Besides climate change vulnerability, most ecosystems are under threat from a history of improper land-use and conservation policies, yet there is little existing long-term ecological research infrastructure in Turkey. In regions with no ecological networks across large landscapes, ecoregion concept offers opportunities for characterizing the landscape under changing climate.
Aim is to develop contemporary and future quantitative ecoregions for Turkey based on climate model outputs, to identify climate change-sensitive areas of biodiversity and conservation significance, and to provide a framework for a comprehensive ecological observatory network design.
Using Multivariate Spatio-Temporal Clustering and climate data contemporary and projected future distributions of Turkey’s ecoregions are delineated at several division levels.
Turkey’s contemporary ecoregions generally show a northward shift by the end of this century and the lengthening of the growing season across the country, especially eastward and northward. The increase in growing season length, along with the shift in precipitation seasonality and increasing growing season precipitation, shape future conditions within the climate change-sensitive areas. Apart from transboundary ecological and socioeconomic significance, these potentially vulnerable ecosystems also constitute the majority of Turkey’s biodiversity hotspots.
Our study marks the first ‘ecoregionalization’ study for Turkey based on both contemporary and future climate scenarios. For countries like Turkey, where large-scale ecological networks have not been established, using such quantitative methodology for delineation of optimal ecoclimatic regions, and for mapping environments at risk from climate change provides an invaluable perspective for conservation planning strategies, and a framework for a comprehensive ecological observatory network design.