljes were formed, especially along the weak zone fitting fault lines. Main poljes appearing within the grabens such as Bucak, Seki, Elmali, £eltikci Sugla have thus formed (Aygen 1984, Guldali 1970, 1973, 1976, Guldali andNazik 1984).

During the Quaternary period, the uplifting of Taurus Mountain continued, it was occupied by glaciers above 2000 m elevations in the Last Glacial Period which occurred in 18-20 K BP.

3.2. Topographic Features 3.2.1. Altitude

The Taurus Mountains begin in the southwest of Anatolia (Teke Peninsula) and continue along the Mediterranean coast generally in the E-W direction. The part in the Mediterranean region is called Western and Middle Taurus. The Western parts are dissected by the vertical tectonic movements providing tectonic graben extending in SE-NW direction. The summits above 3000 m occur in the western Taurus and the eastern part of the Middle Taurus. The mountains with highest summits are Ak 3024 m, Tahtali in Ak mountain range 2375 m, Kohu 2540 m, Katrancik 2324 m in the Western Taurus; Yildiz 3134 m, Medetsiz 3524 m in the Bolkar Mountains, Karanfil 3059 m, 3461 m and 3756 m in the Ala Mountains in the eastern part of Taurus Mountains. It can be said that between the Mediterranean coast and upper parts of Taurus Mountains the relative altitude lies around at least 2000 m. The relative altitude between the depressions and their encircling highlands in general is at least 500 m. For example relative altitude in the Elmali depression is nearly 1500 m.

3.2.2. Climate

The study area experiences typical Mediterranean climate characterized by rainy and mild winters and rainless and hot summers, but topographic features especially altitude and aspect create micro and local climates in the study area (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. Climate types of Turkey (Atalay 2012).

Precipitation: The mean annual precipitation changes between 380 mm and 2100 mm depending mainly on the topographic characteristics (Fig. 3). Southeast facing slopes of Antalya Gulf receive more rain (Aydinkent 2127 mm, Beçkonak 1796 mm, Akseki 1350 mm), but at the Buk-Lutfi Yildirim Forest Research station at an elevation of 460 m, 20 km NW of Antalya yearly rainfall is 467 mm. Mean annual precipitation is less than 500 mm in the rainshadow areas encircled by highlands and backward depressions of Taurus Mountains. For example, annual precipitation drops below 400 mm, in some years as low as 200 mm in Mut basin, central part of Taurus Mountains.

Altitude is responsible for the increase of precipitation, as well as vertical zonation of vegetation and soil forming process. Therefore an abrupt rising of Taurus Mountains from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea cause increases humidity. The fronts coming from the Mediterranean Sea during the rainy period between October and April are generally prevented by Taurus Mountains. This is the main reason for increase of precipitation on the slopes facing south. Indeed total annual rainfall is over 1000 mm in the coastal area and on the south facing slopes it increases 100 mm per 100 m increase of altitude between Manavgat and Beçkonak towns, in the NE of Gulf of Antalya.

There is general air circulation from the Mediterranean Sea towards Taurus Mountains during the summer season. The humid air mass rising from the southern slopes of Taurus Mountains is the main reason of fog and orographic rain formation and increase of relative humidity of air masses (Fig. 4, 5). Another local condition prevails between Gulf of Iskenderun and Antakya-Kahramanmaras tectonic graben in the eastern part of Mediterranean region. Here the air masses coming from the Gulf of Iskenderun lead to the fog and orographic rain on the slopes faces Gulf of Iskenderun (Fig.l3a, 13b). Relative humidity is higher during the vegetation period and in winter. This is responsible for the decrease of évapotranspiration on the south facing slopes of Taurus Mountains. Toward the backward parts of Mediterranean region, aridity increases due to the continental effects, especially with the decrease of precipitation and relative humidity (Fig. 5).

Fig. 3. Mean annual precipitation distribution of Turkey.

Fig. 4. The formation of fog and orographic rain on the southern slopes of Taurus Mountains with the rise of air masses coming from the Mediterranean.

Temperature: Mean annual temperature is nearly 20°C in the coastal land but decreases as low as under 3°C in the upper part of the Bolkar and Ala mountains in the east. January temperature is in the coastal areas but under freezing point at an elevation of 1500 m. The July temperature between the coast of Mediterranean Sea and the upper part varies between 24°C and 15-16°C (Fig. 6).

