Turkey’s flora

Turkey as a Gene Center

Anatolia is one of the foremost world sources of plants which have been cultivated for food, and the wild ancestors of many plants which now provide staples for mankind still grow here.

Wild forms develop defense mechanisms against predators, extremes of temperature, flooding, frost and drought. Moreover, they are resistant to the diseases so prevalent among cultivated plants. In addition, they preserve the taste, fragrance, color, hardness and other original characteristics which tend to be lost in the course of cultivation. Today thanks to strides made in biotechnology it is possible to transmit useful qualities of this kind to their cultivars. Moreover, wild forms are a fundamental reference source for the development of new cultivars. To put it metaphorically, wild forms of cultivated species are like the national archive of a country, or the core memory of a computer.

According to the principal international organizations active in wildlife research and conservation-the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (I-UCN), the International Plant Genetic Resource Institute (IPGRI) and the World Wildlife Found, there are four gene centers in the world for cultivated plants used in agriculture. Two of these are in the American continent and two in Asia. In America, Mexico is the gene centre for maize and tomatoes, and Peru for potatoes and beans, while in Asia China is the gene centre for rice and millet, and the region of southwest Asia covering most of Turkey and parts of Iran, Iraq. Syria and Azerbaijan for wheat and barley. The most important of these strategic agricultural plants is undoubtedly wheat, of which over thirty wild species still grow in Turkey. The transmission of a disease-resistant gene from a wild wheat form in Turkey to the American cultivar has meant a saving of 50 million dollars a year for the US economy alone.

Turkey is also the home of many other cultivated plants, such as chickpeas, lentils, apricots, almonds, figs, hazelnuts, cherries and sour cherries. Their origin is recorded in the Latin names for some of these species, such as Ficus caria, meaning “fig of Caria”. Caria was an archaic civilization of Anatolia in the southern Aegean region. Similarly the cherry’s scientific name Cerasus comes from the ancient name of its place of origin, today the province of Giresun on Turkey’sBlack Sea coast.

Off the large number of ornamental flowers cultivated from Turkish wild forms, we can cite the tulip, crocus, snowdrop, lily and fritillary.

As the flora, Turkey is divided into 3 main division and 5 subdivisions, these are;

I) Euro-Siberian Flora Area
a) Kolsik Provence: includes central and western parts of the Black Sea Region and some of Marmara Region.
b) Oksin Provence: includes eastern part of the Black Sea Region.

II) Mediterranean Flora Area
a) Western Anatolia: includes Thrace, southern part of Marmara Region and Aegean Region.
b) Taurus Mountains
c) Amanos Mountains

III) Irano-Tranian Flora Area
includes the rest of the country

Turkey’s Fauna

The diversity of fauna in Turkey is even greater than that of wild plants. While the number of species throughout Europe as a whole is around 60,000, in Turkey they number over 80,000. If subspecies are also counted, then this number rises to over a hundred thousand.

As in the case of plants, Anatolia is the original homeland of several species. For instance, the fallow deer now common in Europe was introduced from Turkey in the 17th century. This species comes from the foothills of the Taurus Mountains between Antalya and Adana. Another example is the pheasant which comes from Samsun onTurkey’s Black Sea coast. The scientific name of this beautiful bird is Phasianus colchicus, “Phasianus” being the ancient name for the Kizilirmak river, and “colchicus” deriving from Colhia, an ancient kingdom which stretched along the Black Sea coast to the Caucasus. The domestic sheep is a descendant of the wild sheep, Ovis musimon anatolica, which as the scientific name indicates was a native of Anatolia. Few people are aware that the Anatolia leopard is one of the largest of these graceful cats, and that it was the species used in gladiator fights by the Romans constructed as traps for these creatures can still be seen scattered in the Taurus Mountains, and are known locally as tiger-traps. Indeed, the tiger is another creature whose original homeland was Anatolia, a little known fact reflected in the name tiger itself , which comes from the Latin name Felis Tigris, or Tigris cat after the Tigris river. The lions which survive only in Hittite statues today were once another member of the Anatolianfauna.

