deer, endangered deer

Endangered Mediterranean Mammals Highlight Intriguing Region

September 21, 2009 08:00 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
According to a new report, one in six Mediterranean mammal species are endangered, calling attention to an extremely diverse region often overlooked by conservationists.

Larger Species at Great Risk

A recent region update from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) released the disheartening news in a report called “The Status and Distribution of Mediterranean Mammals.” The report is “the first major assessment of mammals in this region,” and evaluated the status of 320 mammals.

Three percent were deemed “Critically Endangered,” 5 percent are considered “Endangered,” and 8 percent are “Vulnerable to extinction,” according to John Platt for Scientific American. The report also found that 41 percent of at-risk species “are unique to the region,” and cited loss of habitat and degradation as the main threats to the mammals.

Annabelle Cuttelod of IUCN, who coauthored the report, said in a prepared statement, “We need international action to protect key areas and preserve natural habitats to ensure we don't lose the rich biodiversity in this area,” Scientific American reported. Among the species at risk, “large herbivores, such as deer, and carnivores as well as rabbits and hares are particularly threatened,” Platt wrote.

In February, The Nature Conservancy and the University of California, Davis released results of a “systematic analysis of threats” to Mediterranean biodiversity indicating that the area faced “significant and increasing pressure,” according to ScienceDaily. The study was included in “a global conservation assessment of the rare Mediterranean biome,” where the mild climate has given rise to “major urban centers, vast agricultural zones and dense human populations—all in the midst of some of the rarest biodiversity on Earth,” Dr. Rebecca Shaw of The Nature Conservancy told ScienceDaily.

Monk Seals

In June 2008, the U.S. government announced that Caribbean monk seals were “officially extinct and the only seal to vanish due to human causes,” MSNBC reported. The only remaining monk seal speciesare Hawaiian and Mediterranean, which are both near extinction. Hawaiian and Mediterranean monk seal populations have dropped “to below 1,200 and 500 individuals, respectively,” fisheries service reports stated, according to MSNBC.

Reference: Mediterranean climate

Encyclopedia Britannica describes the Mediterranean climate as having “hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters.” Although California exhibits some characteristics of the region, “[o]nly in Europe, where the latitude for this climate type fortuitously corresponds to an ocean basin...does this climate type extend eastward away from the coast for any significant distance.”

Related Topic: Mediterranean travel

Located in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, a host of islands provide the perfect escape. Gibraltar, Sardinia, Corsica and Elba officially belong to the Western European nations of Great Britain, France and Italy, but these islands have a character and culture all their own.

Thanks to its Mediterranean-like climate, a stark contrast to the damp northern coast, France’s Noirmoutier Island is famed for its salts, such as fleur de sel, which is coveted by chefs around the world. In Noirmoutier, however, the algae-infused treasure is commonly found at the dinner table and used in simple dishes like boiled potatoes.

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