The existence of three altitudinal vegetation belts in Taurus Mountains is mainly with respect to the altitude that changes precipitation and temperature.

3.3. Soil andparent material

The climatic soil type of study area is reddish Mediterranean soil (Alfisol ordo, xeralf subordo) on the flat and karstic land. In the backward depressions which face semiarid climate condition chestnut soil containing carbonate

accumulation in subsoil appears. Remaining areas are covered by intrazonal soils (Entisols and Inceptisols) reflecting the physical and chemical properties of parent materials due to erosion.

Fig. 5. Distribution of relative humidity in July

Fig. 6. Mean annual temperature distribution in Turkey.

3.4. Vegetation

Vegetation distribution notably forests and their vegetation composition changes depending on altitude, aspect factors which determine the temperature and precipitation distribution. The altitudinal belts of vegetation are as follow:

3.4.1. Eu-Mediterranean belt (0-1200 mj

This belt; in which typical Mediterranean climate prevails; is characterized by mild and rainy winters and hot and rainless summers; is the native area of distribution of Mediterranean vegetation. Ecologically Pinus brutia; climax tree of Mediterranean climatic region, is very resistant to summer drought, but productivity is good in the areas which receive abundant precipitation and ground water level is high. It prefers sunny and/or areas receiving direct solar radiation, for this reason Pinus brutia forests rises as high as 1500 m on the south facing slopes of Taurus Mountains. Its seeds germinate only on the mineral soils in the open sunny places. The naturally occurring maquis formations occur as an understory of Pinus brutia forests. Productive forests are observed in the areas which receive rain in summer, in the northeastern part of Qukurova (Cicilian plain), Andirin district (Atalay et al., 1998). Biomass productivity and the physiognomic features of Pinus brutia are determined by the physical and chemical characteristics of parent materials, and temperature, the amount of precipitation and ground water level. The biomass productivity is too low in exposed peridotite-serpentine parent material. For example, red pine stands occurring on low and unweathered serpentine-peridotite parent material in the Datfa Peninsula, also at some places of coastal areas between Antalya and Kumluca, W of Antalya Gulf and in the vicinity of Koycegiz lake are in shrubby form. Productive Pinus brutia stands occur between 400-800 m based on the decrease of night temperature which leads to a decrease of transpiration as compared to the coastal area. In addition to this well weathered schists containing rich plant nutriments create suitable habitat for the growth of trees.

Maquis vegetation naturally growing in the understory of red pine forest is widespread where red pine forests were destroyed in the coastal belt of Mediterranean Region (Atalay 1994; Ozturk et al., 1983; 2008, 2002; Ozturk 1995; (Fig.15). But the arid part of the Mut basin is the maquis and garrique vegetation distribution areas (Sakcali and Ozturk 2003).

3.4.2. Oro-Mediterranean Belt

The existence of oro-mediterranean forest belt is related to high altitude of Taurus Mountains. This belt is the main spreading area for coniferous forests composed of cedar (Cedrus libani), black pine {Pinus nigra) and fir (Abies cilicica), which grow under the cold-subhumid conditions. Local ecological conditions determine the purity and spreading areas of such trees (Fig. 7, 9).

Fig. 7. General vegetation belts in Mediterranean Region

Pinus nigra forests grow in the transitional region between maritime and continental climate. Therefore such forests are observed between 1200 and 2400 m in the upland area of Taurus Mountains and in the backward part of Mediterranean region, including Lakes Subregion, NW part of the Mediterranean geographical region. Pure and good Pinus nigra stands occur around Lake Beyjehir, Lake Egirdir, and Sogut plateau extending between Antalya-Gazipasa and in the eastern part of Taurus Mountains (Karsanti district) on which somewhat continental effects

prevail (Atalay and Efe 2010) (Fig.18, 20). They grow very well on the soft parent materials such as flysch and colluvial deposits and are often associated with Cedrus libani and Abies cilicica in the Taurus Mountains.

