The Eurasian Region
The Eurasian Region spans half the Earth, including as it does virtually all of Scandinavia and Siberia (including the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Korean Peninsula, and islands of the northern Pacific), all of Europe (including most of the Mediterranean islands and the Anatolian and Balkan peninsulas), and much of central and western Asia. Although usually divided into two continents, Europe and Asia, this immense area is in fact a single physical complex that formed between 375 and 325 million years ago with the merging of three main landmasses. This in turn would be joined for a time to Laurentia (now North America) to form Euroamerica. Eurasia features a tremendous variety of topography, from Lake Baikal (the world’s deepest lake) to some of the world’s highest mountains. Its zones of climate range from subarctic through temperate to subtropical, and its vegetation from coniferous forest in the north through deciduous woodland, steppe, desert, and the Mediterranean maquis scrub in the central and south-western parts, to subtropical rainforests in the south-eastern parts. The great taiga is the world’s largest forest, extending from the Scandinavian Mountains in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east. Also, the steppes of Eurasia are larger than any other similar region. This extraordinary range of habitats within one continental block makes Eurasia very rich in animal species evolved over eons. The fact that this largest of continents was connected with Africa and America for long periods has also enriched the Eurasian fauna through animal migrations.
Species and subspecies
The history of the European wood bison or wisent (Bison bonasus) is almost as dramatic as that of its more famous American counterpart. A huge forest-dwelling animal, its disappearance is intimately connected with the retreat of the Eurasian deciduous forests. In prehistoric times it occurred over almost the whole of Europe east to the Lena and possibly existed in ancient Assyria, Mesopotamia, and Persia as well, which at that time were forested. Three subspecies are recognized, only one of which, the European lowland wood bison (B. b. bonasus), survives today. By the early twentieth century the latter had been reduced to a single herd of about 700 animals in the Bialowieza Forest of Poland, where they had long been protected. Because many of the animals there were tame, they became easy prey for invading troops during the First World War, who reduced the population to about 150. The last free individuals were shot in Bialowieza in 1921. Fortunately, some were preserved in zoos and their numbers were gradually built up again. But after World War II only 16 had survived in captivity at Bialowieza. They increased and in 1952 some were released back into the wild, the first to roam freely in one of Europe’s last virgin forests for over 30 years. By the close of the 1960s there were over 1000 pure European bison, of which more than 215 lived in freedom in both Bialowieza and in the Zverevskoye Forest of north-western Ukraine. Since then they have been introduced into protected areas throughout western and eastern Europe with varying degrees of success, where today the total population is around 1500. There is a similar number in captivity worldwide.
The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species of deer. A number of subspecies are found across North America and north-eastern Asia, a few of which are threatened.
The reindeer (Rangifer tarandus), previously discussed in this volume, is a type of deer with a circumpolar distribution that has adapted itself to a number of different environments. While not threatened as a species a number of Eurasian subspecies are, and will be discussed below.
The Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) had at one time a wide range in the sparse forests south and east of the Black and Caspian seas, although the Pontic-Caspian steppe and into the deserts of central Asia. By the late 1960s intensive hunting and habitat destruction had wiped them out in most of these areas, and only a handful survived. It was last recorded in the early 1970s, and is now considered extinct. The Siberian or Amur tiger (P. t. altaica), the largest of all the big cats, was formerly found throughout eastern Siberia, Mongolia, Manchuria, and the wooded parts of northern China, where it was adapted to the deep winter snows. Today it is confined to the Amur-Ussuri region in far-eastern Siberia, with the exception of a small population in Hunchun National Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve in north-eastern China, near the border with North Korea. In 2015 there was an estimated population of 480–540 in the Russian Far East.
The Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is confined to cold regions of the Russian Far East and north-eastern China, having disappeared from its former range on the Korean Peninsula. Among the world’s rarest animals, the total population is thought to be less than 100.
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is found across most of Europe and Asia and is not considered threatened as a species, although many populations, particularly in southern areas, are isolated and at risk.
The European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) inhabits forests across continental Europe from the Iberian Peninsula to Turkey and the Caucasus, but has become uncommon everywhere. A small number remain in the Scottish Highlands, but the species has otherwise been extirpated from the British Isles. While legally protected, they are frequently mistaken for feral cats and shot, and interbreeding with domestic cats is an additional threat.
The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is, as a species, found across much of North America and northern Eurasia, where it has manifested into a number of subspecies. A few will be discussed below.
The Mongolian marmot (Marmota sibirica), as a species, is found in a variety of habitats in east-central Asia. The steppe Mongolian marmot (M. s. sibirica) occurs in southern Russia, Mongolia, and northern China, while the montane Mongolian marmot (M. s. caliginosus) occurs in northern, western, and central Mongolia. Both are threatened by loss of habitat and hunting for their meat and pelts.
The Spanish imperial eagle (Aquila adalberti) is, at least in terms of breeding, entirely endemic to montane and lowland woodlands in the Iberian Peninsula of central and southwestern Spain and adjacent parts of Portugal. Resident, nonbreeding populations were at least historically to be found in Morocco and perhaps elsewhere in North Africa, although the species now appears to be largely a vagrant in these areas. It has recovered from a low of only 30 breeding pairs in the 1960s to an estimated 486 pairs by 2016, but remains particularly vulnerable to electrocution by poorly insulated powerlines, as well as by loss of habitat and persecution.
Blakiston’s eagle-owl (Bubo blakistoni) is the largest living owl. There are two recognized subspecies, both of which are threatened by loss of their preferred riverine forest habitat. The mainland subspecies (B. b. doerriesi) is found in the forests and coastal mountain ranges of eastern Siberia, eastern China, and the Korean border area, including Sakhalin Island (although there has not been a verified record from there since 1974).
The hooded crane (Grus monacha) breeds in south-central and south-eastern Siberia, a small area of north-eastern China (Heilongjiang), and perhaps Mongolia. The majority of the population, estimated in 2015 at roughly 15,000, winters in southern Japan, with smaller numbers in south-eastern China and South Korea.
The yellow-eyed pigeon (Columba eversmanni) breeds in southern Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, north-eastern Iran, and extreme north-western China, from where it migrates to Pakistan and north-western India. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries huge flocks were reported in its wintering grounds, particularly in the Punjab. The species declined rapidly thereafter due to loss of habitat and intensive hunting.
The rustic bunting (Emberiza rustica) has a massive distribution, breeding across the Palearctic from Norway to Kamchatka, from where it migrates south in winter to central and eastern Asia. Nevertheless, in recent decades the global population has declined dramatically, most likely due to increased logging in its breeding range and to large-scale trapping combined with increasing agriculture in its nonbreeding range.
The streaked reed warbler (Acrocephalus sorghophilus) is known from a few records originating within a small area of north-eastern China, and Taiwan, from where the species (at least historically) wintered on Luzon in the Philippines. Its breeding range remains unknown. The white-browed reed warbler (A. tangorum) breeds in south-eastern Russia and north-eastern China, from where it winters in southern Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Peninsular Malaysia. The species is everywhere threatened by loss of its swampy grassland habitat.
Carbonell’s wall lizard (Podarcis carbonelli) is a rare species whose nominate subspecies (P. c. carbonelli) occurs in highly fragmented populations in western and central Portugal, extending slightly into west-central and southwestern Spain.
The Iberian Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei latastei) occurs in both Spain and Portugal south of the Pyrenees, where it is threatened due to loss of habitat and direct persecution by humans.
Mountains and Highlands
With few exceptions, the great mountain chains of Eurasia run from west to east across the two continents. Many of them form massive barriers between well-distinguished biogeographic regions. They also serve as enormous refuges for plants and animals that have been exterminated elsewhere, or have been driven by advancing cultivation into remote montane areas.
The Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus) is confined to the mountainous regions of eastern Albania and western North Macedonia, with smaller populations in Kosovo and Montenegro. Long threatened by illegal hunting, the total number is thought to be less than 50.
The mouflon (Ovis gmelini) and its many subspecies are a group wild sheep and the ancestors of all domestic sheep (O. aries). Today it inhabits steep mountainous woodlands of the Near and Middle East, although historically the range extended further to the Crimean Peninsula and the Balkans. Populations were long ago introduced to a number of islands in the Mediterranean, perhaps as feral domesticated animals, where they have naturalized to the hilly interiors and given rise to arguably distinct forms. Those from the islands of Corsica and Sardinia are commonly known as the European mouflon (O. g. musimon), having been subsequently introduced to parts of mainland Europe as well. Like all mouflon this subspecies has been heavily depleted by hunting for its meat and horns. The Transcaspian mouflon (O. g. arkal) is found in western Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and north-eastern Iran. In the mid-1970s the total population was estimated at over 20,000, of which around 15,000 lived in Golestan National Park in Iran. The Bukhara mouflon (O. g. bocharensis) is found in Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Afghan mouflon (O. g. cycloceros) is found in southern Turkmenistan, eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan. The Armenian mouflon (O. g. gmelini) is found in north-western Iran, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
Another type of wild sheep is the argali (Ovis ammon). Several subspecies are found in the mountains and deserts of central Asia, where they are heavily hunted. The North China argali (O. a. jubata) is confined to a few pockets in northern China. Severtzov’s argali (O. a. severtzovi) is known only from a small area of southern Uzbekhistan. The Karaganda argali (O. a. collium) is confined to the low hills of central and eastern Kazakhstan. The Gobi argali (O. a. darwini) is confined to a few areas of northern China and Mongolia.
The markhor (Capra falconeri) is a large, typically screwhorned wild goat found patchily in the mountains of westcentral Asia. Several subspecies are threatened by loss of habitat, domestic grazing herds and intensive hunting. The Astore markhor (C. f. falconeri) is confined to parts of northeastern Afghanistan (Kunar and Nuristan), northern Pakistan, and northern India (Jammu and Kashmir). The Bukharan markhor (C. f. heptneri) occurs in parts of north-eastern Afghanistan, southern Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and southern Uzbekistan. The straight-horned markhor (C. f. megaceros) survives in parts of north-eastern Afghanistan (Kabul, Parwan, and Paktia provinces) and central Pakistan (Baluchistan and Punjab provinces).
The Iberian ibex (Capra pyrenaica) is another species of wild goat that historically occurred throughout the mountainous areas of the Iberian Peninsula and south-western France. Of the four described subspecies, two are now extinct. The Portuguese ibex (C. p. lusitanica) was still abundant at the end of the eighteenth century, ranging in all the north-western mountains of Portugal, Galicia, Asturias, and western Cantabria. Thereafter its decline was rapid as hunting pressure increased for its meat, hides, horns, and bezoar stones, which local people erroneously believed to have medicinal properties. By 1870 it was rare. The last herd, about a dozen animals, was reported in 1886. An old female was captured alive in 1889, but only survived three days. Two more were found dead the following year in Galicia, victims of an avalanche. The last known individual in Spain died in 1890, and the last sighting was in the Serra do Gerês, Portugal, in 1892. A mounted specimen was on display in the Bocage Museum, Lisbon, until destroyed by fire in 1978. The Pyrenean ibex (C. p. pyrenaica) was once abundant on both sides of the Pyrenees as well as in the Cantabrian Mountains of southern France. It too was severely persecuted by hunters and decreased rapidly during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Competition with domesticated sheep, goats, cattle, and horses also contributed to the decline. It was long thought to have gone extinct in the 1910s, until a small population of around 20 was discovered in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in the Spanish central Pyrenees. By 1989 only a dozen or so were left. The last individual, a female named ‘Celia’, was bizarrely killed by a fallen tree on 6 January 2000. In recent years there have been attempts made to clone this individual and thereby make the Pyrenean ibex ‘unextinct’, although it would seem that modern scientific expertise cannot overcome the lack of a male cell donor.