Birds have taken advantage of Turkey’s strategic position as a bridge connecting Europe to Asia and Africa for thousands of years. Two of the four main migration routes in the bio-geographic region known as the year, in spring and autumn. In spring migratory birds fly northwards from Africa to Asia and Europe, and in autumn they leave their breeding grounds to fly south to Africa again. One of these migration routes leads south from Hopa in northeast Turkey along the Çoruh river valley into Eastern Anatolia, passing through Kahramanmaras and Antakya inSoutheast Turkey. Most of the birds which take this route through the Çoruh River valley are birds of prey, and at around 250,000 they from the largest migratory group of birds of prey in the world. However, the most spectacular migration in the world is the flight of storks down theBosphorus in Istanbul in spring and autumn. Over a quarter million storks fly in clouds over the city in the course of a few weeks. Some species of birds of prey also migrate along the Bosphorus, a waterway which is not only migratory route for birds but also for fish making their way between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea. It is this phenomenon which results in unusually high catches, delighting fishermen and their customers alike.

Despite the fact that Turkey is an ancient land, crossed, exploited and sought over by a succession of peoples for millennia, there are still many areas which have remained virtually untouched, enabling many rare species of wildlife which have become endangered or extinct elsewhere to maintain viable colonies here. Turkey’s Aegeanand Mediterranean shores provide a refuge for monk seals and loggerhead turtles, while is wetlands house colonies of numerous endangered species, such as the Dalmatian pelican, pygmy cormorant and the slender billed curlew, as well as flamingoes, wild ducks and geese.

Under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment a program is underway to project the last surviving colonies of monk seal along Turkey’s Mediterranean and Aegeancoasts, and in addition an international project is being conducted within the framework of the Bern and Barcelona conventions. Apart from a small colony of monk seals on the shores of the Western Sahara on the Atlantic Ocean, the only remaining colonies of this species are the eastern Mediterranean, the species having been wiped out in the western areas. The fact that the species has survived along Turkey’s shores is due to the preservation of the natural environment in many areas and low pollution levels. Further evidence that environmental conservation along Turkey’s coast is succeeding is the continued existence of pine forest and long un-spoilt beaches despite extensive construction in recent years. Seals are seen to a lesser extent in the Marmara and Black Sea, but they are most common around Foça, near Izmir, on theAegean coast, a town whose name derives from the ancient Phoenician for seal. A local Seal Committee has beer set up in the town, followed by another at Yalikavak nearBodrum further to the south.

The total number of monk seals in the world is between 300-400, fifty of which live in Turkish waters.

Other endangered species include turtles which lay their eggs in the long sandy beaches of the Mediterranean. Two species breed in Turkey, where efforts to protect them have been extremely successful. A tourism development project at Köycegiz has been scrapped to preserve the breeding grounds of Caretta Caretta, and the lake and marshes of Köycegiz declared an Specially Protected Area. These measures were received with a standing ovation by the Standing Committee of Bern Convention of the Council of Europe in 1989, and cited as an example for other countries to follow. Studies of the turtles along all Turkey’s shores have been launched, and seventeen sand beaches of foremost importance as breeding grounds for turtles are kept under constant observation by the Turtle Preservation Committee. The Ministry of the Environment’s Authority of Specially Protected Areas is in charge of protecting the Belek area, and the Ministry of Forestry is responsible for the Yumurtalik and Akyatan wetlands.

kaynak : allaboutturkey.com/turkfauna.htm

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Turkish climate

Turkey’s diverse regions have different climates, with the weather system on the coasts contrasting with that prevailing in the interior. The Aegean and Mediterranean coasts have cool, rainy winters and hot, moderately dry summers. Annual precipitation in those areas varies from 580 to 1,300 millimeters, depending on location. Generally, rainfall is less to the east. The Black Sea coast receives the greatest amount of rainfall. The eastern part of that coast averages 1,400 millimeters annually and is the only region of Turkey that receives rainfall throughout the year.

Mountains close to the coast prevent Mediterranean influences from extending inland, giving the interior of Turkey a continental climate with distinct seasons. The Anatolian Plateau is much more subject to extremes than are the coastal areas. Winters on the plateau are especially severe. Temperatures of -30°C to -40°C can occur in the mountainous areas in the east, and snow may lie on the ground 120 days of the year. In the west, winter temperatures average below 1°C. Summers are hot and dry, with temperatures above 30°C. Annual precipitation averages about 400 millimeters, with actual amounts determined by elevation. The driest regions are the Konya Plateu and the Malatya Plateu, where annual rainfall frequently is less than 300 millimeters. May is generally the wettest month and July and August the driest.