Abies cilicica grows very well on the diffused places with low radiation on the north facing slopes and foggy area, as well as among Pinus nigra and Cedrus libani trees. These forests mainly occur between 1150-2000 m on the slopes facing north, and pure stands occur only on the north facing slopes and in foggy areas. The optimum growth areas are generally widespread between 1200-1800 m. Pure and productive Abies cilicica forests occur in Camliyayla locality, N of Adana, while poor one is common on the southern slopes of Tahtali mountain, between Inner Anatolia and Mediterranean region (Fig.9, Fig.19). Abies cilicica forests are also widespread between 1300 and 1500 m on the foggy areas ofNur (Amanos) mountains, east of Iskenderun Gulf (Fig.20). A pure stand occurs on the south facing slopes also which indicates complete destruction of Pinus nigra and Cedrus libani areas (Fig. 913).

4. , A „ . . .A Abies A Cedrus a Juni. A Quercus Subalpine

P. brut,a ^ P. nigra ^ Maqu.s ci|icica ^ libani ^ perusspy sp. nU gra55K

Fig. 8. The distribution of trees related to topography on the east coast of Antalya Gulf. Cedar, fir mixed forest is common in the foggy area of Tahtali Mountain.

>, Bolkar M.

Fig. 9. The profile showing the importance of altitude, aspect and continentality in the distribution of vegetation between Mersin and Ulukijla, southern part of Inner Anatolia. The existence of pure and productive Abies cilicica depends on the fog received by Taurus Mountains.

Climatically, Cedrus libani grows under cool and subhumid conditions which prevail during vegetation period, and mean annual temperature changes between 6°C and 8°C, mean annual precipitation is higher than 600 mm in the native occurrence areas, and it prefers snowy areas on which seeds begin to germinate. Cedar forests as mixed and pure stands, are common between 800-2000 m in the vertical direction in the southern parts between 1400 and 2100

m of Taurus Mountains, and 1800-2000 m in the upland part of Nur Mountains. The cedar stands descend as low as 500-550 m in the eastern part of Nur Mountains, W of Maras-Antakya graben (Atalay 1987b, Boydak 1988, Boydak et al., 2008). It can be clearly said that cedar avoids the extreme maritime as well as continental areas of Anatolia. The optimum growing areas of cedar is therefore common on the north slopes of Teke Peninsula which is located in the transitional region to be termed zonoecotone extending between Mediterranean and Inner Anatolia (Atalay 2002; Fig. 7, 10, 12).

C. libani grows on the humid places under the impact of winds coming from both Mediterranean Sea and Etesian winds coming from the north in the backward part of Mediterranean region. Best growing area occurs in the Qiglikara and Dokuz Gol locality on the north slope of Mountain in the S of Elmali depression. Here first site class cedar forest appears. There is a monumental cedar tree named K05 (Ram) cedar aged 900 years, 38 m in height and 2 m in diameter at an elevation of 1550 m (Fig. 17).

Fig. 10. The distribution of vegetation between Esen valley near Mediterranean Sea and Golhisar inner part of of Teke Peninsula. Here the dominance of Pinus nigra on the southern facing slopes of Golhisar depression and existence of Cedrus libani on the upland areas shows the ecological preference of such trees in accordance with the topographical conditions.

^ P. brutia ^ P. nigra ^ Maquis ^ ¡j^9 ^ cSpfnus3^""' f Quercus SP'

Fig. 11. The vegetation profile of Nur Mountains lying between Dortyol city, in Iskenderun Gulf, Mediterranean Sea and Antakya-Kahramanmara? graben.

Cedar grows on all parent materials namely marly deposit, schist, quartzite, and limestones belonging to Tertiary, Mesozoic and Paleozoic eras. The pure Cedrus libani stands only occur on the slopes facing north in the Taurus Mountains, but productive cedar only grows on the karstic lands in the Taurus Mountains (Atalay 2008, Efe 2010).

The west facing slopes of Nur Mountains form a distinct habitat because there is a general air flow from Gulf of Iskenderun to Antakya - Kahramanmara§ depression. The rising humid and hot air masses coming from Gulf of Iskenderun on the west facing slopes lead to the formation of fog and orographic rain, which supports the growth of broad leaved forests composed of Fagus orientalis, species of Alnus, Acer, Castanea, and Carpinus etc. and some hydrophytic shrubs like Cornus mas, Corylus avellana, Buxus sempervirens and so on (Gucel et al.,2008) (Fig. 11, 21).