Two species of chamois (Rupicapra), a kind of goatantelope, inhabit the mountains of Eurasia. The southern chamois (R. pyrenaica) is divided into three subspecies inhabiting south-western Europe. The Pyrenean chamois (R. p. pyrenaica) and Cantabrian chamois (R. p. parva) were both nearly hunted to extinction by the 1940s, but have since recovered their numbers and are no longer considered threatened. A third remains highly endangered and is discussed elsewhere. The northern chamois (R. rupicapra) is, as a species, common and widespread in the mountains of central and southern Europe and Asia Minor. However, several subspecies are considered to be highly threatened. The Balkan chamois (R. r. balcanica) inhabits most of the mountainous regions of Albania, as well as Bulgaria’s four main massifs. In Greece it is confined to a few widely scattered populations.
The gorals (Naemorhedus) are a group of small goatantelopes confined to the mountainous regions of Asia, where they have been much reduced by hunting. The long-tailed goral (N. caudatus) is found patchily in eastern Russia (Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories) and north-eastern China, with a small population living in the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean Peninsula.
The Eurasian musk deer (Moschus moschiferus) is still found over a wide area of north-eastern Asia in suitable montane taiga habitat, but has been much reduced by hunting. The Siberian musk deer (M. m. moschiferus) occurs in the Russian Far East, Mongolia, and northern China (Xinjiang, Heilongjiang, and Inner Mongolia). Turov’s musk deer (M. m. turovi) is confined to an area of the Russian Far East. The Verkhoyansk Ridge musk deer (M. m. arcticus) is confined to the Verkhoyansk Range in the East Siberian Mountains. The Korean musk deer (M. m. parvipes) is found in north-western China and the Korean Peninsula.
Pikas (Ochotona) are small, mountain-dwelling relatives of rabbits. Hoffmann’s pika (O. hoffmanni) is known only from two, widely separated localities (the Bayan-Ulan Ridge in northern Mongolia and the Erman Mountains of south-eastern Russia). The Korean pika (O. coreana) is confined to the mountains of north-eastern China (Jilin) and north-eastern North Korea.
The woolly dormouse (Dryomys laniger) is largely confined to the Taurus Mountains of southern Anatolia, Turkey, along with a few isolated localities in north-eastern Anatolia.
The Balkan snow vole (Dinaromys bogdanovi) is a ‘living fossil’ from isolated, mountainous regions of the Balkans, where it may be threatened by competition with the European snow vole (Chionomys nivalis).
Schaub’s mouse-eared bat (Myotis schaubi) is a rare species known only from a few localities within the southern Caucasus Mountains of Armenia, and from the north-western Zagros Mountains of Iran. Fossils indicate that it historically ranged in Russia and Hungary as well.
The Iberian rock lizard (Iberolacerta monticola) is found patchily in the highlands of north-western Spain and central Portugal.
The Spanish keeled lizard (Algyroides marchi) is confined to a few isolated localities in the Alcaraz, Cazorla, and Segura ranges of south-eastern Spain.
Darevsky’s viper (Vipera darevskii) is known only from Armenia and possibly two localities in eastern Turkey.
The Kurdistan newt (Neurergus derjugini) is known only from a small area of the Avroman Mountains in western Iran (Kermanshah province), but may occur in adjacent northeastern Iraq as well. Its breeding streams have been seriously impacted by drought, water extraction and pollution, and the species is still collected for the international pet trade. The Urmia newt (N. crocatus) is confined to the mountains west of Lake Urmia in northern Iraq, south-eastern Turkey, and (at least historically) north-western Iran. It is threatened mainly by dam construction. The Anatolian newt (N. strauchii) is divided into two subspecies found in the mountains of eastern Turkey. Strauch’s newt (N. s. strauchii) is confined to streams south and west of Lake Van, while Baran’s newt (N. s. barani) is known from a few areas near the town of Pütürge.
The golden-striped salamander (Chioglossa lusitanica) is confined to the highlands of north-western Spain and northern and central Portugal, where it is dependent upon streams. Two subspecies have been described, the Lusitanian golden-striped salamander (C. l. lusitanica) and the long-footed goldenstriped salamander (C. l. longipes).
The Caucasian salamander (Mertensiella caucasica) is found in north-western Anatolia (Turkey) and western Georgia, where it is threatened by loss of habitat.
Bejara’s fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra bejarae) is confined to the mountains of north-central Spain.
The Alps are the highest and most extensive mountain range lying entirely within Europe, stretching approximately 1200 km across eight countries (France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia). The mountains were formed over tens of millions of years as the African and Eurasian tectonic plates collided. At 4810 m Mont Blanc, which spans the French–Italian border, is the highest, but the alpine region contains around a hundred peaks higher than 4000 m. This extreme altitude and size greatly affect the climate of Europe. Generally speaking, they can be divided into two main subranges, the Eastern and Western Alps, separated in eastern Switzerland near the Splügen Pass. A series of lower ranges run parallel to the main chain of the Alps, including the French Prealps and the Jura Mountains.
The alpine ibex (Capra ibex) had been driven to the point of extinction in the early nineteenth century, but was saved thanks to conservation efforts chiefly by the Italians. The species is now considered safe in Italy, with populations reintroduced to Austria, France, Germany, and Switzerland and new ones established in Bulgaria and Slovenia.
Two subspecies of northern chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), previously mentioned in the general section, are found within in this region. The alpine chamois (R. r. rupicapra) occurs in the Alps of Austria, Germany, and eastern France, where it is threatened mainly by poaching and overhunting. The Chartreuse chamois (R. r. cartusiana) is confined to the Chartreuse limestone massif near Grenoble, on the western edge of the French Alps.
The Bavarian pine vole (Microtus bavaricus) is known only from Rofan Mountain, in the northern Tyrol of Austria.
Lanza’s alpine salamander (Salamandra lanzai) is confined to a small area of the Western Alps on the border between Italy and France.
Mountains of Central Asia
The mountains of Central Asia, as here defined, are those ranges bordering the Tibetan Plateau to the north and west, spanning parts of Afghanistan, western China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Together they provide a diversity of habitats including montane grasslands, meadows, temperate coniferous forests, and alpine tundra.
The northern wild dog (Cuon alpinus hesperius) is known from the Altai and Tian Shan mountains, possibly extending to the Pamir Mountains and Kashmir. It was historically much more widespread.
Two subspecies of Tarbagan marmot (Marmota sibirica) are found in high-elevation steppe and alpine meadow areas of Central Asia. The Khentii marmot (M. s. sibirica) is confined to the Khentii Mountains of north-eastern Mongolia (Tuv and Khentii provinces). The Mongolian marmot (S. s. caliginosus) is still relatively widespread in south-western Russia (southwestern Siberia, Tuva, and Transbaikalia), north-eastern China (Inner Mongolia and Heilongiiang), and western Mongolia, but is everywhere suffering massive declines.
The white-throated bushchat (Saxicola insignis) is a type of passerine bird that breeds very locally in the mountains of Mongolia and adjacent areas of south-central Russia, from where it migrates to the grasslands of northern India and Nepal. Formerly common, it is now rare in its wintering range due to loss of habitat.
The Turkestanian salamander (Hynobius turkestanicus) is known only from a few specimens collected in 1909 from an imprecise locality in central Asia, but thought to be somewhere in eastern Uzbekistan or southern Kyrgyzstan.
The Tian Shan Mountains
The Tian Shan Mountains is a large system of central Asian mountain ranges located in north-western China (Xinjiang), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan.
The Tian Shan argali (Ovis ammon karelini) is a type of wild sheep that, as here defined, is confined to the Tian Shan Mountains.
Menzbier’s marmot (Marmota menzbieri) inhabits highelevation meadows and steppe within the western Tian Shan Mountains, where its range is divided into two separate pockets separated by more than 100 km. It is threatened by habitat loss due to agriculture.
The Ili pika (Ochotona iliensis) is confined to a few highelevation areas on two spurs of the Tian Shan Mountains in China, where the total population is thought to be less than 1000.
The Central Asian salamander (Ranodon sibiricus) is a rare species confined to the Dzungarian Alatau Ridge on the border between China and Kazakhstan. The range is extremely fragmented due to the scarcity of suitable habitat (i.e. flat, high-elevation plateaus with a dense network of permanent streams).
The Karakoram Range
The Karakoram is a large mountain range spanning the borders of northern Pakistan, western China, and northeastern India, with the north-western extremity extending into north-eastern Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It includes K2, the second highest mountain in the world.
The woolly flying squirrel (Eupetaurus cinereus) was originally known from a few skins collected in extreme northern Pakistan, in the portion of Kashmir under Pakistani control, and from northern Sikkim (India). Thought to be extinct for 70 years, it was rediscovered in small numbers in 2004.
The Pamir Mountains
The Pamir Mountains are located at the junction of the Himalayas with the Tian Shan, Kunlun, Hindu Kush, Suleman, and Hindu Raj ranges. They are among the world’s highest.
The Marco Polo argali (Ovis ammon polii) is a type of wild sheep found mainly in the Pamir Mountains. It is threatened mainly by trophy hunters, who prize its large, spiralling horns.
The Alay Mountains
Also known as the Alai Mountains, this range runs roughly east to west in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The Alay mole vole (Ellobius alaicus) is known only from a small area of high-elevation meadow steppe in the Alay Mountains, south Kyrgyzstan.
The Altai Mountains
The Altai Mountains are located in central and east East Asia where Russia, China, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan come together.
The Altai argali (Ovis ammon ammon) is the largest of all wild sheep and possesses the heaviest horns. It is confined to the higher elevations of the Altai Mountains, where not surprisingly it is heavily hunted.
The Caucasus Mountains
Located between the Caspian and Black seas, the Caucasus Mountains straddle south-eastern Europe and central Asia. They are comprised of the Greater Caucasus in the north and the Lesser Caucasus in the south.
The Caucasian wood bison (Bison bonasus caucasicus) was an inhabitant of the wooded slopes and valley meadows of the Caucasus. It will perhaps never be known how long this subspecies had been isolated from its relative, the European lowland wood bison (B. b. bonasus), which once roamed the forest steppes and woods of lowland Europe. What we know of the Caucasian wood bison goes back only as far as 150 years ago. In 1914 there were about 500 such animals in the Caucasus, but persecution drove them higher and higher up into unsuitable habitats, and by 1925 they were reported to be extinct in the wild. However, in 1940, some captive specimens that were at least partly of Caucasian ancestry were brought to a large enclosure on the northern, forested slopes of the Caucasus. In 1954 a small herd was set free and has been strictly protected since then. In the scientific sense, however, the pure Caucasian bison must be considered extinct.
