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You are here: Home / Publications / Europe's biodiversity - biogeographical regions and seas

Europe's biodiversity - biogeographical regions and seas

EEA Report No 1/2002
cover

Published by

  • EEA (European Environment Agency)
  • Published: 30 May 2002

Content

 

Chapters will be uploaded to this part of the site as they become available.

 




Executive summary


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Introduction


This preliminary introduction describes the background for the report on Europe's biodiversity – biogeographical regions and regional seas, how it was produced and what will be the expected full content.

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Biogeographical regions in Europe


Biogeographical regions are useful geographical reference units for describing habitat types and species which live under similar conditions in different countries. In this section of the report on Europe's biodiversity – biogeographical regions and regional seas each of the eleven biogeographical regions of Europe is described in a short chapter.


Chapter The Continental biogeographical region

The area treated in this chapter is the Continental biogeographical region as defined by the European Commission and the Council of Europe for evaluation and assessment of nature conservation. It is a region that connects to most other biogeographical regions of Europe. The Continental region extends in a central east-west band over most of Europe. A relatively narrow fringe of land separates it from the Atlantic Ocean in the west; in the east it reaches as far as the border of Asia, just south of the Ural Mountains. It reaches Denmark and Sweden in the north, Italy and the Balkan Peninsula in the south. The region includes or borders to several of the European Alpine biogeographical sub-regions. The region is not entirely contiguous: the Alps act as a barrier, isolating the part of the region on the Apennine Peninsula. The Continental region entirely surrounds the Pannonian region as well as the Carpathian Mountains, which belong to the Alpine region. In countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina the shifts from one region to another occur over short distances. The Czech Republic is fully within the region except for a small area in southeast. Luxembourg is wholly within the region.


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Chapter The Mediterranean biogeographical region

The area treated in this chapter is the Mediterranean biogeographical region as defined by the European Commission and the Council of Europe for evaluation and reporting on nature conservation. The Mediterranean region meets the Mediterranean Sea in 12 countries along its northern coast. Only on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula the region borders on the very different North Atlantic Ocean in Portugal.


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Chapter The Atlantic region

The area treated in this chapter is the Atlantic biogeographical region as defined by the European Commission and the Council of Europe for evaluation and reporting on nature conservation. Information on habitats and species may be found in the EUNIS web database.


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Chapter The Arctic biogeographical region

This chapter describes conditions of and influences on main habitat types and species groups living under the extreme climatic and light conditions in the Arctic region. The region is highly sensitive to changing climatic conditions and to disturbance from rapidly growing tourism and from chemical pollution.


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Chapter The Alpine biogeographical region

Ranges of mountains constitute the alpine biogeographic region in Europe: It includes some of the oldest and most recent mountains of the world; the Alps, the Scandes, the Pyrenees, the Carpathians, the Rhodopes, the Urals, the Caucasia and the Dinaric Alps. Mountains are vulnerable ecosystems which exhibits a rich fauna and flora with a high level of endemism. Tourism, transportation, land-use change and also atmospheric pollution are strongly impacting many mountain areas. Climate change will affect the species composition and some. highland mountain species may become extinct. On the positive side is tat the values of mountainous ecosystems are increasingly being recognised in international political for a nd also regional initiatives are being launched for the protection and the sustainable development of Europe's mountains. Thus in some mountain ranges large herbivores and carnivores are making a comeback as a result of habitat protection and re-introduction initiatives.


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Chapter The Anatolian region

The region corresponds to the interior and eastern part of the Anatolian peninsula, having no contact with the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. The region extends over three different geographical areas: the central Anatolian Plateau, the east Anatolian mountain range and the northern Mesopotamia.


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Chapter The Black Sea Region

The region consists of two coastal bands encompassing the southern half of the Black Sea. The western part stretches from the delta of the Danube, through the Dobrouja plateau, across low mountains extending east towards the Bosphorus outlet. This stretch is 530 km long and its width varies between 20 and 60 km. The other part - 1 400 km long and between 10 and 160 km wide - stretches from east of the Bosphorus over the various mountain ranges along the southern coast of the Black Sea and as far as the Caucasus mountains in the east.


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Chapter The Macaronesia biogeographical region

The volcanic islands of Macaronesia cover an array of landscapes ranging from deserts and xerophytic scrubs in arid and rocky areas in eastern Canaries to humid mountain evergreen broadleaf forests in Madeira and the Azores. Tourism has during recent decades created a significant pressure to biodiversity. Introduction of alien species has a long history and several have had a devasting effect on the unique ecosystems of the islands.


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Chapter The Pannonian region

The Pannonian biogeographic region, also known as the central Danubian basin, is completely surrounded by mountains. It is enclosed by the Alps in the west and the Dinarics in the south. The Carpathians encircle the north and east. As regards the main features of relief, alluvial plains dominate with sparse isolated low hills in the interior and low mountain ranges along the boundaries.


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Chapter

The Steppic region


The Steppic region stretches from Bucharest in the west, across the lower section of the floodplain of the Danube, along the north of the Black Sea and the foothills of the Caucasus. It is bordered in the east by the northwest coast of the Caspian Sea and the Ural River. Its boundary in the north is the beginning of the wooded steppe, which is part of the Continental region. It represents the European part of the steppes, a continuous band as far as to the Altai mountains on the borders of Mongolia.


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Regional seas around Europe


The regional seas of Europe are the geographical reference units for describing marine habitat types and species of Europe. In this section of the report on Europe's biodiversity – biogeographical regions and regional seas the biodiversity of each of the seven regional seas around Europe is described in a short chapter.


Chapter

The North Sea


This chapter of the report describes conditions of and influences on main habitat types and species groups living in the North Sea. This shallow and rather young ecosystem is extremely productive and one of the worlds most important fishing grounds having also intensive oil and gas exploitation.


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Chapter

The Mediterranean Sea


This chapter of the report describes conditions of and influences on main habitat types and species groups living in the deep, nutrient poor waters of the Mediterranean sea. The region has a high number of endemic species and is sensitive to introduction of alien species, overexploitation of natural resources and pollution.


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Chapter

The Black Sea


This chapter of the report describes conditions of and influences on main habitat types and species groups living in the Black Sea. The sea is without oxygen in all its deep waters. Its ecosystem including fish stocks is highly sensitive to the introduction of alien species.


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Chapter

The Caspian Sea


This chapter of the report describes conditions of and influences on main habitat types and species groups living in the Caspian Sea. This largest enclosed sea in the world has an extremely high rate of endemic species and 85 % of the worlds sturgeon population.


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