Juniper (Juniperus excelsa, J. foetidissima) forests are common on the Taurus Mountains in places where coniferous forests, composed of cedar and black pine, have been entirely cleared. We can say that juniper communities can be taken into consideration as a regressive and/or secondary succession group. Indeed the seeds originating from the excrements of the birds easily germinate in the destroyed coniferous forest areas. In the higher part of the forest belt Juniperus communis ssp. nana occurs. On the other hand, juniper communities are also common towards the inland part of the Taurus Mountains.

Oak (Quercus libani, Q. infectoria, Q. cerris) forests are mainly occur on transitional belt between Eu (thermo) and Oro-Mediterranean belt and extend as a belt at an altitude of 800-1200 m, and are common in the western and eastern parts of the Taurus. The common species of the oak forests are Quercus libani, Q. frainetto, Q. cerris and Q. infectoria.

Toward the inland parts of Taurus Mountains vegetation composition is subject to change as compared to the southern part of Mediterranean Region. In these areas Pinus nigra and Quercus forests tend to form dominant vegetation. In the eastern inside and NW part of Taurus Mountains, for example, Pinus nigra forests cover the highlands (Fig. 10,12).

Tahtati Montain

Fig. 12. Vegetation profile in the NE inland part of Mediterranean region. As it is shown black pine is widespread and rises up to 2400 m in the inland section of Taurus on which a somewhat continental effects prevails.

Topographical conditions notably canyon valley and deep karstic depression provide a refuge area for the growth of past vegetation together with some hydrophytic vegetation. For this reason, it is possible to find relicts of the Euro-Siberian phytogeographical realm in the karstic depressions of Dedegol and Davraz Mountains and the western slopes of the Nur Mountains (Atalay 1987a). For instance, Quercus vulcanica which is an endemic and relict species for Taurus Mountains grows only within the karstic depression such as dolines in the Dedegol and Davraz mountains (Fig.16). In this habitat a group of humid trees and shrubs belonging to Euro-Siberian elements such as Sorbus torminalis, Tilia rubra, Fraxinus excelsior, Ulmus glabra, and Ostrya carpinifolia occur. The canyon valleys called Cocak and Cehennem in the upper tributaries of Berdan river flowing into Mediterranean Sea contain many different forms of vegetation.

Fig. 13a and 13b. The slopes facing Mediterranean Sea of Taurus Mountains are generally covered by fog-clouds due to the rising humid air mass coming from Mediterranean Sea.

Fig. 14 Pinus brutia, P. nigra, Abies cilicica, Cedrus libani, Juniperus excelsa, J.foetidissima are observed together in the Cehennem Canyon valley that cut by Kadincik river flowing into Mediterranean Sea, E of Mediterranean Region.

Fig. 15. Canyon valley of Cocak stream the upper basin of Kadincik River. Cedrus libani, Pinus nigra, Pinus brutia and shrubs (Phillyrea latifolia, Arbutus andrachne, A.unedo, Mrytus communis, Laurus nobilis, and Platanus orientalis are species growing high to get direct light.

Fig. 16. Quercus vulcanica, an endemic oak species mostly grows in the karstic depressions of Dedegol SW of Lake Egirdir and Barla Mountains W of Lake Beyjehir in the W of Taurus Mountains.

Fig. 17. Pure and productive cedar forest on the north facing slopes of mountain in the SW of Elmali depression. Here monument cedar named Koç (Ram) cedar is 38 m tall with 2 m diameter and 677 years old at an elevation of 1550 m.

Fig. 20. Productive Pinus nigra forest which is common on the north facing slope of Dedegöl Mountains, W of Lake Beyjehir.

Fig. 19. Pure and productive Abies cilicica forest grows under foggy condition in Camliyayla locality, N of Mersin city.

Fig. 21. Fagus orientalis forest common in the foggy area in the north of Andirm, Eastern Mediterranean Region.

In these valley besides Pinus brutia, Cedrus libani, Abies cilicica and Pinus nigra, a humid Mediterranean maquis vegetation occur with species like Styrax officinalis, Arbutus andrachne, A. unedo, Mrytus communis, Vitex agnus castus, Nerium oleander, and humid-mild species like Taxus baccata, Corylus avellana, Cornus mass, Platanus orientalis, Alnus glutinosa, Sorbus torminalis, Buxus sempervirens, Celtis australis, Cotinus sp.

