Concentrated Summary of Research Results
Location & Geology
  • The research area of LöKAT (Landscape Ecological Complex Analysis in Turkey) is located in SE-Turkey (Hatay Province). In altitude it extends from the colline to the subalpine belt at the western slope of the Amanos Mtn. in the Dörtyol region. As the eastern border of the Gulf of Iskenderun, the Mountain is a late alpidic folding and a southern extension of the Iranian mountain chain of the eastern Toros range. It continues in the Cyprian mountains. The eastern border of the Amanos is marked by a tectonic break line (Jordan-Maras fault basin), which has its starting point at the northeastern border of the Amanos upfolding. As a part of the mountain range at the Levantinian Coast, the Amanos above Dörtyol rises to its highest peaks up to > 2.200 m a.s.l.

  • In the research area the colline belt comprises sub-marine basic and ultrabasic greenstone series incl. serpentinite of mesozoic origin (upper cretaceous), the middle montane belt limestones of different types incl. dolomitic limestones (mesozoic - tertiary) and the middle to upper montane belt (incl. sub-alpine belt) sandstone series with quarzites and siltstones (lower to upper palaeozoic).
  • Very well developed soils - in the sense of soil genetically defined chronosequences - were found all over the above mentioned rock series. Obviously they are far more seldom in areas of strong extensive management. Due to divergent lithogenesis and related weathering conditions, the depth of soil development differs greatly.
  • The coastal belt and the colline landscapes underneath the resaerch area show bioclimatologically humid to perhumid meso- to submediterranean conditions. Real eumediterranean climatic regimes are absent in the Dörtyol region. The entire montane belt belongs, in a pluviothermic point of view, to the perhumid ‘non-mediterranean’ type of bioclimate. Short-term shortages of water supply for plants on exposed sites with understocked forest and anthropogenic soil erosion or very shallow soil cover can be expected during summer time in spite of the favorable of humidity.

  • Heavy precipitation occurs frequently in October, February and April. Mainly in October, strong rainfall events were measured in the research area (e.g. 62 mm h-1 or 137 mm in 5 hours). The most frequent precipitation rates are < 5 mm d-1 and have been registered by the climatic stations S2 (950 m a.s.l.) and S3 (1.600 m a.s.l.). The highest rain frequency was measured in the middle montane belt (50 % days with rain per year), and the lowest in the subalpine area (29 % days with rain per year). The altitudinal gradient of precipitation is not linear. The highest mean precipitation rates were found in the middle montane belt with 2.300 mm y-1. The yearly means are similar in the lower montane and upper colline belt and the subalpine area (for comparison Dörtyol, 28 m a.s.l., 1.022 mm y-1).

Flora & Vegetation
  • The southernmost distributed extrazonal vegetation of Euro-Siberian origin on the investigated slopes of the Amanos represents, with regard to its extension and species diversity, the largest area with the highest abundance of geoelements mainly of Euxinian provenance. In contradiction to hitherto existing assumptions, the portion of endemics [cf. Draba haradjianii and Carduus amanus ] is lower than the average of the country.

  • This remarkable vegetation owes its existence exclusively to the macroclimatic conditions of the east mediterranean area during summertime.

    During this season, etesian winds with monsoonal character lead to cloudbank formations at the western slopes
    . The supply of humidity, in combination with reduced global radiation to nearly 40 %, and the influence of cloud cover on temperature, are responsible for unique climatological conditions in the middle montane belt. On the contrary, precipitations of cyclonal origin definitly favor the easterly and not the westerly exposed slopes.

  • The present climatic situation and the reconstructed history of the macroclimate of the E-Mediterranean area leave no doubt that the extrazonal vegetation of the Amanos is of holocene origin. Nearly 100 % of the determined Euro-Siberian species are identical with species of climatologically comparable landscapes of the Black Sea Coastal Mountain (Pontus) region and areas of the NW-Balkan Peninsula. Out of 610 determined taxa (238KB) (cf. separate website with detailed information) the portion of Euro-Siberians and biregionals are much higher than the portion of Mediterranean geoelements. Euro-Siberian elements of Euxinian provenance dominate the vegetation in the montane belt (61KB) . In the extremly humid zonality, a hygro-thermal S/N-gradient is recognizable. The topographically and altitudinally related vertical arrangement of vegetation belts shows surprising similarities to the climatological dependent S/N-zonation of vegetation.