The Caucasian lynx (Lynx lynx dinniki) was formerly distributed throughout much of south-western Asia, but is now confined to the northern Caucasus Mountains.
The Greater Caucasus
The Greater Caucasus Mountains are located in south-western Russia, northern Georgia, and northern Azerbaijan.
The West Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica) is a large, heavy-set goat confined to a few localities in the western part of the Greater Caucasus Mountains.
The Caucasian chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra caucasica) is confined to the Greater Caucasus.
Birch mice (Sicista) are a group of small, jumping rodents. The Caucasian birch mouse (S. caucasica) and the Kazbeg birch mouse (S. kazbegica) are both confined to the Greater Caucasus of Georgia and Russia.
The subalpine meadow wall lizard (Darevskia alpina) is confined to a narrow belt of subalpine meadows in the Greater Caucasus of Georgia and Russia.
Two species of viper (Vipera) are endemic to the Greater Caucasus, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and degradation, overcollection for the international pet trade, and human persecution. The magnificent viper (V. magnifica) is confined to a small area of south-western Russia. The Caucasus subalpine viper (V. dinniki) is known from southwestern Russia, northern Georgia and northern Azerbaijan.
The Lesser Caucasus
The Lesser Caucasus Mountains are located in southern Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The Armenian birch mouse (Sicista armenica) is known only from a few subalpine meadows in north-central Armenia.
The Armenian mouse-eared bat (Myotis hajastanicus) is a rare and possibly extinct species known only from the Lake Sevan basin in Armenia.
Rostombekov’s wall lizard (Darevskia rostombekovi) is known from a few isolated subpopulations in northern Armenia and western Azerbaijan.
The Armenian Plateau
The Armenian Plateau (also known as the Armenian Highlands) is located to the west of the Anatolian Plateau in Armenia, Azerbaijan, north-western Iran, and eastern Turkey (eastern Anatolia).
Uzzell’s wall lizard (Darevskia uzzelli) and the Bendimahi wall lizard (D. bendimahiensis) are both confined to small areas of north-eastern Turkey.
Pleske’s racerunner (Eremias pleskei) is a type of lizard confined to sandy, semi-desert areas of the Armenian Plateau. It is seriously threatened by habitat destruction.
The Armenian steppe viper (Vipera eriwanensis) is found patchily in north-eastern Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
The Pontic Mountains
The Pontic Mountains are located in north-eastern Turkey and south-western Georgia.
Clarks’ wall lizard (Darevskia clarkorum) is confined to the Pontic Mountains.
The Black Sea viper (Vipera pontica) is known only from the Coruh River valley in north-eastern Turkey (Artvin province) and from an additional specimen found in a tea plantation near the Turkish–Georgian border.
The Taurus Mountains
The Taurus Mountains are located in southern Turkey, where they separate the Mediterranean coastal region from the central Anatolian Plateau.
The Anatolian meadow viper (Vipera anatolica) is known only from a single locality in south-western Turkey.
The Taurus frog (Rana holtzi) is confined to a small area of high montane lakes in the Bolkar Range, where it is highly threatened by habitat disturbance and introduced carp.
The Apennine Mountains
The Apennines are a range consisting of smaller parallel chains extending some 1200 km along the length of peninsular Italy. Its system of national parks contains some of the bestpreserved montane forests and grasslands on the continent.
The Apennine chamois (Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata) has probably been rare for centuries, its numbers only starting to increase in 1920s as a result of increased protection. They plummeted again to just a few dozen in Abruzzo National Park during World War II, but have slowly recovered since then. Today three small populations, numbering perhaps around 1100, survive in the Abruzzo, Majella, and Gran Sasso-Monti della Laga national parks.
The Pyrenees Mountains
The Pyrenees are a range of mountains in south-western Europe forming a natural boundary between Spain and France.
Two species of rock lizard (Iberolacerta) endemic to the Pyrenees are threatened by loss of habitat and collection for the international pet trade. The Aran rock lizard (I. aranica) was long thought to be confined to the Mauberme Massif in the central Pyrenees, but in 2006 a new population was discovered in Mont Valier (France). Aurelio’s rock lizard (I. aurelioi) is restricted to a small part of the border area of Andorra, France, and Spain, with the majority of the population living in the latter country.
The Pyrenean frog (Rana pyrenaica) is largely confined to the southern slopes of the west-central Pyrenees, where it is threatened by loss of habitat and introduced species.
The Cantabrian Mountains
The Cantabrian Mountains stretch east to west for over 300 km across northern Spain.
The broom hare (Lepus castroviejoi) is confined to an area of the Cantabrian Mountains, where it occupies a small elevational range of between 1000 and 1900 m.
The Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus) is a type of grouse that formerly ranged the length of the Cantabrian Mountains, but is now confined to a few areas of north-western Spain. In 2006 the total population was estimated at around 625.
The Carpathian Mountains
The second longest mountain range in Europe, the Carpathians form an arc roughly 1500 km in length across central and eastern Europe.
The Carpathian wood bison (Bison bonasus hungarorum) historically occurred in the Carpathian Mountains of Moldova and Romania, and perhaps Hungary and Ukraine as well. It began to die out in the eighteenth century due to overhunting, with the last known specimen being shot in 1852. There are currently plans to introduce European wood bison from Poland or the Caucasus into Transylvania.
The Carpathian lynx (Lynx lynx carpathicus) is found in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary, where it is threatened by poaching and loss of habitat. A further population was introduced into Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia during the 1970s.
The Carpathian chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra carpatica) occurs in many populations throughout the Carpathian Mountains and Transylvanian Alps, where there have been a number of successful reintroductions.
The Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains are a subrange of the Carpathian Mountains forming a natural border between Poland and Slovakia.
The Tatra Mountains chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica) is confined to the Tatra Mountains.
Miscellaneous Mountains and Highlands
The Scandinavian Mountains, as their name suggests, are a range that run through the Scandinavian Peninsula. The mountains are ancient and not very high but steep in places, with the western slopes dropping precipitously into the North and Norwegian seas, forming fjords. By contrast, in the northeast they curve gradually towards Finland. The combination of northerly location and ocean moisture has resulted in numerous ice fields and glaciers. Vegetation is typically montane birch forests and grasslands.
The mountain reindeer (Rangifer tarandus tarandus) is found only in the montane tundra regions of the Fennoscandian Peninsula, Norway.
The Dinaric Alps are located in southern Croatia, northern Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
The Mosor rock lizard (Dinarolacerta mosorensis) is confined to a few isolated populations in the south-western Dinaric Mountains.
The Pindus Mountains are located in western Greece and southern Albania.
The Greek meadow viper (Vipera graeca) is confined to the subalpine regions of the Hellenides mountain system of southern Albania and central Greece.
The Catalan Pre-Coastal Range is located in north-eastern Spain.
The Montseny brook newt (Calotriton arnoldi) is confined to the El Montseny Massif, where it is only known in seven mountains streams within the boundaries of El Montseny Natural Park.
The Central Cordillera (Sistema Central in Spanish and Portuguese) is located in west-central Spain and east-central Portugal.
Cyrn’s rock lizard (Iberolacerta cyreni) and Martinez-Rica’s rock lizard (I. martinezricai) are both confined to the Central Cordillera.
The Sierra Nevada Mountains are located in south-eastern Spain.
The Betic midwife toad (Alytes dickhilleni) is confined to a few localities within the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The Penibaetic Mountains are located in southern coastal Spain.
The long-snouted fire salamander (Salamandra longirostris) is confined to a small area of southern Spain.
The Karatau Mountains are located in southern Kazakhstan.
The Kara Tau argali (Ovis ammon nigrimontana) is a type of wild sheep confined to the Karatau Mountains.
The Helan Mountains (Helan Shan in Chinese, and formerly known as the Alashan Mountains) are an isolated, desert mountain range located in south-eastern Inner Mongolia.
The silver pika (Ochotona argentata) is confined to a small area of the Helan Mountains.
The Anatolian Plateau rises from the lowland coast of the Aegean Sea and eventually converges with the Armenian Highlands to the east of Cappadocia. Its highest point is the dormant stratovolcano Mount Ararat.
Wagner’s mountain viper (Montivipera wagneri) is confined to eastern Turkey (Kars, Erzurum, and Agr provinces). The central Turkish mountain viper (M. albizona) is confined to two localities in central Anatolia (Sivas and Kahramanmaras provinces). Both are threatened by overcollection for the international exotic animal trade.
Lowland Boreal Forests
Boreal forests, also known as taiga, exist as a nearly continuous belt of mainly coniferous trees interspersed with lakes, bogs, and heaths stretching across both Eurasia and North America. In Eurasia it covers most of Sweden and Finland, much of Norway, some of the Scottish Highlands and the coastal lowlands of Iceland, much of Russia from Karelia in the west to the Pacific (including most of Siberia), and parts of northern Kazakhstan, northern Mongolia, and northern Japan (Hokkaido). Up until relatively recently these immense forests were largely untouched by humans, although in recent decades the southern areas in particular have begun to be conquered. Many animal species have been driven away as a result, retreating to montane regions or more remote areas of forest. On the other hand, some species have been favoured by the opening up of the coniferous forests and the replacement of parts of it by a secondary growth of mixed forests or cultivated areas.
The Kamchatka brown bear (Ursus arctos beringianus), the largest bear in Eurasia, is found in the Kamchatka region and a few offshore islands. While the population remains fairly intact the animals are heavily hunted, both legally and otherwise, for their fur and gallbladder as well as for ‘sport’.
The Finnish forest reindeer (Rangifer tarandus fennicus) is today confined to north-western Russia (Karelia) and adjacent parts of Finland, where it migrates seasonally between the two countries. As late as 1750 it ranged over the greater part of the Finnish taiga eastward to the Ural Mountains. It was exterminated in Finland due to hunting and forest loss between 1880 and 1910, but returned spontaneously in small numbers during the mid-twentieth century after habitat disturbances in the Russian part of its range. In 1970 the total population was thought to number only a few hundred, although numbers have since increased to several thousand. Other Eurasian reindeer subspecies facing similar threats are the Busk reindeer (R. t. buskensis) from northern Russia, the Kamchatkan reindeer (R. t. phylarchus) from the Kamchatka Peninsula and regions bordering the Sea of Okhotsk and the Siberian forest reindeer (R. t. valentinae) from the forests of the Ural and Altai Mountains.
The long-tailed birch mouse (Sicista caudata) is a relatively widespread but naturally rare species from north-eastern China (Heilongjiang and Jilin), the Ussuri region of Far Eastern Russia and Sakhalin Island.
Lowland Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Three or four thousand years ago, temperate deciduous and mixed forests covered a vast area from the British Isles and the northern Iberian Peninsula in the west across central Europe and eastward in a narrowing strip far into Siberia and the Korean Peninsula. Almost the same type of forest existed in China, Manchuria, and Japan. Stone Age men had burned and cut here and there, but it was not until farming spread in central Europe and Asia that the forests began to disappear. Industrialization combined with growing human populations caused them to retreat at an ever-accelerating rate. With the forests went many of the larger carnivores and also several hoofed animals. Several mammals belonging to forest regions of Eurasia have vanished forever.
