Biodiversity and Endangered Species

Biodiversity and a Global biodiversity crisis

Diversity of the living world – plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms is generally called biodiversity. The word is composed from two words: Biological and Diversity and describes the variety of life forms, their communities and habitats in which they live.

Due to changes in natural habitats following the industrial revolution from 19th Century natural environment all across the World has changed significantly. According to different UN reports ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating and vanishing at an unprecedented rate. The phenomenon that is reflected in more than one million species that are threatened with extinction is known as a “Global biodiversity crisis”.

Biodiversity in Turkey

Turkey is one of the richest areas in terms of biodiversity. This is due to the fact that three biodiversity hotspots meet in Turkey: Caucasus, Irano-Anatolian and Mediterranean – a case that is extremely rare elsewhere in the World. As a result, many different ecosystems can be found in the country, resulting in very diverse plant and animal life.

Endangered Species

Turkey’s modern society, as it is the case elsewhere in the World, has a significant influence on its environment and the biodiversity. Of the greatest threats for the survival of the species are the changes, loss and fragmentation of their habitats. Human beings, in fact, have deeply modified the territory, as a result of a large growth in the population, industrial development, the expansion of transportation networks, agriculture and fishing on an industrial scale. As a result, of the 3.000 wild species living in Turkey that have been assessed on global level, more than 600, one fifth, are threatened and four, all of them endemic fish, have become extinct recently due to human-caused pressures.

Species Action Plans

Within the Endangered Species project, we aim to make a step forward to prevent species extinction and ensure their long-term survival in Turkey. In order to succeed in this ambitious goal, the project is focusing both at increasing capacities of responsible authorities in Turkey so they can ensure better management of sites that are critically important for the survival of species and increasing awareness of wider public that will understand and support the need for changes.

Species can only survive if the wider-landscape conservation approach is applied – meaning that for a species to survive, their habitats, ensuring food, shelter and reproduction success need to be preserved. Managers of protected areas will develop their experiences from best examples in European Union and elsewhere in the world how to manage priority sites for the benefit of long-term survival of animals and plants, but also us humans, that depend on same natural resources, such as clear, fish-rich waters, clean and healthy rural areas, water and timber rich mountains and unspoiled coastline.

Through pilot examples of the so-called Species Action Plans, we will demonstrate how efficient management can encompass all these demanding goals and hopefully pave a way for a brighter and harmonious future of man and nature in Turkey.

The role of the General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks

As the authority for protection of nature, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Parks has many projects on-site. Among these are the management of protected areas, species action plans and national biodiversity inventory, as well as the follow up of international treaties on nature conservation. The General Directorate is responsible from harmonisation of EU legislation in Nature conservation field.

Target Species

There will be 11 target species of animals and plants that the project will focus to. So far 5 pilot species were preselected in the framework of the Multi-species Action Plan. The rest of the species will be selected at a later stage, following a systematic and scientifically objective selection process. The six remaining pilot species will include representatives of:

  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Invertebrates
  • Plants and
  • A selected habitat-dependent species of a plant

The existing pilot species of a Multi-species Action Plan include five species of ducks: White-headed Duck, Ferruginous Duck, Common Pochard, Velvet Scoter and Marbled Teal.

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala

Is a small diving duck with a large bill and long characteristic tail that the birds often keep upright. Males have white head and in the breeding time their bills become bright blue. A large proportion of species global population winters in Turkey and some birds are breeding in shallow steppe lakes of Anatolia.


Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca

Males and females of this species look similar, the main difference being in eye colour – they are white in males and dark brown in females. The plumage is dark rufous, with a rusty colour glossy shine that gave the duck its name. They feed on underwater plants and small animals while diving.


Common Pochard Aythya ferina

Although in winter this is one of the commonest ducks in Turkey, their numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate due to habitat loss and persecution. The males are colourful with reddish head, black chest and tail and grey body, while the females are more uniformly greyish-brown.


Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca

This species of duck is very rare and restricted in Turkey and in generally its global population is undergoing a rapid decline. It is probably still breeding in some isolated mountain lakes of NE Turkey and wintering in few sites of the Black Sea coastline. It feeds on small invertebrates, mostly molluscs. Males are more prominently coloured that females.


Marbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris

The status of marbled teal in Turkey is currently unknown. It used to breed in Göksu river delta and in some other isolated sites until recently, but latest surveys didn’t confirm its presence. It breeds in specific halophilic lakes with relatively deep water and thick vegetation that are becoming scarce. Both sexes look alike.

Marbled Duck - Ufuk Yorukoglu

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