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Geographic Patterns

Diversity

Distribution of mammal species in Europe
Distribution of mammal species in Europe

Patterns of mammal diversity in Europe are dramatically illustrated in the map shown here. The mountainous regions of temperate and Mediterranean Europe (including the Cantabrian mountains, Pyrenees, Massif Central, Alps, Apennines, Carpathians, and the mountains of the Balkan peninsula) clearly stand out as areas of high species richness. The whole Balkan peninsula emerges as a hotspot of mammalian diversity, highlighting the importance of the new accession countries Bulgaria and Romania for biodiversity conservation in the EU. There is a marked latitudinal gradient in species richness, with southern Europe (especially southeastern Europe) containing a greater diversity of mammal species than the north. In the marine realm, species richness is higher in the open Atlantic ocean than it is in the enclosed Baltic, Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Distribution of threatened mammal species in Europe
Distribution of theatened mammal species in Europe

Geography of Threatened Species

A map showing the distribution of threatened mammals in Europe reveals somewhat different patterns from depictions of overall species diversity. The greatest concentration of threatened species is found in the Balkan Peninsula, especially Bulgaria. This again highlights the importance of the Balkan region for mammal conservation in Europe. The Mediterranean islands of Corsica and Sardinia are also highlighted as having a high number of threatened mammal species, as well as parts of Iberia, the Pyrenees, and the Apennines. The distribution of threatened marine mammals correlates with overall marine mammal species richness – there is a higher number of threatened species in the Atlantic than in the Mediterranean, Black and Baltic Seas.

Patterns of Endemism

Distribution of endemic mammal species in Europe
Distribution of endemic mammal species in Europe

This map shows the distribution of endemic mammal species (e.g. those that are unique to Europe and are found nowhere else in the world). Endemism is particularly high in a number of mountainous regions including the Pyrenees, the Cantabrian mountains, the Alps, and the Appenines. The Italian and Iberian peninsulas also hold important concentrations of endemic mammal species.



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