The climate of the Anti-Taurus Mountain region of eastern Turkey can be inhospitable. Summers tend to be hot and extremely dry. Winters are bitterly cold with frequent, heavy snowfall. Villages can be isolated for several days during winter storms. Spring and autumn are generally mild, but during both seasons sudden hot and cold spells frequently occur.

Because of Turkey’s geographical conditions, one can not speak about a general overall climate. In Istanbul and around the sea of Marmara the climate is moderate (winter 4 deg.C and summer 27 deg.C); in winter the temperature can drop below zero. In Western Anatolia there is a mild Mediterranean climate with average temperatures of 9 deg.C in winter and 29 deg.C in summer. On the southern coast of Anatolia the same climate can be found. The climate of the Anatolian Plateau is a steppe climate (there is a great temperature difference between day and night). Rainfall is low and there is more snow. The average temperature is 23 deg.C in summer and -2 deg.C in winter. The climate in the Black Sea area is wet, warm and humid (summer 23 deg.C, winter 7 deg.C). In Eastern Anatolia and South-Eastern Anatolia there is a long hard winter, where year after year snow lies on the ground from November until the end of April (the average temperature in winter is -13 deg.C and in summer 17 deg.C).

Kaynak : allaboutturkey.com/iklim.htm

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Map Location and Time Zones

Before the late nineteenth century, time keeping was essentially a local phenomenon. Each town would set their clocks according to the motions of the Sun. Noon was defined as the time when the Sun reached its maximum altitude above the horizon. Cities and towns would assign a clockmaker to calibrate a town clock to these solar motions. This town clock would then represent “official” time and the citizens would set their watches and clocks accordingly.

The later half of the nineteenth century was time of increased movement of humans. In the United States and Canada, large numbers of people were moving west and settlements in these areas began expanding rapidly. To support these new settlements, railroads moved people and resources between the various cities and towns. However, because of the nature of how local time was kept, the railroads experience major problems in constructing timetables for the various stops. Timetables could only become more efficient if the towns and cities adopted some type of standard method of keeping time.

In 1878, Canadian Sir Sanford Fleming suggested a system of worldwide time zones that would simplify the keeping of time across the Earth. Fleming proposed that the globe be divided into 24 time zones, each 15 degrees of longitude in width. Since the world rotates once every 24 hours on its axis and there are 360 degrees of longitude, each hour of Earth rotation represents 15 degrees of longitude.

Railroad companies in Canada and the United States began using Fleming’s time zones in 1883. In 1884, an International Prime Meridian Conference was held in Washington D.C. to adopt the standardize method of time keeping and determined the location of the Prime Meridian. Conference members agreed that the longitude of Greenwich, England would become zero degrees longitude and established the 24 time zones relative to the Prime Meridian. It was also proposed that the measurement of time on the Earth would be made relative to the astronomical measurements at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. This time standard was called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Today, many nations operate on variations of the time zones suggested by Sir Fleming. Figure 2c-1 describes the various time zones currently used on the Earth. In this system, time in the various zones is measured relative the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) standard at the Prime Meridian. Coordinated Universal Time became the standard legal reference of time all over the world in 1972. UTC is determined from six primary atomic clocks that are coordinated by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) located in France. The numbers located at the bottom of Figure 2c-1 indicate how many hours each zone is earlier (negative sign) or later (positive sign) than the Coordinated Universal Time standard. Also note that national boundaries and political matters influence the shape of the time zone boundaries. For example, China uses a single time zone (eight hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time) instead of five different time zones.

Figure 2c-1: Modern standard times zones as measured relative to Coordinated Universal Time. The numbers located at the bottom indicate how many hours each zone is earlier (negative sign) or later (positive sign) than Coordinated Universal Time. Some nations (for example, Australia and India) have offset their time zones by half an hour. This situation is not shown on the illustration.
Figure 2c-1: Modern standard times zones as measured relative to Coordinated Universal Time. The numbers located at the bottom indicate how many hours each zone is earlier (negative sign) or later (positive sign) than Coordinated Universal Time. Some nations (for example, Australia and India) have offset their time zones by half an hour. This situation is not shown on the illustration.