Two highly threatened subspecies of Central Asian red deer (Cervus hanglu) inhabit forested river valleys in Central Asia. The Bactrian deer (C. h. bactrianus) is found in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan. Its range and numbers were much reduced during the 1960s due to persecution and the destruction of riverine vegetation, but conservation activities have succeeded in restoring it to much of its former range. The Yarkand deer (C. h. yarkandensis) shares a similar type of habitat in the valleys of the Tarim, Konqi, and Qarqan rivers of northwestern China (Xinjiang). In the 1960s it was described as very rare, but precise information about its status continues to be lacking.
The water deer (Hydropotes inermis), so-named for its preference for riverine areas, is small with notably prominent canines and an absence of antlers. There are two subspecies. The Korean water deer (H. i. argyropus) was historically found along the western coast of the Korean Peninsula and into north-eastern China (Jilin and Liaoning). It has since been extirpated from the latter country.
The Muisk vole (Microtus mujanensis) is known only from the Muya Valley in east-central Siberia.
The greater noctule bat (Nyctalus lasiopterus) is found in scattered populations across central and southern Europe from the Iberian Peninsula to the Urals, where it favours deciduous forests. A tree-roosting species, it is threatened mainly by deforestation.
The Charnali wall lizard (Darevskia dryada) is confined to lowland forests of the Black Sea coastal region (north-eastern Turkey and possibly south-western Georgia), where it is threatened by deforestation.
Kaznakov’s viper (Vipera kaznakovi) is confined to the Black Sea coast and forested foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, where is it threatened by overcollection for the international pet trade and loss of habitat.
Two species of Asian salamander (Hynobius) endemic to the Korean Peninsula are threatened by loss of habitat. The Kori salamander (H. yangi) is confined to forests in southeastern South Korea (Gyeongsang province). The Cheju salamander (H. quelpaertensis) is known from the southern tip of South Korea, where it occurs on both the mainland as well as on the islands of Chindo and Cheju.
Lowland Mediterranean Forests, Woodlands, and Scrub
Areas of lowland Mediterranean forest, woodland, and scrub within the Eurasian region extend from the Iberian Peninsula to the Levant, and include the Mediterranean Islands.
The Anatolian leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana) was a little-known form native to south-western Turkey. It was last recorded in the mid-1970s, and is now considered extinct.
The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) was historically distributed over large areas of the Iberian Peninsula and southern France, but habitat destruction, particularly deforestation, along with sharp declines in rabbit populations and human persecution reduced it to two separate regions. In 1950 the northern population still extended from the Mediterranean to Galicia and parts of northern Portugal, while the southern included suitable habitat in central and southern Spain. By the end of the twentieth century, however, it had been reduced to just two small subpopulations (in the mountains of southcentral Spain and the coastal plains of the south-west, respectively), numbering perhaps around 100 animals in total. Since then, a number of conservation measures have been implemented in both Spain and Portugal including a captive breeding programme, habitat restorations, and limited translocations and reintroductions.
The Italian hare (Lepus corsicanus) occurs in southern Italy and on the islands of Elba, Sicily, and Corsica (where it was introduced by humans but has since been largely extirpated). It has declined due to habitat destruction, hunting, and competition from introduced species.
The Mersin spiny mouse (Acomys cilicicus) is known only from a small area of coastal rocky scrubland in southern Anatolia, Turkey.
Roach’s mouse-tailed dormouse (Myomimus roachi) is known only from scattered records across western coastal Turkey, south-eastern Bulgaria, and possibly eastern Greece, although fossil material indicates that it was historically much more widespread.
Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) is confined to southern Europe, where it is divided into two subspecies. The western Hermann’s tortoise (T. h. hermanni) is found in eastern Spain, southern France, central Italy, the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, and Sicily. The eastern Hermann’s tortoise (T. h. boettgeri) is found in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey, and Greece. Both are threatened by overcollection for the international pet trade.
Orlov’s viper (Vipera orlovi) is confined to a small area of the Black Sea coast in south-western Russia, where it is threatened by overcollection for the international pet trade.
The bay Lycian salamander (Lyciasalamandra billae), Antalya Lycian salamander (L. antalyana), Marmaris Lycian salamander (L. flavimembris), and Atif’s Lycian salamander (L. atifi) are all confined to small areas of coastal south-western Turkey, where they are threatened by habitat destruction and overcollection. Fazila’s Lycian salamander (L. fazilae) is confined to south-western coastal Turkey and to the islands of Tersane and Domuz. Luschan’s Lycian salamander (L. luschani) is divided into two subspecies, the nominate form of which (L. l. luschani) is confined to a small area of coastal south-western Turkey.
The Eurasian steppe consists of vast temperate plains stretching across much of central Asia from Eastern Europe to Manchuria. To the north they are bounded by boreal forests. There is no clear southern boundary, although the land becomes increasingly dry as one moves south. The steppe narrows at two points, thereby dividing it into three major parts. All are covered by more or less dense herbaceous vegetation, sometimes with bushes but usually with no trees except along rivers. In the past they were inhabited by wild herds of large mammals, mainly horses and asses, adapted to this special habitat, now mostly depleted by hunting. More recently steppes have come under increasing threat due to agricultural development.
The Eurasian wild horse or tarpan (Equus ferus ferus) historically ranged from Spain to central Russia. Its human caused extinction began in southern Europe, possibly in antiquity. Humans had been hunting wild horses continually for meat since the Palaeolithic, just as areas of available habitat for these large herbivores were continually being lost due to the advent of civilization. The subspecies held out longest on the steppes of southern Russia and Ukraine, where it was still living as late as the nineteenth century. By then most ‘tarpans’ had become hybrids, having long interbred with domestic horses, and true wild horses were already very rare by 1880. After that only dubious sightings were documented. The last true tarpan mare was accidentally killed during an attempt to capture her, and the last known individual of all died in captivity on an estate near Poltava in 1909. The story did not end there, however. Beginning in the 1930s several attempts were made to develop horses that looked like tarpans by way of selective breeding. These ‘bred back’ animals do have a superficial resemblance to the extinct form, but cannot be said to be true Eurasian wild horses.
The Western or Pontic–Caspian Steppe begins near the mouth of the Danube and extends north-east almost to Kazan and then south-east to the southern tip of the Ural Mountains. Its northern edge was a broad band of forest steppe (a mosaic of deciduous forests and grasslands) that has now been entirely destroyed by conversion to agriculture. Most of the original large animals have also long-since been exterminated.
The European ground squirrel (Spermophilus citellus) is found in central and south-eastern Europe where it is dependent upon short turf in order to construct its colonial tunnel systems. The species has adapted somewhat to artificial habitat such as pastures, golf courses, and parks, but has nevertheless been eliminated from many parts of its range.
The Podolian mole-rat (Spalax zemni) has a patchy distribution in Ukraine where it is threatened by habitat destruction.
The Anatolian vole (Microtus anatolicus) is confined to an isolated area of steppe in central-western Turkey (Konya province).
The Pannonian Steppe is an enclave separated from the main Eurasian Steppe by the mountains of Transylvania. It is located mainly in Hungary but also includes parts of Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, and Croatia.
The Pannonian viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara pannonica) is confined to a small area of Austria and Hungary.
The Romanian meadow viper (Vipera ursinii moldavica) and Orsini’s meadow viper (V. u. rakosiensis) are both rare and threatened by overcollection for the international pet trade.
The greatest grass steppe in the world, the Central or Kazakh Steppe extends from the Urals to Dzungaria (north-western China), where it narrows between the Tian Shan and Altai Mountains. To the south it grades off into semi-desert and desert.
The saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica) historically inhabited a vast area of Eurasian steppe and semi-desert from the foothills of the Carpathian and Caucasus Mountains to Mongolia and north-western China. Two subspecies are recognized. The Russian saiga antelope (S. t. tatarica) is by far the more widespread, but its original range has been much reduced due to hunting and habitat destruction. Today only small pockets survive in Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The Olkhon mountain vole (Alticola olchonensis) is confined to rocky steppe areas on Olkhon and Ogoi islands, Lake Baikal.
The Central Asian tortoise (Agrionemys horsfieldii) is threatened by overcollection for the international pet trade.
The Eastern Steppe extends from north-western China through Mongolia to Manchuria, where it very nearly reaches the Pacific Ocean.
The Mongolian wild horse (Equus ferus przewalski) is the last surviving subspecies of the now extinct wild horse. Until the eighteenth century, when it first became known to Western science, it ranged from the Russian steppes east to the semideserts of Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and northern China. Soon after it appears to have undergone a catastrophic decline. With the introduction of modern firearms Chinese and Mongolian hunters had become a serious threat to the survival of this species. Simultaneously, nomadic tribes with cattle occupied the areas where it lived and particularly the watering places, forcing the horses to retreat to less-favourable habitat in the mountains. It remained rare and little-known until reported again from Central Asia by the explorer, Colonel Nikolai Przewalski, at the end of the nineteenth century. European zoos quickly became interested in adding the animals to their collections, and several ambitious expeditions were mounted to their last known stronghold, the arid steppes in the corner between China, Mongolia, and Russia. In all, some 53 animals were captured and brought back successfully to Europe around the turn of the century, with a few more collected in the 1930s and 1940s. The few remaining wild animals survived until the mid-twentieth century, where they were last seen in 1969 in the Dzungarian Gobi Desert. Fortunately, by then the captive population had grown to around 150. Since the 1990s reintroduction efforts have been undertaken in protected areas of Mongolia and China, with further projects planned for Kazakhstan and Russia.
The Evoron vole (Microtus evoronensis) is known only from a small area of far south-eastern Siberia within the lower Amur River floodplains.
Jankowski’s bunting (Emberiza jankowskii) breeds in grassland areas of north-eastern China (Manchuria) and far north-eastern North Korea, where it is threatened by loss of habitat. It formerly also occurred in Russia (southern Primorye), but disappeared from there by the early 1970s.
The Peking gecko (Gekko swinhonis) still has a relatively wide distribution in the grasslands of north-eastern China, but is threatened by harvesting for ‘traditional medicine’ and habitat destruction.
The Mongol Steppe includes both Mongolia as well as the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia, with the two being separated by the Gobi Desert. It is bordered on the south by the Tibetan Plateau.
The Mongolian saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica mongolica) is nowadays confined to western Mongolia north of the Altai Mountains, having been extirpated in China in the middle of the twentieth century due to hunting for its horns, which are highly valued in ‘traditional medicine’. In recent years mass die-offs of entire herds have occurred in both subspecies as a result of disease.
Deserts and Semi-deserts
Vast areas of central Asia consist of deserts or semi-deserts, the latter sometimes shading off into arid steppe. For the purposes of this website I have treated these habitats as one, because most of the larger mammals in these poor environments were driven into them from grasslands by man and his livestock. A surprising number of the larger animals have survived in the Eurasian deserts until the mid-twentieth century, when man, equipped with motorized vehicles and modern firearms, began to slaughter them recklessly.
