Date: 11 Apr 2012

The Central Anatolian Steppe

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Abstract

The characteristic landscape features of Central Anatolia (Turkey) include large ovası and basins, which are naturally bare of forests and woodlands, but were formerly occupied by steppe vegetation. These steppes evolve under a pronounced continental climate, which is extremely cold in winter and dry and hot during summer. Rainfall is less than 300 mm/year, favouring treeless steppe vegetation dominated by well-adapted dwarf-shrubs, a few herbs, and a larger number of geophytes and annuals. We review the present knowledge on Central Anatolian steppe vegetation (Onobrychido armenae-Thymetalia leucostomi, Astragalo-Brometea) and provide insight into the complex structure and species composition of today’s primary and secondary steppes and their replacement communities. In addition, the changes in vegetation due to the long-lasting human impact such as grazing and agricultural activities (ca. one-third of Turkey’s grain production concentrates in the former steppe area) are shown, which generally led to a loss of species and a massive decline of the diversity in the area. Finally, we outline some perspectives that may stop the continuing soil erosion and degradation and re-establish a natural equilibrium in the remaining steppe fragments of Central Anatolia.