INTERNATIONAL DAY OF BIODIVERSITY 2010
 

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Türkei: Artenrennen am Ömerli-Ring

Announcement

Erstaunliche Entdeckungen

Surprising discoveries

Downloads

Gallery

Announcement

Original announcement of the event on this website (April 2010)


Erstaunliche Entdeckungen

English text further below


For the GEO article in Turkish language, please go to the downloads section.


Wir kämpfen uns durchs Gebüsch, kommen kaum noch voran, der Botaniker Mecit Vural und ich. Mecit hoca ("weiser Lehrer Mecit") zeigt mir all die Pflanzen, über die ich ansonsten unbekümmert getrampelt wäre. Das bremst mich erst recht: Ich wage es kaum noch, einen Schritt zu setzen.


Da ruft jemand aus der Gruppe vor uns: „Cytinus hypocistis!“ und Mecit hoca stürmt los. Wir stoßen dazu, als Professor Adnan Erdağ das Gestrüpp teilt, um eine Pflanze mit fleischigen Trieben und orange leuchtenden Schuppen zu demonstrieren: einen "Zistrosenwürger", ein Parasit wie uns Mecit hoca belehrt. Das Ding sieht wie aus Wachs geknetet aus. Es heftet sich an die Wurzeln von Zistrosen, hübscher Blütenpflanzen, und bezieht alle Nährstoffe durch sie. Nicht mal um ein bisschen eigene Photosynthese bemüht sich der Würger – dass so was überhaupt Pflanze heißt ...


Wir befinden uns 55 Kilometer vom Zentrum Istanbuls entfernt im Wald Ömerli, dessen Stausee circa 40 Prozent des Trinkwasserbedarfs der Zwölf-Millionen-Metropole deckt. Ausgerechnet in der Nähe dieses Wasserschutzgebiets wurde Istanbuls Formel-1-Rennstrecke gebaut – an manchen Stellen türmen sich noch zerrissene Arbeiterklamotten, Stiefel, verbeulte Plastikteile und Kübel. Jetzt ist mir klar, was der Ökologe Selim Süalp Çağlar vorhin mit dem "anthropogenen Effekt" meinte. Er betrifft auch den Wald. Aus einem dichten Bestand von Buchen ist Buschland mit ein paar Eichen (Quercus frainetto, Q. cerris) geworden – mit viel Unterwuchs aus Zistrosen (Cistus salviifolius, C. creticus).


Die Natur balanciert sich auf einen neuen Zustand ein. Dies der türkischen Öffentlichkeit zu demonstrieren, hatte Adil Güner vom botanischen Garten "Nezahat Gökyiğit" im Sinn – und schlug GEO das Ömerli-Gelände vor. Am Ende des Tages liegen dafür nicht nur aus dem Reich der Pflanzen beeindruckende Zahlen vor: Auf rund vier Quadratkilometer konnten 240 Arten nachgewiesen werden – neben Vögeln, Reptilien, Insekten, Spinnen, Weichtieren, Pilzen und Blütenpflanzen auch 20 Moose – und ein Parasit.


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Surprising discoveries

We are struggling through bushes under the shade of two great oak trees. Plant specialist Mecit Vural hoca (a respectful term for ‘teacher’) is informing me about plants that at any other time I would have simply trampled underfoot. I begin treading more carefully, with a trepidation that comes with a more intimate understanding of the terrain’s vegetation cover. “Cytinus hypocistis!” shouts someone from the group ahead. “Anyone wanting to see an interesting plant should come over here,” adds Mecit hoca and, with our curiosity piqued, we run ahead.


Prof. Adnan Erdağ is parting a bush, revealing two yellowish orange clumps of flowers. It’s strange to find such a bright, colorful flower in a nook, far from the rays of the sun. Called yernarı (ground pomegranate) in Turkish, Mecit hoca declares that it is a parasite. In this case, it is firmly attached to the roots of a rockrose (Cistus) as if made of wax. Actually, it is an exaggeration to call a yernarı a plant because it consists only of a short stem and flowers. It has no need for leaves because it doesn’t photosynthesize, but feeds upon the plant it fastens itself to.