3.4.3. Subalpine herbaceous vegetation belt

This belt begins after the natural timberline and goes on to the upper part of the summit of Taurus Mountains. In the karstic land this belt occurs as a rocky land with very sparse herbaceous species, but grass lands are dominant on the karstic depressions with thick soil, and schists with water holding capacity are high.

Altitude also determines soil formation and its chemical and organic content (Ozkan et al., 2008). Reddish Mediterranean soil dominant in the Eu-Mediterranean zone, changes into dark reddish Mediterranean soil due to accumulation of organic material accumulation. In the subalpine zone one can see shallow high mountain grass soils showing weak acid reaction and rich organic content.

3.5. Aspect factor

The direction of south and north slopes of mountains and valleys is important in terms of the solar radiation intensity. As a general rule in the Mediterranean region, humidity is higher on the south slopes than northern slopes in the southern part of the Taurus Mountain, because southern slopes are rainy, receiving direct radiation and humid

air masses coming from Mediterranean Sea. In the backward part of Mediterranean region northern upslopes form a humid habitat due to low direct radiation and humid winds blowing from the northern sectors. For this reason a somewhat humid forest occurs on the northern slopes. Best examples can be given from Elmali depression, where north facing slopes have pure and productive cedar forests (Fig.17), whereas southern slopes are the main distributional areas ofjuniper and oak communities (Fig. 9, 12).

Southern slopes of the backward or southern part of Mediterranean Region is the native occurrence area of dry forests composed of Pinus nigra and the species of Quercus and Juniperus.

4. The importance of Karstic land in the ecology of Mediterranean Region

Karstic lands in Taurus mountainous areas contribute to the increase of biological richness because they contain many local and micro habitats. The bottom of valley with damp and thick soil cover supports the growth of hydrophytic vegetation. Karstic lands especially depressions are also the refuge areas of some endemic and relict plants and their communities. For example, Quercus vulcanica which is an endemic oak species and Sambucus nigra, Taxus baccata, Corylus avellana, Cornus mas, Buxus sempervirens etc. which are the relict species growing inside the dolines in the Davras and Dedegol Mountains in the western part of the Taurus Mountains. Since doline walls give a protection from the wind, thick soil cover in the doline form a favourable habitat for the growth of some hydrophytic species like Sambucus ebulus, S. nigra, Tilia rubra, Acer campestre and Q. vulcanica (Fig. 16).

The canyon valley in the Taurus is of special importance in terms of topography and vegetation richness. Indeed some humid maquis elements such as Nerium oleander, Mrytus communis, Laurus nobilis, Vitex agnus castus, Alnus glutinosa, Platanus orientalis, Salix sp. are common in this area. The best example is given from Cocak and Cehennem valleys which are the upper tributaries of Berdan river flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.

5. Conclusions

Topographic features such as altitude, aspect, slope inclination and landform etc. of the study area considerably determine the distribution of precipitation, temperature and plant communities and biomass productivity. In Taurus Mountains; rising up to 3700 m; the dissection by the rivers for more than 1000 m is mainly related to the vertical tectonic movements which occurred during Neotectonic period known as post alpine movements. The high altitude and aspect of valley slopes and depressions and rugged karstic landforms create micro and local habitats in terms of ecological conditions. The altitude rising above 3000 m in the Taurus Mountains leads to three altitudinal vegetation belts: a) 0-1200 m Pinus brutia forest zone, b) 800/2000 m oro-mediterranean zone, c) Upper part of mountains more than 2000 m is subalpine herbaceous zone and shallow soil type. Aspect factor is important to receive solar radiation and wind, and to prevent the fronts. The southern slopes of Taurus are the rainy areas due to the fronts coming from the Mediterranean. The depressions such as Mut, Elmali, Burdur and Acigol etc. are located in the rain shadow areas. Slope inclination is the main factor for soil and parent material erosion here. The areas with forests destroyed on the soft marly, low cemented sandy materials have been subjected to gully erosion. The uplifting of Taurus Mountains as a whole has caused rejuvenation of fluvial erosion so that deep valleys attain a relative altitude of more than 1000 m. The karstic depression and canyon valley form distinct habitats and allow growth of some endemic and relict species and biological richness on such areas is higher than other areas. Karstic lands create suitable condition for the trees and are covered by dense forests in the undisturbed areas. The seed germination successfully occurs in the cracks containing soil which enhances the regeneration process.

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