The two-humped or Bactrian camel actually consists of two closely related species that, although similar in appearance, have nevertheless descended from distinct ancestors. The domesticated Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) remains a common animal of the steppes and deserts of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China. The wild Bactrian camel (C. ferus) historically ranged from about the great bend of the Yellow River, across the deserts of southern Mongolia and north-western China to central Kazakhstan. By the middle of the nineteenth century it had been extirpated from the western part of its range and survived only in remote areas of the Gobi and Taklimakan Deserts, where populations are highly fragmented. Whether the latter descend from wild animals or their ancestors merely returned to the wild state from domestication is a matter of dispute, but in either case they have now long since been living as pure wild camels. During the 1920s the species could be met everywhere in the Gobi Desert, but during the following decades it declined rapidly. Heavy persecution and competition with domesticated animals for pasture and water probably caused the decline. Today, only about 1400 survive, mostly in the Lop Nur Reserve in China, with a smaller population in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.
The Turkmenian wild ass (Equus hemionus kulan) was historically found in the semi-deserts of northern Afghanistan, western China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, southern Siberia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. By the 1940s a combination of hunting, competition with livestock and habitat destruction had reduced it to only one location, the Badkhyz Strictly Protected Area in southern Turkmenistan. Subsequent reintroduction efforts in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan have proven to be only temporarily effective owing mainly to high poaching pressure, and populations have declined to a current total of around 2500–3000.
The goitered gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa) is so-named for an enlargement of the neck and throat that males develop during mating season. Three subspecies are found throughout the arid and semi-arid regions of Central Asia and the Near East, where they have been historically slaughtered in great numbers and are still subject to illegal poaching. The Persian goitered gazelle (G. s. subgutturosa) still survives in Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, southern Afghanistan, and western Pakistan, but has disappeared from much of its former range. The Turkmenian goitered gazelle (G. s. gracilicornis) lives in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan, while the Yarkand goitered gazelle (G. s. yarkandensis) occurs in northern and northwestern China and Mongolia.
The pallid pygmy jerboa (Salpingotus pallidus) is confined to a few localities in central and eastern Kazakhstan. Dahl’s jird (Meriones dahli) is confined to Armenia and eastern Turkey (Agri province).
The desert dormouse (Selevinia betpakdalaensis) is a rare species known only from a few localities over a relatively wide area of central Kazakhstan.
The Bokhara mouse-eared bat (Myotis bucharensis) is known only from a few specimens collected from three localities in Central Asia (Uzbekistan and Tajikistan).
Two lizards of the genus Phrynocephalus are threatened by loss of habitat. Strauch’s toad-headed agama (P. strauchi) inhabits the Fergana Valley of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Horvath’s toad-headed agama (P. horvathi) is confined to a few isolated populations in the Araks River valley of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and eastern Turkey.
The Gobi Desert
The Gobi Desert is a large, cold expanse located in northern and north-western China and southern Mongolia. It is the fifth largest desert in the world and the second largest in Asia. Much of it is not actually sandy, but rather, exposed bare rock.
The Mongolian wild ass or khulan (Equus hemionus hemionus) is today largely confined to arid and semi-arid regions of the Gobi Desert in northern China and southern Mongolia. It formerly also occurred in eastern Kazakhstan and southern Siberia, but has been extirpated there due to overhunting. While the population remains large, it continues to be threatened by poaching and loss of habitat.
The Karakum Desert (‘Black Sand’) is located east of the Caspian Sea and covers much of Turkmenistan.
Golubew’s toad-headed agama (Phrynocephalus golubewii) is an extremely rare species confined to a small area of salt flats near Bami Station in southern Turkmenistan.
The Kyzylkum Desert (‘Red Sand’) is a large desert located in Central Asia between the rivers Amu Darya and Syr Darya, a region historically known as Transoxania or Sogdiana. Today it is divided between Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
Heptner’s pygmy jerboa (Salpingotus heptneri) is confined to the Kyzylkum Desert, where it is known only from a few specimens.
The Taklamakan Desert is located in north-western China (south-western Xinjiang).
Vaurie’s nightjar (Caprimulgus centralasicus) is known only from a single specimen collected in the mid-twentieth century. Subsequent surveys have failed to locate it, and it is thought that the species may be migratory and either breed or winter elsewhere.
Isolated Caves, Springs and Pools
Within the Eurasian Region the most notable karstic region occurs in the Balkans.
The olm or proteus (Proteus anguinus) is an entirely aquatic salamander that inhabits subterranean caves within the Dinaric Alps. The nominotypical form (P. p. anguinus) ranges from southern Slovenia and adjoining north-eastern Italy through coastal Croatia and the karst regions of Bosnia- Herzegovina. It likely occurs in western Montenegro as well. The black olm (P. p. parkelj), first discovered in 1986, is endemic to the underground waters of the Doblicica karst spring near Crnomelj, Slovenia. Both subspecies are extremely vulnerable to changes in their habitat, in particular pollution.
The Petzea rudd (Scardinius racovitzai) is a type of freshwater fish confined to a single small hot spring in northwestern Romania, where it is threatened by pollution and water extraction.
The Almiri toothcarp (Aphanius almiriensis) is known from two springs in western Greece, one near Almiri (where it has not been recorded since 2003 and is probably extirpated), and the other at Meligou in the Peloponnese. The latter locality was unfortunately transformed into a bathing area, but the species is still thought to survive in surrounding lagoon habitat.
Two minnows of the genus Delminichthys are threatened by water extraction and pollution. The Modro Oko minnow (D. krbavensis) is confined to a single karstic spring in western Croatia. Ghetaldi’s minnow (D. ghetaldii) is confined to karstic streams and springs in southern Dalmatia.
Three species of spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus) are highly restricted in distribution. The Akstafa spring minnow (P. sojuchbulagi) is known only from springs in Azerbaijan, where it was last recorded in 1948. None have been found in subsequent searches. The Antalya spring minnow (P. antalyae) is confined to two springs and a stream flowing to the Bay of Antalya in south-western Turkey. The Turianchi spring minnow (P. atropatenus) is confined to two small but very deep springs in Azerbaijan.
The Timavo Spring sculpin (Cottus scaturigo) is confined to Timavo Spring in north-western Italy, a resurgence of the partially subterranean Reka River.
The Greek ninespine stickleback (Pungitius hellenicus) is confined to three localities in the Spercheios Valley of central Greece, specifically the Aghia Paraskevi spring, a number of drainage channels, and three natural wells.
Stefanidis’ spined loach (Cobitis stephanidisi) has been extirpated from its original range in the Kefalovriso karstic spring, within the former Lake Karla basin of central Greece. However, it was subsequently found in the nearby Chasambali spring, where it is seriously threatened by water extraction, pollution, and drought.
Starostin’s stone loach (Troglocobitis starostini) is confined to a single cave in the Kugitang Hills of eastern Turkmenistan, where it is highly susceptible to human disturbance and pollution.
The cave stone loach (Barbatula sp.) is an as-yet undescribed species first discovered by cave divers in southern Germany in 2015.
The Sultan Sazligi Marshes
The Sultan Sazligi marshes are located in south-central Turkey. At one time a very important wetland area, they were unfortunately drained and largely dried out in the early twenty-first century. All remaining springs are fed from a single aquifer.
The Sultan Sazligi toothcarp (Aphanius danfordii) and the Sultan Sazligi spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus elizavetae) are both confined to two small spring fields about 15 km apart along with a few canals within the Sultan Sazligi marshes.
Lakes, Rivers and Marshes
The Eurasian Region is rich in freshwater wetlands, being crossed by a number of large river systems and dotted by mainly smaller lakes. Most of the latter were produced by the great ice sheets that covered the northern part of this portmanteau continent for long periods. Northern Eurasia is therefore much richer in lakes than is the southern part. A high proportion of the original shallow lakes and marshes of northern Europe have long since been drained for agricultural purposes. Long regarded as a step towards effective land use and prosperity, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries draining had become a sort of mania. Oftentimes these efforts proved to be less than successful. Economically they failed to produce the expected agricultural harvests, biologically the productivity of the areas was greatly reduced, and hydrologically the surrounding lands suffered owing to the sinking ground-water level. These unanticipated consequences of draining resulted from a complete failure to appreciate the intimate relationship between aquatic resources and the longterm productivity of the soil. In more recent years hydroelectric systems, including reservoirs with continuously changing volumes, as well as serious pollution have also affected lakes and rivers, interfering with natural food chains, biotic productivity, and the reproduction of waterfowl and economically important fishes such as salmon and trout. With the disappearance or poisoning of many marshes, lakes, and deltas, the habitats of aquatic animals have been greatly reduced and many species have gone extinct or become seriously threatened.
The Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) was once widespread in Europe and Asia, but was hunted to near-extinction both for its fur and castoreum (a yellowish secretion used as a tincture in perfumes). By 1900, only 1200 survived in 8 relict populations. Reintroduced throughout much of its former range, it now occurs from Great Britain to Mongolia and China, although it remains absent from southern Europe and the Middle East.
The European mink (Mustela lutreola) is a semi-aquatic mustelid that was historically found from Finland to east of the Ural Mountains and south as far as northern Spain and the Caucasus. Heavily hunted for its luxuriant fur, it is now reduced to a few isolated pockets across this vast range. Habitat destruction and the introduction of American mink (Neovison vison) are additional threats.
The Russian desman (Desmana moschata) is a small, longsnouted, semi-aquatic insectivore that inhabits wetlands of the Volga, Don, and Ural river drainages in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Long hunted for their rich, thick fur, the main threats now are habitat destruction and degradation and competition with introduced muskrats (Ondatra zibethicus).
The Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) occurs in the northern and central parts of Spain and Portugal, the French Pyrenees, and Andorra, but has experienced extreme range contractions across its range.
The southern water vole (Arvicola sapidus) is confined to isolated wetland areas of France, Spain, and Portugal, where it is threatened mainly by loss of habitat.
The relict gull (Ichthyaetus relictus) breeds in a small number of saline lakes in the arid steppe regions of Mongolia, eastern Kazakhstan, south-central Russia, and northern China, from where it migrates to South Korea and perhaps north-eastern China as well. It is threatened mainly by coastal development in its non-breeding range.
The Far Eastern curlew (Numenius madagascariensis) breeds in eastern Russia and north-eastern Mongolia, from where it winters as far south as Australia and New Zealand. It is threatened mainly by loss of habitat.
Swinhoe’s rail (Coturnicops exquisitus), the world’s smallest rail species, was long known only from two small breeding areas separated by more than 1000 km in northeastern China and south-eastern Siberia. A new breeding population situated between the two was discovered in the Amur region in 2018, and more recently in Japan. The species is everywhere rare and declining due to loss of habitat.
The large-headed water snake (Natrix megalocephala) is found in western Transcaucasia in south-western Russia, western Georgia, and far north-eastern Turkey, where it prefers fast-flowing mountain streams as well as lower-elevation woodlands. It is threatened by loss of habitat and introduced racoons (Procyon lotor).
The Italian yellow-bellied toad (Bombina pachypus) ranges through much of the Italian Peninsula south of the Po River, where it is nevertheless threatened by the loss of its wetland habitat.