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Introduction to Geographic Information Systems

Introduction and Brief History

The advent of cheap and powerful computers over the last few decades has allowed for the development of innovative software applications for the storage, analysis, and display of geographic data. Many of these applications belong to a group of software known as Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Many definitions have been proposed for what constitutes a GIS. Each of these definitions conforms to the particular task that is being performed. Instead of repeating each of these definitions, I would like to broadly define GIS according to what it does. Thus, the activities normally carried out on a GIS include:

  • The measurement of natural and human made phenomena and processes from a spatial perspective. These measurements emphasize three types of properties commonly associated with these types of systemselementsattributes, and relationships.
  • The storage of measurements in digital form in a computer database. These measurements are often linked to features on a digital map. The features can be of three types: points, lines, or areas (polygons).
  • The analysis of collected measurements to produce more data and to discover new relationships by numerically manipulating and modeling different pieces of data.
  • The depiction of the measured or analyzed data in some type of display – maps, graphs, lists, or summary statistics.

The first computerized GIS began its life in 1964 as a project of the Rehabilitation and Development Agency Program within the government of Canada. The Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS) was designed to analyze Canada’s national land inventory data to aid in the development of land for agriculture. The CGIS project was completed in 1971 and the software is still in use today. The CGIS project also involved a number of key innovations that have found their way into the feature set of many subsequent software developments.

From the mid-1960s to 1970s, developments in GIS were mainly occurring at government agencies and at universities. In 1964, Howard Fisher established the Harvard Lab for Computer Graphics where many of the industries early leaders studied. The Harvard Lab produced a number of mainframe GIS applications including: SYMAP (Synagraphic Mapping System),CALFORM, SYMVU, GRID, POLYVRT, and ODYSSEY. ODYSSEY was first modern vector GIS and many of its features would form the basis for future commercial applications. Automatic Mapping System was developed by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the late 1960s. This project then spawned the CIA’s World Data Bank, a collection of coastlines, rivers, and political boundaries, and the CAM software package that created maps at different scales from this data. This development was one of the first systematic map databases. In 1969, Jack Dangermond, who studied at the Harvard Lab for Computer Graphics, co-founded Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) with his wife Laura. ESRI would become in a few years the dominate force in the GIS marketplace and create ArcInfo and ArcView software. The first conference dealing with GIS took place in 1970 and was organized by Roger Tomlinson (key individual in the development of CGIS) and Duane Marble (professor at Northwestern University and early GIS innovator). Today, numerous conferences dealing with GIS run every year attracting thousands of attendants.

In the 1980s and 1990s, many GIS applications underwent substantial evolution in terms of features and analysis power. Many of these packages were being refined by private companies who could see the future commercial potential of this software. Some of the popular commercial applications launched during this period include: ArcInfoArcViewMapInfoSPANS GISPAMAP GISINTERGRAPH, andSMALLWORLD. It was also during this period that many GIS applications moved from expensive minicomputer workstations to personal computer hardware.

The difference between element and attribute data can be illustrated in Figures 2f-2 and 2f-3Figure 2f-2 shows the location of some of theearthquakes that have occurred in the last century. These plotted data points can be defined as elements because their main purpose is to describe the location of the earthquakes. For each of the earthquakes plotted on this map, the GIS also has data on their depth. These measurements can be defined as attribute data because they are connected to the plotted earthquake locations in Figure 2f-2Figure 2f-3 shows the attribute earthquake depth organized into three categories: shallow; intermediate; and deep. This analysis indicates a possible relationshipbetween earthquake depth and spatial location – deep earthquakes do not occur at the mid-oceanic ridges.Two basic types of data are normally entered into a GIS. The first type of data consists of real world phenomena and features that have some kind of spatial dimension. Usually, these data elements are depicted mathematically in the GIS as either points, lines, or polygons that are referenced geographically (or geocoded) to some type of coordinate system. This type data is entered into the GIS by devices like scanners, digitizers, GPS, air photos, and satellite imagery. The other type of data is sometimes referred to as an attribute. Attributes are pieces of data that are connected or related to the points, lines, or polygons mapped in the GIS. This attribute data can be analyzed to determine patterns of importance. Attribute data is entered directly into a database where it is associated with element data.

