Zagros Mountains forest steppe
The Zagros Mountains are a belt of folded mountains formed by the collision of the African Plate
with the Eurasian Plate
. On the west, south, and east, the mountains are surrounded by deserts and semi-deserts. The dry grasslands, shrublands, and low-lying deserts of Mesopotamia and southern Iran lie to the west, and the plateau deserts of the Iranian Plateau
to the east. The Armenian Highlands
and Alborz Mountains
lie to the north.
The ecoregion's climate is semi-arid and temperate. Annual precipitation ranges from 400 m to 800 mm, and falls mostly in winter and spring. Summers are hot and dry, and winters are cold, with the coldest winter temperatures dropping below -25º C. Temperatures are generally warmer and the climate drier at the southern end of the range.
A view of Persian oak
forests that dominate the Zagros Mountains
The predominant plant community in the mountains is forest or open woodland of deciduous broadleaf trees, with an understory of of steppe shrubs and grasses. Oaks
, particularly Persian oak
), are the characteristic trees, covering over 50% of the Zagros mountains in Iran.
spp.) forms groves, and grows in association with oaks. Vegetation varies with altitude and exposure to prevailing winds. In the northern part of the ecoregion, shrub steppe of Astragalus
spp. and Salvia
spp. with scattered trees occurs above 400m to 500m elevation. Forests and forest remnants of Quercus brantii
and/or Q. boissieri
occur from 700 to 800 meters elevation to about 1,700 m. The treeline
is at 1,900 to 2,000 meters elevation, with sub-alpine vegetation above it.
At the southern end of the range, the trees are sparser and more open, and the steppe vegetation is more prominent. Steppe extends up to 1400 meters elevation, and open woodlands of Quercus brantii
), nettle tree
spp.) and pear
and Pyrus glabra
) continue up to 2,400 meters.
Although degraded from overgrazing
, the Zagros is home to a rich and complex flora. Remnants of the originally widespread oak-dominated woodland can still be found, as can park-like pistachio-almond steppelands. The wild ancestors of many important food plants, including wheat
, almond, walnut
, pistachio, apricot
, and grape
, grow throughout the mountains.
Seasonal vegetation cover of the mountain top of Dasht- Kahou, Taq-e Bostan, Kermanshah, Zagros
plants of the mountain range include Allium iranicum
, Astragalus crenophila
, Bellevalia kurdistanica
, Cousinia carduchorum
, Cousinia odontolepis
, Echinops rectangularis
, Erysimum boissieri
, Iris barnumiae
, Ornithogalum iraqense
, Scrophularia atroglandulosa
, Scorzonera kurdistanica
, Tragopogon rechingeri
, and Tulipa kurdica
In the late 19th century
, the Asiatic lion
(Panthera leo persica
) inhabited the southwestern part of the mountains.
It is now extinct in this region.
The Luristan newt
) is a vulnerable species endemic to the central Zagros mountains of Iran.
A 2017 assessment found that 20,339 km², or 5%, of the ecoregion is in protected areas.
Protected areas include:
- Arjan and Parishan Protected Area (IUCN category V, 597.8 km²)
- Bamou National Park (IUCN category II, 486.8 km²)
- Bakhtegan Wildlife Refuge (IUCN category IV, 2004 km²)
- Kolahghazi Wildlife Refuge (IUCN category IV, 41.2 km²)
- Dez Wildlife Refuge (IUCN category IV, 53 km²)
- Bijar Protected Area (IUCN category V, 316.1 km²)
- Bahramgor Protected Area (IUCN category V, 4080 km²)
- Angoran Protected Area (IUCN category V, 923.2 km²)
- Dez Protected Area (IUCN category V, 175.3 km²)
- Karkheh Protected Area (IUCN category V, 140 km²)
- ^ a b c d "Zagros Mountains forest steppe". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
- ^ a b Dinerstein, Eric; Olson, David; et al. (June 2017). "An Ecoregion-Based Approach to Protecting Half the Terrestrial Realm". BioScience. 67 (6): 534–545. doi:10.1093/biosci/bix014. PMC 5451287. PMID 28608869. Supplemental material 2 table S1b.
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- ^ Heptner, V. G.; Sludskij, A. A. (1992) . "Lion". Mlekopitajuščie Sovetskogo Soiuza. Moskva: Vysšaia Škola [Mammals of the Soviet Union. Volume II, Part 2. Carnivora (Hyaenas and Cats)]. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution and the National Science Foundation. pp. 82–95. ISBN 90-04-08876-8.
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Last edited on 6 February 2021, at 20:28
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