The Suweon tree frog (Dryophytes suweonensis) is confined to wetlands areas in the lowlands of the north-western South Korea, where it is threatened by loss of habitat.
The Tavas frog (Rana tavasensis) is confined to two areas of south-western Turkey. The Italian agile frog (R. latastei) is confined to a few localities in northern Italy and (marginally) southern Switzerland. Both are threatened by loss of habitat.
Three species of Eurasian water frog (Pelophylax) are threatened by loss of habitat, pollution, and overcollection. The Epirus water frog (P. epeiroticus) is confined to small pockets of suitable habitat in southern Albania and western Greece (including the island of Corfu). The Albanian water frog (P. shqipericus) is confined to western Albania and southern Montenegro. The Korean water frog (P. chosenicus) is confined to the western Korean Peninsula.
The European sturgeon or beluga (Huso huso) is the largest freshwater fish in the world, with the all-time accepted record being a 7.2-m individual taken from the Volga estuary in 1827 that weighed 1571 kg. It is an anadromous species historically known from the Caspian, Black, Azov, and Adriatic basins, but has been extirpated from the Adriatic and Azov seas due to overfishing and loss of spawning sites due to dams. It has long been in heavy demand for the female’s valuable roe – better known as beluga caviar – and although governments have attempted for decades to restrict the trade, poaching continues.
Sturgeons of the genus Acipenser are widespread across Eurasia and North America, where they are anadromous (i.e. able to live in both fresh and salt water). Many species are highly threatened by overfishing, damming of their spawning rivers, and the international trade in caviar. The Atlantic sturgeon (A. sturio) was historically found throughout the North and Baltic seas, the English Channel, the European and Icelandic coast of the Atlantic, the northern Mediterranean, and parts of the Black Sea. Today only a single small population remains, in the Garonne River of south-western France, where it last spawned in 1994. The starry sturgeon (A. stellatus) was historically found throughout the Caspian, Black, Azov, and Aegean sea basins, but has been extirpated from the latter and it is predicted that the remaining natural population will soon follow. The Siberian sturgeon (A. baerii) is normally divided into two subspecies, the nominate form of which (A. b. baerii) historically inhabited all the Siberian rivers draining into the Kara, Laptev, and East Siberian seas as well as the Irtysh River in north-western China (Xinjiang). The latter wild population was extirpated in the 1950s, although small numbers continue to be artificially restocked. The sterlet (A. ruthenus) inhabits the large rivers flowing into the Black, Azov, and Caspian seas, as well as a few others in Siberia. Populations migrating between fresh and salt water have all been extirpated. The diamond sturgeon (A. gueldenstaedtii) was historically found in the Caspian, Black and Azov sea basins, although aquaculture has resulted in both intentional and accidental introductions throughout Europe. It is currently known only from the Caspian Sea, where it spawns in the Ural and Volga rivers, and from the Black Sea where spawning occurs in the lower Danube and Rioni rivers. There is no native spawning population remaining in the Sea of Azov, only introduced (stocked) individuals. The ship sturgeon (A. nudiventris) was historically abundant in the Black, Aral, and Caspian sea basins, with possible relict populations in the Rioni River of Georgia and the Safid Rud in Iran. The healthiest population is in Lake Balkhash in Kazakhstan, well outside its natural range, where the species was introduced in the 1960s for commercial purposes. It has also been introduced to the upper Illi River in China and to the Syr-Darya River in the Aral sea basin. The Adriatic sturgeon (A. naccarii) was historically confined to the rivers and lagoons of northern Italy and the eastern coasts of the Adriatic Sea. All wild populations are now most likely extirpated, with the species now totally dependent upon stocking from aquaculture.
The lavaret whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) was historically confined to Lake Bourget in France and to Lake Geneva, with an additional population having been introduced to Lake Aiguebelette in France centuries ago. The Lake Geneva population was extirpated in the early twentieth century, although the reason is unknown. The pfärrit whitefish (C. confusus) was historically known from lakes Morat and Bienne in Switzerland, although it may occur in Lake Neuchâtel as well. The Lake Morat population was extirpated in the 1960s due to eutrophication and water level management. Trybom’s whitefish (C. trybomi) was historically known for certain only from a few lakes in southern Sweden. Only the population in Lake Fegen survives today, the other populations having been extirpated in the 1970s and 1980s due to acid rain and the stocking of introduced species.
The Siberian taimen (Hucho taimen) is a salmon-like game fish with a wide geographic range within Eurasia, including parts of the Caspian and Arctic drainages as well as portions of the Pacific drainages. It is everywhere threatened by overfishing, pollution, and loss of habitat.
The Yessey char (Salvelinus tolmachoffi) is confined to lakes Yessey, Siltak, and Bezymannoye in the Khatanga River drainage of north-central Siberia, and to Khantaiskoye Lake in the Yenisey drainage. It may also be present in a few lakes of the Gydanskiy Bay basin on the Taimyr Peninsula. It is threatened by pollution from heavy metal mining and by overfishing.
The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) has been domesticated since the Middle Ages, and cultivated stocks are assumed to have been derived from the wild European carp (C. c. carpio) which is native to the Black, Caspian, and Aral sea basins. This subspecies has been introduced to other parts of Europe as well as to the Middle East and north-western Africa, and has also been established worldwide in large quantities for use as food. Unfortunately, hybridization with domesticated introduced stocks has become a seriously threat to genetically pure populations. Another subspecies, the Deniz carp (C. c. yilmaz), is confined to Anatolian Turkey.
The Austrian lakes trout (Salmo schiefermuelleri) is known historically from three subalpine lakes (Attersee, Traunsee, and Fuschlersee). It is most likely extinct. The Adriatic trout (S. obtusirostris) is confined to a few rivers in Croatia, Bosnia- Herzegovina, and Montenegro. The Pelagos trout (S. pelagonicus) is confined to a few rivers in North Macedonia and northern Greece. The flathead trout (S. platycephalus) is known only from three mountain streams in central Turkey. There is some question, however, as to the validity of the species.
The Valencia toothcarp (Valencia hispanica) is confined to coastal areas of east-central Spain. The species appears to have formerly ranged as far as southern France. Letourneux’s toothcarp (V. letourneuxi) is confined to Lake Butrint in southern Albania and to a few areas of coastal western Greece. The species is believed to have been extirpated from the islands of Corfu and Lefkas.
Kemal’s golden barb (Garra kemali) is confined to central Anatolia, where it is known from the Eregli Marshes, Lake Meyil, and the Lake Beysehir basin.
Four barbels of the genus Barbus are threatened by habitat degradation, water extraction, and introduced species. The brook barbel (B. caninus) was historically confined to the Po and Isonzo rivers of northern Italy, southern Austria, and southern Switzerland. It is not clear whether it still survives in the Isonzo River. The Crimean barbel (B. tauricus) is confined to a few streams on the southern tip of the Crimean Peninsula. The Macedonian barbel (B. macedonicus) is confined to a few rivers in northern Greece and North Macedonia. The Catalan barbel (B. haasi) is confined to the Ebro River drainage and a few coastal rivers in north-eastern Spain.
The Greek barbel (Luciobarbus graecus) is confined to the Sperchios River drainage and Lake Yliki in eastern Greece. It formerly occurred in Lake Paralimni as well, which has since been drained. The Bulatmai barbel (L. capito) is found in the Caspian and Aral seas along with their inflowing rivers. It has been extirpated over much of its range due to expanding hydropower development, overfishing, and pollution. The Iberian barbel (L. comizo), Valencia barbel (L. guiraonis), and Steindachner’s barbel (L. steindachneri) are all confined to the Tagus and Guadiana river drainages of south-western Spain and southern Portugal, where they have declined considerably since the 1990s.
The Dalmatian barbelgudgeon (Aulopyge huegelii) inhabits both above-ground and subterranean karst rivers as well as lakes in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, but is everywhere threatened by pollution and invasive species.
Two species of scraper (Capoeta) are endemic to Turkey, where they are threatened by water extraction, drought, and introduced species. The longsnout scraper (C. mauricii) appears to have been historically widespread in central Turkey, but is two confined to the south-eastern Lake Beysehir basin and few other isolated streams. The Pamphylian scraper (C. antalyensis) is confined to the Aksu and Koprucay river drainages of south-western Turkey. The pike-asp (Aspiolucius esocinus) is found in the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers and a few lakes in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The Antalya bleak (Alburnus baliki) is known only from four streams draining to the Gulf of Antalya in south-central Turkey. The Manyas bleak (A. carinatus) is confined to Lake Kus (Lake Manyas) and Lake Uluabat (Lake Apalyont) in north-western Turkey, from where they ascend a handful of tributaries to spawn. The eastern Aegean bleak (A. demiri) is confined to a few river drainages in south-western Turkey. The Gediz bleak (A. battalgilae) is confined to the lower Gediz and Koca drainages of east-central Turkey, where it has been extirpated from a number of localities. The Italian bleak (A. albidus) is confined to the rivers of southern Italy. Nasreddin’s bleak (A. nasreddini) was historically found in Lake Eber and Lake Aksehir and their tributaries. Massive water extraction and pollution have destroyed most of its habitat, and the species is currently known only from a single tributary of Lake Aksehir, the Ortakoy River.
Members of the genus Telestes are small cyprinid fish that live in the karstic rivers and lakes of the Balkan region. Many are threatened by habitat loss due to water extraction and drought. The spring dace (T. fontinalis) is confined to intermittent rivers and karsts in Croatia. The Boeotian dace (T. beoticus) is confined to the Kifissos and Asopos river drainages of south-eastern Greece. It was historically also found in the catchment rivers for lakes Yliki and Paralimni, which are now totally drained. The Croatian dace (T. croaticus) is confined to a few river systems in central Croatia. The striped dace (T. metohiensis) is confined to a few streams in southern Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro.
Four species of nase of the genus Chondrostoma are threatened by water extraction, introduced species, and pollution. The eastern Aegean nase (C. holmwoodii) was historically known from the Kucuk Menderes, Izmir, Gediz, and Bakir river drainages of western Turkey. It has apparently been extirpated from the Kucuk Menderes. The Tefenni nase (C. fahirae) is historically known from Kirkpinar spring near Tefenni in south-western Turkey, where it was extirpated and had to be reintroduced, with unknown success. Populations are found in Lake Karatash and a stream within the Lake Burdur basin as well. The Italian nase (C. soetta) was historically confined to northern Italy, Slovenia, and southern Switzerland, from where it has been introduced into a few lakes in west-central Italy. It has been extirpated from Slovenia and the Isonzo River drainage. The minnow nase (C. phoxinus) is known only from a few freshwater karst localities in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Coelho’s nase (Pseudochondrostoma duriense) is confined to a few river drainages in north-western Spain and northern Portugal. Willkomm’s nase (P. willkommii) is confined to southern Spain and southern Portugal. Both are threatened mainly by habitat destruction.
The south-west European nase (Parachondrostoma toxostoma) is confined to the Rhône drainage of France and Switzerland and to coastal rivers in France. It is threatened by dam construction and introduced species. The Turia nase (P. turiense) is confined to the Turia and Mijares river drainages of east-central coastal Spain, where it is threatened by pollution and introduced species.