Figure 2f-3: Earthquake events organized according to depth (yellow (shallow) = surface to 25 kilometers below the surface, red (intermediate) = 26 to 75 kilometers below the surface, and black (deep) = 76 to 660 kilometers below the surface).

Components of a GIS

Geographic Information System combines computer cartography with a database management system. Figure 2f-1 describes some of the major components common to a GIS. This diagram suggests that a GIS consists of three subsystems: (1) an input system that allows for the collection of data to be used and analyzed for some purpose; (2) computer hardware and software systems that store the data, allow for data management and analysis, and can be used to display data manipulations on a computer monitor; (3) an output system that generates hard copy maps, images, and other types of output.

Within the GIS database a user can enter, analyze, and manipulate data that is associated with some spatial element in the real world. The cartographic software of the GIS enables one to display the geographic information at any scale or projection and as a variety of layers which can be turned on or off. Each layer would show some different aspect of a place on the Earth. These layers could show things like a road network, topography, vegetation cover, streams and water bodies, or the distribution of annual precipitation received. The output illustrated inFigure 2f-4 merges data layers for vegetation community type, glaciers and ice fields, and water bodies (streams, lakes, and ocean).

Figure 2f-2: Distribution of earthquake events that have occurred over the last century.
Figure 2f-4: Graphic output from a GIS. This GIS contains information about the major plant communities, lakes and streams, and glaciers and ice fields found occupying the province of British Columbia, Canada. The output shows Vancouver Island and part of the British Columbia mainland.


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Concepts of Time and Space in Physical Geography

The concepts of time and space are very important for understanding the function of phenomena in the natural world. Time is important to Physical Geographers because the spatial patterns they study can often only be explained in historic terms. The measurement of time is notabsolute. Time is perceived by humans in a relative fashion by using human created units of measurement. Examples of human created units of time are the measurement of seconds, minutes, hours, and days.

Geographers generally conceptualize two types of space. Concrete space represents the real world or environment. Abstract space models reality in a way that distills much of the spatial information contained in the real world. Maps are an excellent example of abstract space. Finally, like time, space is also perceived by humans in a relative fashion by using human created units of measurement.

Both time and space are variable in terms of scale. As such, researchers of natural phenomena must investigate their subjects in the appropriate temporal and/or spatial scales. For example, an investigator studying a forest ecosystem will have to deal with completely different scales of time and space when compared to a researcher examining soil bacteria. The trees that make up a forest generally occupy large tracts of land. For example, the boreal forest occupies millions of hectares in Northern Canada and Eurasia. Temporally, these trees have life spans that can be as long as several hundred years. On the other hand, soil bacteria occupy much smaller spatial areas and have life spans that can be measured in hours and days.

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Turkey’s physical geography

Geographically, Turkey forms a natural bridge between the old world continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The Anatolian peninsula is the westernmost point of Asia, divided from Europe by the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. Thrace is the western part of Turkey on the European continent.

Examination of Turkey’s topographic structure on a physical map of the world shows clearly the country’s high elevation in comparison to its neighbors, half of the land area being higher than 1000 meters and two thirds higher than 800 meters. Mountain ranges extend in an east-west direction parallel to the north and south coasts, and these are a principal factor in determining ecological conditions. This also means that apart from the Asi river in Anatolia and the Meriç in Thracian Turkey, all Turkey’s rivers have their sources within its borders and flow into the sea, into neighboring countries or into interior drainages. Turkey has seven river basins. The principal rivers in the Black Sea basin being the Sakarya, Kizilirmak Yesilirmak and Çoruh. There are also several rivers with short courses but high water flows in the Eastern Black Sea region, such as the Ikizdere, Hursit Cayi and Firtina. The highest waterfall in Turkey is on the Totum river here.

The Marmara basin has fewer rivers, the longest being the Kocaçay (whose upper and middle reaches are called the Simav and Susurluk respective) which rises on Mount Murat and flows into the Marmara Sea from the south.

Continue reading “Turkey’s physical geography”

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