  • The middle to upper colline belt of the research area is covered by an anthropogenic Pinus brutia mixed forest. Besides several macchie elements (evergreens are rare) in the understory the portion of Euxinian deciduous elements is already very high (e.g. Quercus cerris, Carpinus orientalis and Fraxinus ornus ssp.), which leads to a character of undergrowth between ‘pseudomacchie’ and ‘shiblyak’. In valleys of the lower montane area and mainly on the middle montane belt on limestones, Carpinus orientalis dominates on northwesterly and Quercus cerris on southwesterly exposed slopes, especially those with shallow soils. Xero-Euxinian elements of this belt occupy mainly oligo- to mesohemerobic sites. Shady valleys and humid ravines with atmospherically moist and edaphically wet conditions are dominated by a Laurus - Tilia mixed forest, which is rich with many different ferns. Mainly on limestones typical companions of this mesophylous forest are Staphylea pinnata (very frequent), Buxus sempervirens (frequent), Taxus baccata (frequent) and Ilex colchica (rare, very similar to Ilex aquifolia). Growing in soils of the sandstone series, Fagus orientalis is absolutely dominant on the entire inner montane belt up to the upper border of forest and timberline. In a mosaic pattern Pinus nigra ssp. pallasiana stands are admixed. Abies cilicica occurs very sporadically on northwesterly exposed slopes > 1.300 m a.s.l. but covers large areas of southerly innermontane slope positions > 1.700 m a.s.l. Cedrus libani generally occurs very rarely.
Flora - Vegetation & Soils
  • The distribution of vegetation in the research area is predominantly determined by the possible water supply in soils during summer time. The importance of usable field capacity (uFC) of soils decreases with decreasing evaporation loss as a result of shade effects in valleys and gor-ges or ravines. Sites preferred by Euro-Siberian geoelements are generally soils with sufficient clay migration, high values of uFC mainly in the subsoil (B-horizon) and in addition, high contents of sand and loam fractions in the topsoil (A-horizon). The highest values of uFC (grand total of the profile) were found in soils of the middle montane limestone series. Mainly oligo- to mesohemerobic soils of high slopes, ridges and crests with regressive soil development and often unproductive evaporation as a result of high contents of humus and clay in the topsoils, are typical sites of (East-)Mediterranean and Xero-Euxinian geoelements.

  • Highly developed soils are generally restricted to sites hardly reachable for human beings and their animals and rarely found in the middle montane area of extensive cultivation (mainly grazing). Under the given climatic, and with respect to initial lithological conditions for soil development, the most favourable soil water contents can be found more easily on the complex of sandstone series. The affect of floristical differentiation of the pH-value between soils of the sandstone and limestone series, parallel with the exposition of slopes, lead to a distinct separation of Carpinus orientalis / Quercus cerris- and Fagus orientalis - units in the area of sand-stone series.

  • In general Fagus orientalis is indifferent to the various kinds of soils derived from different parent rocks of the Amanos Mtn. In the research area, vegetation units dominated by the oriental beech are also well distributed on soils originating from limestones, if these soils are deeply and well developed (e.g. Chromic Luvisols with a distinct Bt-horizon as a result of illimerisation). A lithologically and pedologically based differentiation of vegetation units in areas with limestone series or ultrabasic greenstones as parent rocks (e.g. serpentinite) were not detected. A lack in differing species - an accepted phenomenon - for soils derived from serpentinite, as a result of high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil solution available to plants, was not confirmed for the research area. On the contrary, in the heavily overgrazed transition area of both limestone series and serpentinite the highest species diversity and population density was found.

  • The short-term as well as the long-term nutrient supply is sufficient in soils derived from sand-stones with moderate to very low pH-values, in soils derived from limestone with weak alkaline soil solution and in soils derived from serpentinite with weak acid conditions. The best nutrient supply was found in soils derived from limestones. Due to low pH-values in sandstone-soils, the effective Cation Exchange Capacity (CECeff) has to be classified as ‘very low’ to ‘low’. Nutritional shortages are maybe only a problem for low rooting species. Aluminium-toxicity in soils derived from sandstones was not found. In soils originating from ultrabasic greenstones, the concentration of nickel and chrome does not reach toxic levels. The high concentration of interchangeable magnesium in soils last mentioned were not found as limiting factors for plant distribution.
Numerical Ordination and Indicator-Parameter
  • With numerical ordinations, the following environmental parameters for plant distribution were recognized as determining variables: on the altitudinal gradient the continuously changing climatic conditions and the strong decrease of ‘global radiation’ as a result of cloudbank formations in the middle montane belt, the very low ‘pH-values’ of sandstone-soils, the relief positions ‘high slopes’, ‘ridges’, ‘crests’ and steep valley sides with valley bottoms. Although the variables ‘shallow soil cover’ and low ‘usable field capacity’ correlate with exposed ‘ridges’ and ‘crests’, these variables do not explain the variance in the data sets as well as ‘altitude’, variation of ‘global radiation’ and ‘pH-value’ (resp. ‘sandstone-formation’). Vegetation units dominated by Carpinus orientalis show a clear correlation to mean soil layers with extremely high usable field capacities. In contradiction Quercus cerris - units are more related to shallow soils on ‘high slopes’, ‘ridges’ and ‘crests’. Fagus orientalis sites located in the range of limestone series correlate strongly with very well developed soils (e.g. Bt-horizon) with extremely high ‘uFC’ and a very low content of ‘dead water’ - respectively ‘unavailable water for plants’.
Hemeroby and Indicators
  • Man-induced modifications of habitat factors in the research area in the past lead to changes in abundance and dominance of highly frequent species on the altitudinal gradient. In general, the change of plant populations probably would be the same under ahemerobic or oligohemerobic conditions. Nevertheless, it must be supposed that with only very low human impact over a long period of time and under the same existing climatic conditions e.g. Quercus cerris would already dominate northwesterly exposed colline foothills above Dörtyol. Stands with Fagus orientalis on limestone would expand and Carpinus orientalis would replace Quercus cerris on most of the middle montane sites.