Three species of nase of the genus Iberochondrostoma endemic to the Iberian Peninsula are threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, and predation and competition from introduced fish species. Almaca’s arch-mouthed nase (I. almacai) is confined to the Mira, Arade, and Bensafrim river drainages of southern Portugal. The Lusitanian arch-mouthed nase (I. lusitanicum) is confined to a few rivers in south-western Portugal. Lemming’s arch-mouthed nase (I. lemmingii) is confined to the Tagus, Guadiana, Odiel, and Guadalquivir river drainages of south-western Spain and southern Portugal.
The Aegean minnow (Phoxinus strymonicus) is known only from the Aggitis (Strymon) River in northern Greece, although the species may also occur in the Loudias and Filiouris drainages. Strandja’s minnow (P. strandjae) is confined to the Veleka and Resowska river drainages of Bulgaria and Turkey.
The Dinaric minnow (Phoxinellus alepidotus) is confined to a few river drainages in southern Croatia and Bosnia- Herzegovina.
A great number of spring minnows of the genus Pseudophoxinus are endemic to Anatolian Turkey, where they are threatened by water extraction and drought. The giant spring minnow (P. anatolicus) is still found in a number of lakes and streams in central Turkey and their tributaries and in the Eregli marshes. It has been extirpated from Lake Beysehir. The Sandikli spring minnow (P. maeandricus) is known from Karadirek stream near Sandikli in west-central Turkey, an isolated basin which flows underground to Isikli spring, and to the Lake Hotamis basin in south-central Turkey where it was extirpated some time ago due to the draining of the marshes. The Pamphylian spring minnow (P. alii) is known from the Ilica and Kormurculer streams as well as a section of the Aksu River, all of which flow into the Bay of Antalya in south-central Turkey. The Lycian spring minnow (P. evliyae) is known from the Lake Avlan basin, which drains through the Akçay River to the Mediterranean, and to the Lake Söğüt basin, both in south-western Turkey. Lake Avlan has become a seasonal lake, making three springs the only refuge sites for the species, while Lake Sogut was drained many years ago and the species only survives in a few canals fed by a single spring. The central Anatolian spring minnow (P. burduricus) is confined to the Lake Burdur and Lake Salda drainages and to a few other isolated springs and streams. The fat spring minnow (P. crassus) is known from a few lakes and streams in west-central Turkey. The species most likely occurred in Lake Samsam, which was entirely drained in the 1970s. The Apamean spring minnow (P. maeandri) is confined to an undefined locality in Turkey.
The Izmir minnow (Ladigesocypris mermere) is known only from a few specimens collected from southwestern Anatolia.
The spotted minnow (Delminichthys adspersus) and Ghetaldi’s minnow (D. ghetaldii) are both confined to a few rivers and lakes in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Peloponnese minnow (Pelasgus laconicus) is confined to fragmented populations within the Eurotas and Alfeiós rivers in southern Greece.
The Estremadura minnow (Achondrostoma occidentale) is known from the Alcabrichel, Sizandro, and Safarujo drainages of west-central Portugal, although it is believed that the Safarujo population was extirpated when the stream dried up. Arcas’ minnow (A. arcasii) is confined to a few rivers in northern Portugal and northern Spain. Both are threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, and predation and competition from introduced fish species.
The Crimean riffle minnow (Alburnoides maculatus) is confined to small streams of the Crimean Peninsula, where it is threatened by water extraction and drought.
The European mudminnow (Umbra krameri) has a scattered distribution in the Danube and Dniestr River drainages of south-central Europe, where it is threatened by the disappearance of its backwater habitat. It has been extirpated from many locations.
The Spartan minnowroach (Tropidophoxinellus spartiaticus) is confined to a few small rivers and streams in the southern Peloponnese of Greece.
Steindachner’s chub (Iberocypris alburnoides) is still fairly widespread in lakes and rivers within the southern Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal, but is everywhere under threat by loss of habitat and introduced species.
The Aksehir chub (Squalius recurvirostris) is known from at least three stream catchments, one each flowing to lakes Ilgin, Eber, and Aksehir in west-central Turkey. The species historically occurred in lakes Eber and Aksehi themselves, but have been extirpated due to desiccation and pollution, although it still survives in Lake Ilgin. The thick-lipped chub (S. cephaloides) is known only from the Tesvikiye and (formerly) Armutlu streams in north-western Turkey. The Toscana chub (S. lucumonis) is confined to a few populations with the Tiber, Arno, Ombrone, and Serchio river drainages of central-west Italy. The Málaga chub (S. malacitanus) is confined to the Guadalmina and Guadiaro rivers of southern coastal Spain. The Valencia chub (S. valentinus) is confined to a few coastal rivers in south-eastern Spain. The Arade chub (S. aradensis) is confined to the Arade, Algibre, and Bordeira river drainages of southern Portugal. The Stymphalia chub (S. moreoticus) is known only from Lake Stymphalia and Vouraikos river drainage of south-central Greece. The Neretva chub (S. svallize) is confined to the Neretva and Trebisnjica river drainages in Bosnia-Herzegovina, southern Croatia, and Montenegro. The Livno chub (S. tenellus) is confined to a few karstic streams in Bosnia-Herzegovina and southern Croatia, and may have been introduced to Lake Blidinje more than a century ago.
The Elmali rudd (Scardinius elmaliensis) is confined to a few streams and springs in south-western Turkey. The Tiber rudd (S. scardafa) was formerly found throughout the Tiber River drainage, but is now entirely confined to Lake Scano, a locality outside its natural range, where it was introduced in the late nineteenth century.
Meidinger’s roach (Rutilus meidingeri) is currently known from lakes Attersee, Mondsee, and Wolfgangsee in northern Austria, with an additional small population in an Austrian stretch of Danube. The species has been extirpated from Lake Traunsee in Austria and from Lake Chiemsee in south-eastern Germany (although it continues to be stocked there).
Panos’ roach (Leucos panosi) is confined to lakes Trichonis and Ambrakia and to the Achelous and Louros river drainages of western Greece. The Yliki roach (L. ylikiensis) was historically known from the Kifissos River drainage, including lakes Yliki and Paralimni (the latter now dry) in central Greece.
Duran’s sculpin (Cottus duranii) is only known from a few specimens collected from the upper Loire and Dordogne drainages of south-central France.
The Eber gudgeon (Gobio intermedius) historically occurred in lakes Eber and Aksehir in west-central Turkey, but are now confined to a few inflowing streams due to drought and pollution. The Salgir gudgeon (G. krymensis) is confined to a few rivers at the southern tip of the Crimean Peninsula, where it is threatened by water extraction.
The Benacus gudgeon (Romanogobio benacensis) was historically confined to the Po River drainage and coastal rivers in northern Italy, where it has disappeared from many areas. The species has been introduced into the Arno and Ombrone rivers, and to the Isonzo and Reka rivers of Slovenia.
The Arno goby (Neogobius nigricans) is confined to streams and lakes within the Tyrrhenian catchment of northcentral Italy. It is threatened by habitat degradation and introduced species.
Brauner’s goby (Benthophiloides brauneri) is a rarely recorded freshwater and brackish water species from the surrounding rivers, lakes, and estuaries of the Black and Caspian sea basins. It is threatened by loss of habitat due to water extraction and drought.
The Iyidere goby (Ponticola rizensis) is confined to three streams in north-eastern Turkey, where it is threatened by dam construction.
The Gediz dwarf goby (Knipowitschia mermere) is known from Lake Marmara and the lower Gediz and Madra river drainages of western Turkey. The Croatian dwarf goby (K. croatica) is found in clear karstic springs, lakes, and smaller rivers within the Neretva and Matica drainages of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It is threatened by eutrophication, pollution, and water extraction.
The Baetic toothcarp (Aphanius baeticus) is confined to the lower Guadalquivir River and a few streams in southwestern Spain. While protected within Doñana National Park it remains threatened by habitat destruction, pollution, repeated drought, and the introduction of exotic species.
Aristotle’s catfish (Silurus aristotelis) was historically confined to Lake Trichonida, Lake Lysimachia, and Lake Amvrakia in western Greece. The species is of considerable commercial interest to local fisheries and was introduced to Lake Pahvotis as well as to Lake Volvi in northern Greece.
The Kashmir mountain catfish (Glyptothorax kashmirensis) is known from the Jhelum River within the Indus River drainage of Pakistan, as well as from northern India (Jammu and Kashmir). An additional record from the Ganges River drainage in Nepal requires confirmation. It is thought to be seriously threatened by damming.
The Carian sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus germencicus) is known only from the Buyuk Menderes and lower Gediz drainages in western Anatolia. It likely also occurred in the Kucuk Menderes River, which lies between the two known rivers, but is now extirpated there due to pollution and water extraction.
Two pond loaches of the genus Seminemacheilus are endemic to west-central Turkey, where they are threatened by water extraction and drought. Lendli’s pond loach (S. lendlii) was historically widespread across central Anatolia but is now known only from a few isolated springs and tributaries of Lake Tuz and Lake Beysehir. The Ispart pond loach (S. ispartensis) is confined to the Egirdir, Aksehir, and Eber lake basins.
Stephanidis’ spined loach (Cobitis trichonica) is confined to lakes Trichonis, Lysimachia, Ozeros, and Amvrakia, and to the Acheloos River drainage in western Greece. The brown spined loach (C. puncticulata) is confined to a few rivers and lakes in north-eastern Greece and north-western Turkey. The Phrygian spined loach (C. phrygica) is confined to a few lakes, springs, and streams in south-western Turkey. The Bithynian spined loach (C. splendens) is confined to a single small stream on the Black Sea coast of north-western Turkey. Calderon’s spined loach (C. calderoni) is confined to the Douro, Ebro, and Tagus river drainages of northern Portugal and northern Spain. The Illyrian spined loach (C. illyrica) is confined to a small area of southern Croatia. De Buen’s spined loach (C. paludica) is confined to the rivers of the central and southern Iberian Peninsula. Zanandrea’s spined loach (C. zanandreai) was historically confined to the Volturno River drainage of south-central Italy. It is also present in Lake Fondi and a few associated lagoons, where it was most likely introduced.
The Turkish brook lamprey (Lampetra lanceolata) is confined to widely separated streams in northern Turkey, one flowing into the Black Sea at Trabzon and another running to Lake Sapanca in Western Anatolia.
The Greek brook lamprey (Eudontomyzon hellenicus) is today known only from two brooks within the Struma River drainage of north-eastern Greece. It was historically found in the Louros River drainage in western Greece as well, but appears to have extirpated.
The Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed inland body of water on Earth by area, although shrinking rapidly due to climate change and human activity along the Volga River. Its fauna is poor but extremely varied owing to its former connections with other seas from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.
The Caspian seal (Pusa caspica) is a small, ice-breeding species endemic to the Caspian Sea. Unsustainable commercial hunting has been responsible for a dramatic decline in population.