A concealed plant could only be found by Adnan Erdağ anyway. After all, he is foraging far from us in search of moss. He doesn’t pay as much attention to the parasite plant as we do. Lost amongst the bushes, we hear his voice a few meters ahead: “Aha, sweater moss!” I run head in the hope of once again seeing a fantastic plant only to find myself in the middle of a small pile of trash. It’s most likely a place where workers building the Formula 1 racetrack discarded their old clothes and tools; a littering of torn boots, shoes, sweaters, ripped shirts, deformed plastic, pails, brushes and a variety of remnants from the construction. Adnan hoca examines a blue sweater now almost completely covered in green moss.


I am seeing with my own eyes the ‘anthropogenic effect’ that ecosystem specialist Prof. Selim Süalp Çağlar had mentioned a few hours earlier. Another, different environment had formed here. The roughly 4 km2 area is indeed a terrain that serves the aim of our scientific expedition.


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Bio-inventory of a Formula 1 site

We are near the village of Göçbeyli, 55 km from the center of Istanbul, for the Biodiversity Action Day. We are conducting an inventory of biological diversity with a group of scientists in an area south of the district of Ömerli, which was recently opened up for development.


The process that brought this 13-person team of biologists, zoologist, workers and GEO Turkey volunteers together began with the United Nations’ declaration of 2010 as the Year of Biodiversity. GEO Turkey has found the Nezahat Gökyiğit Botanic Garden as partner, with the contribution of experts. Prof. Adil Güner heads the scientific team.


The choice of the location for Istanbul’s Formula 1 racetrack generated great debate, with particular criticism of constructing it in a forested area close to water reservoirs. But it is an exemplary place to demonstrate the blow to biodiversity caused by such activity. Initial work enumerated 240 types of life in an area of about 4 km2. This number is likely to rise towards 300 after detailed analyses of the samples taken. If this inventory had been taken a few decades ago, we would have obtained a much greater number.


On first sight in the morning hours, forest engineer Prof. Rahim Anşin said that the vegetation had undergone change. There should be a beech (Fagus sylvatica) forest in the area. However, it has degenerated into a sparsely populated oak grove as the result of deforestation. While Rahim hoca was explaining that most of the trees were Hungarian oak (Quercus frainetto) and that there were a few Turkey oak (Quercus cerris) here and there, we had to walk 100 to 150 meters to reach the shade of a tree where we could escape from the noonday sun.


Given this state, it was difficult to imagine a dense forest of beech trees. Even though, nature has many ways in which it restores itself. Where trees are cut down, another biological balance forms: a new system dominated by bushes and woody plants. Specialists call this plant cover ‘pseudo scrub’. It is composed mostly of rockroses (Cistus), to whose roots parasite plants attach themselves. There are two kinds of Cistus, white ones (Cistus salviifolius) and pink ones (Cistus creticus), which brighten the surroundings with their flowers.


Hours later: Specialists in insects, birds, herbaceous plants, trees and moss continually gather samples. Mollusk expert Assistant Prof Aşkın Gümüş has difficulty finding snails, which is strange because it had rained heavily the night before. A group of scientists consulting with one another, trying to identify the aquatic plants surrounding pools of water are discussing the subject. They suspect that snails are being collected in this region. We end the day with eight varieties of snail. As the sun dips to the horizon, an old cowherd grazing his cow reappears. He carefully examines our samples laid out in the tent. He warns the mushroom expert Jilber Barutçiyan: “Be careful! These are inedible. Come in another month and then you will find edible ones.”


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Downloads

Turkey_Biodiversity_October_2010.pdf

GEO coverage of Biodiversity Action Day in Istanbul and the world (GEO Turkey, October 2010, in Turkish)

1.7 M

Action_Day_Turkey_Species_found.zip

Various lists of species that were found during the Action Day in Turkey

16.4 K

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Gallery

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Photos: Can Esentaş, Tanju Günseren, Melih Kafa, Tuncay Türkeş, Selim Süalp Çağlar


Text: Haluk Kalafat