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Caucasus EcoSystem

Caucasus EcoSystem

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Published by: Birdlife International Pacific Partnership on Sep 10, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/31/2011

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The vegetation of the Caucasus is quite diverse as a result of the varied relief, climate and
evolutionary history. Outstanding features include plants and plant associations that date
back to the Tertiary Period, including in the Colchic Region in the Black Sea basin and
the Hyrcanic Region in the southeastern portion of the Caucasus on the Caspian Sea
coast. The abundance of relic and endemic plant species in the region is largely due to
the fact that the Caucasus was spared glaciation during the last Iceage. The Colchic
Refugia (Georgia, Russia and Turkey) and the Hyrcanic Refugia (Azerbaijan and Iran)
harbor species found nowhere else like Imeretian and pontic oaks, Medwedew’s birch,

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Ungern’s and Smirnow’s rhododendron, epigea and others. Chestnut-leaf oak, Hyrcanic
poplar, danae and other plants are endemic relics of the Hyrcanic Region. Relic forests
of endemic box tree occur in the northern part of the Colchic Region.

About 700 species of higher plants are listed in regional Red Books of Rare and
Endangered Species, including at least 20 species of bellflower and 18 species of iris.
Five species of lichens and 11 species of fungi are also locally endangered. Tigran’s
elder is the only globally threatened plant included in the IUCN Red List and considered
in this Ecosystem Profile as a conservation target at the species level. This vulnerable
shrub is an endemic found sporadically in the Shirak, Aparan, Yerevan and Darelegis
regions of Armenia, in lower and middle mountain belts on dry rocky and clay soils. It is
threatened by habitat loss to development and overgrazing.

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