  • Indicators for degradation of site conditions from the colline to middle montane belt are very well distributed as a result of openings and understocked forests, trial structure of slopes, soil deterioration and impoverishment (with the negative effect on soil moisture). Apart from Mediterranean species, Pteridium aquilinum and Ruscus aculeatus var. angustifolius are very frequent. Pteridium and Ruscus are rare on very shallow soils. The intensity of landscape cultivation can be evaluated not only by the range of (often light demanding) indicator plant types, but also by the degree of coverage and structural diversity of different vegetation layers. Mainly the layers < 10 cm and 10-50 cm show remarkable hints for understocked forests resp. coppice wood or open woodland and eutrophication.
Lifeforms on the Altitudinal Gradient
  • The spectrum of life forms is dominated by hemicryptophytes in all vegetation units and altitudinal belts. With regard to the high portion of phanerophytes, similarities with the NW-Balkan Peninsula are obvious. Thero- and hemicryptophytes are strongly represented in the middle montane area with high species diversity as a result of very extensive cultivation. Phanerophytes and hemicryptophytes are the leading life forms in the mixed beech forest of the high mountain belt. Just as the abundance of Mediterranean and Euro-Siberian geoelements changes continuously with increasing altitude, the spectrum of life forms changes in the same manner. The portion of therophytes decreases and thus of hemicrypthophytes increases. Discontinuities are related significantly to cultivation impacts.
Cartography & Mapping
  • Thematical Ecological Maps (TEMaps) have been developed on the basis of topographical maps, soil and vegetation investigations, field notices in enlarged sections of topographical maps, photos from the landscape, aerial photographs and the digital classification of satellite images. Correlations of vegetation and soil units are of special interest for comparison purposes. However, astonishingly few coincidences have been found. The best correlations are recognizable between soil units of shady valleys, deeply weathered soils on limestones and - on general - soils derived from sandstone series. The distributional pattern of vegetation depending on exposition is not correlated with the distribution of soils. The lowest correlations have been found in the middle montane area and the colline belt.

  • Due to the scale of digitalized satellite images, the interpretation of small vegetation units is strongly restricted. Shade effects, different reflections, numerous reflectivities of parent rocks and talus deposits on the altitudinal gradient in relation to exposition and altitude can be the cause for many classification mistakes. Reliable results are available only with a series of multi-seasonal and multitemporal data sets. Presumption for the evaluation of satellite-based field data is generally the traditionally claimed knowledge (geology, soils and vegetation) of the landscape where vegetation mapping has to be performed.
Society & Economy
  • The social and economic situation in the research area and its neighborhood is characterized by the extraordinary density and increase of population. Besides growing industrialisation, not only the entire coastal belt is therefore under cultivation, but in addition and with increasing tendencies, the hilly landscapes and mountainous regions. Due to these circumstances, rapid changes of the coastal landscapes and namely the westerly exposed slopes of the Amanus Mtn. are observed. The most important impacts are: expanding of grazing areas in montane areas (increasing restrictions in intensive cultivated coastal landscapes for traditional animal farming are the reason), uncontrolled and illegal wood consumption (stand inventories and descriptions of the forest management regarding structure and composition of stands do not agree with the reality) and expanding of (summer-)settlements with infra-structural openings (road construction, electricity and water supply).

  • Recognizable results of increasing anthropogenous impact on the research area are: openings and understocked forests, open woodlands (mainly loss of trees and shrubs), desiccation of soils and increasing surface run-off with concentrated seasonal run-off processes (with the result of negative effects on water supply for coastal areas and the soil water balance of mountain slopes), erosion on high slopes, crests, ridges and mainly on steep slopes with road constructions, increasing meso- to ß-hemerobic sites (which will be occupied by Mediterranean species with a large amplitude of site requirements and at least deterioration of site conditions for rare and endangered Euro-Siberian geoelements). Decrease of species diversity and loss of genetic resources of national and international importance.
Copyright © Harald Kehl
Formerly TU-Berlin · Fak. VI · Inst. f. Ökologie,
Updated on 11 December, 2023