The Persian sturgeon (Acipenser persicus) is confined to the Caspian Sea, where it is most abundant in the southern part. Historically it ascended all the rivers of the basin to spawn, but is now restricted to the lower courses of a few rivers in Iran. The species is heavily fished for its meat and roe, and continues to be stocked from aquaculture.
The Volga shad (Alosa volgensis) is an anadromous species of commercial fishing importance which historically ascending from the Caspian Sea up the Volga, Terek, and Ural rivers to spawn. It has been extirpated from the latter two rivers, and the construction of the Volgograd Dam has severely curtailed its migration in the Volga.
The beloribitsa whitefish (Stenodus leucichthys) has lost all of its spawning grounds along the Volga River due to the construction of dams. It is now extinct in the wild, but survives in cultured stocks.
The Caspian kutum (Rutilus kutum) was historically common, but appears to have declined dramatically in recent years owing to marine pollution and overfishing.
The Khvalyn spined loach (Cobitis amphilekta) is known for certain only from Kyzylagach Bay and the lower Kumbashi River in Azerbaijan.
The Aral Sea
The Aral Sea was an endorheic lake (i.e. one with no outflow) lying between Kazakhstan in the north and Uzbekistan in the south. Formerly the fourth largest lake in the world, it began to shrink in the 1960s after the rivers that fed it were diverted by Soviet irrigation projects. By 1997 it had declined to just 10 per cent of its original size, in the process splitting into four separate lakes. By 2009 the south-eastern lake had disappeared, and the south-western lake had been reduced to a thin strip. Satellite images taken by NASA in 2014 revealed that the eastern basin had completely dried up (it is now known as the Aralkum Desert). The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called one of the worst environmental disasters in modern history. The region’s once-prosperous fishing industry has been essentially destroyed.
The Aral barbel (Luciobarbus brachycephalus) was historically found throughout the Aral Sea basin, along with the Chu River drainage and the western Caspian Sea. Today it survives only in a few reservoirs of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya (tributaries of the Aral Sea) and the Karakum Canal, where it is invasive. In the western Caspian Sea the landlocked population in the Kura River is thought to be stable, as are those in the southern tributaries, but migrating populations have declined due to a lack of spawning sites and poaching.
The Amu Darya and Syr Darya Rivers
The Amu Darya (historically the Oxus) and Syr Darya (historically the Jaxartes) rivers are the primary tributaries of the Aral Sea.
The sharpray (Capoetobrama kuschakewitschi) is a type of cyprinid fish confined to the Aral Sea basin. Kuschakewitsch’s sharpray (C. k. kuschakewitschi) is confined to the Amu Darya and Syr Darya river systems.
Fedtschenko’s false shovelnose sturgeon (Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi) was historically found in the Aral Sea as well as the Syr Darya and the middle and lower reaches from the Kara Darya River. Last recorded in 1960, it is most likely extinct. The dwarf false shovelnose sturgeon (P. hermanni) and Kaufmann’s false shovelnose sturgeon (P. kaufmanni) are both confined to a few localities within the Amu Darya River.
The Chu River
The Chu River is located in northern Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan.
The Chu sharpray (Capoetobrama kuschakewitschi orientalisi) is confined to the Chu River.
Lake Urmia (Daryace Orumiye in Persian) is an endorheic salt lake located in north-western Iran. At its greatest extent it was the largest lake in the Middle East, but has shrunk to a fraction of its former size owing to damming of the rivers that flow into it and groundwater pumping in the surrounding area.
The Urmia bream (Acanthalburnus urmianus) is confined to southern and western tributaries of the Lake Urmia basin.
Lake Baikal is a rift lake located in southern Siberia near the Mongolian border. So large that it is often mistaken for a sea, it is the deepest and oldest lake in the world, and the largest freshwater lake by volume. Famous for its crystal-clear waters and unique wildlife, the lake is nevertheless under threat by pollution, poaching and development.
The Baikal seal (Pusa sibirica) is the only entirely landlocked seal species in the world and one of the smallest. Endemic to the lake and its tributary rivers, it remains quite common despite hunting and pollution, but could be at risk in the future owing to climate change.
The Baikal sturgeon (Acipenser baerii baikalensis) is confined primarily to the northern end of the lake, migrating up the Selenga River to spawn. Long a target for fishermen due to its enormous size (specimens up to 125 kg were once common), it is now officially protected but remains threatened.
The Baikal whitefish or omul (Coregonus migratorius), one of the lake’s most economically important fish, was once overfished to such an extent that by the 1960s its survival, also imperilled by other environmental disturbances, was threatened. It has since recovered.
Lake Saimaa is located in south-eastern Finland. One of the largest natural freshwater lakes in Europe, it was formerly connected to the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, but has been landlocked since the last Ice Age.
The Saimaa ringed seal (Pusa hispida saimensis) is endemic to the lake, where the total population is estimated at around 200–250 individuals. It has been fully protected since 1958, but pollution and complaining fishermen constitute a threat to its existence.
Lake Geneva (Lac Léman in French) is located on the northern side of the Alps between France and Switzerland. It is one of the largest lakes in western Europe.
Two species of economically important whitefish (Coregonus) endemic to Lake Geneva have been driven to extinction due to a combination of eutrophication and overfishing. The gravenche whitefish (C. hiemalis) appears to have disappeared in the early 1900s, while the fera whitefish (C. fera) was last recorded in 1920.
The Prespa Lakes
The Prespa Lakes are two connected freshwater lakes located high in the Balkan Mountains of south-eastern Europe. Great Prespa Lake is shared between Greece, Albania, and North Macedonia, while Small Prespa Lake is shared only between Greece and Albania. The area contains three national parks.
The Prespa bleak (Alburnus belvica) is confined to the Prespa Lakes.
The Prespa trout (Salmo peristericus) is known for certain only from Agios Germanos stream in the Prespa Lakes region of north-western Greece, although it may be present as well in one or two streams in North Macedonia.
The Prespa minnow (Pelasgus prespensis) is confined to the Prespa Lakes, where it is threatened by water extraction, pollution, disease, and the introduction of exotic fish species.
The Prespa riffle minnow (Alburnoides prespensis) is confined to the Prespa Lakes.
The Prespa nase (Chondrostoma prespense) is confined to the Prespa Lakes.
The Prespa roach (Rutilus prespensis) is confined to shallow nearshore and swampy areas of the Prespa Lakes.
The Prespa spined loach (Cobitis meridionalis) is a rare nearshore species from the Prespa Lakes.
Lake Ohrid straddles the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania. One of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes, it features a unique aquatic ecosystem of global importance and many endemics.
The Belushka trout (Salmo ohridanus), Struga trout (S. balcanicus), Ohrid summer trout (S. aphelios), and Lumi trout (S. lumi) are all endemic to Lake Ohrid, where they are threatened by artificial hybridization with the more common Pestani trout (S. letnica) as well as by overfishing, poaching, and degradation of the lake’s water quality.
The Ohrid minnow (Pelasgus minutus) was historically confined to swampy areas of the Lake Ohrid basin. It has not been collected since 1973, and may be extinct.
The Ohrid riffle minnow (Alburnoides ohridanus) is confined to the surf zone along the lake’s shoreline. Interbreeding with introduced species is a possible threat.
The Ohrid gudgeon (Gobio ohridanus) is naturally endemic to Lake Ohrid, although it has been introduced to France and perhaps other countries.
Lake Van (Van Golu in Turkish) is a large endorheic lake located in eastern Turkey.
The Karasu Sha bleak (Alburnus timarensis) is confined to the lower part of Karasu stream in the Lake Van basin.
The Van scraper (Capoeta kosswigi) is confined to the Lake Van basin.
The Van sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus ercisianus) is confined to a few streams flowing into Lake Van, where it is threatened by sand mining and dam construction.
Lake Neuchâtel (Lac de Neuchâtel in French / Neuenburgersee in German) is a large lake located in western Switzerland.
The Neuchâtel deepwater char (Salvelinus neocomensis) is known only from three specimens collected in 1896, 1902, and 1904. Research undertaken in the 1950s and in 2003 appear to confirm its extinction.
The Neuchâtel whitefish (Coregonus candidus) is naturally confined to the lake, where eutrophication caused a population decline in the 1970s. It has since somewhat recovered. An introduced (possibly hybridized) population lives in Lake Maggiore.
Lake Beysehir (Beysehir Golu in Turkish) is a large freshwater lake located in south-central Turkey.
The Beysehir bleak (Alburnus akili) was endemic to Lake Beysehir, where it became extinct soon after the introduction of pike-perch (Sander lucioperca) in 1955.
The Beysehir nase (Chondrostoma beysehirense) is confined to part of Lake Beysehir and three adjacent streams.
Two species of gudgeon (Gobio) are endemic to the Lake Beysehir basin. The Beysehir gudgeon (G. microlepidotus) is known only from a few streams flowing into Lake Beysehir, although it may occur in the lake itself. The Eyilikler gudgeon (G. battalgilae) is known only from Eyilik stream in the northern Lake Beysehir basin.
The Hittitic spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus hittitorum) is known only from a spring at Eflatunpınar, east of Lake Beysehir, and Bakaran stream, which drains from the south of the lake.
Two spined loaches (Cobitis) are confined to the Lake Beysehir basin. The Beysehir spined loach (C. battalgili) is known only from three streams in the Lake Beysehir basin, and in the Manavgat stream that flows to the Mediterranean.
Bilsel’s spined loach (C. bilseli) is confined to a few streams in the Lake Beysehir basin.
Lake Egirdir (Egirdir Golu in Turkish) is a large freshwater lake located in south-western Anatolia. The introduction of the predatory pike-perch (Sander lucioperca) has had a decimating impact upon the native fish species.
Hanlirsch’s spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus handlirschi) has not been recorded since the 1980s despite intensive fieldwork, and is thought to be extinct. The Egirdir spring minnow (P. egridiri) is restricted to two densely vegetated tributaries and one large shoreline spring in the Lake Egirdir basin. At one time feared extinct, it was rediscovered in 1993.
The Egirdir longsnout scraper (Capoeta pestai) was formerly found throughout Lake Egirdir, but is now confined to a single inflowing stream (Caykoy Creek) along with a small area of adjacent lake where it is considered highly threatened.
Lake Burdur (Burdur Golu in Turkish) is a large, deep saline lake located in south-western Turkey.
The Sureyan toothcarp (Aphanius sureyanus) and the Burdur toothcarp (A. burduricus) are both confined to Lake Burdur, where they are threatened by water extraction, damming of the lake’s sources, and drought.
The Burdur sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus anatolicus) is confined to three separate, short, spring-fed streams that used to drain into Lake Burdur.
Lake Tuz (Tuz Golu in Turkish) is located in central Turkey. It is the second largest lake in the country and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world.
The Cappadocian chub (Squalius cappadocicus) is known only from the Melendiz River, a small inflow of Lake Tuz.
The Cappadocian gudgeon (Gobio gymnostethus), Taurus gudgeon (G. hettitorum), and Cihanbeyli gudgeon (G. insuyanus) are all confined to streams and marshes within the Lake Tuz basin.
The Tuz sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus eregliensis) is confined to streams and springs within the Lake Tuz basin.
The Tuz spined loach (Cobitis turcica) is confined to a few springs and streams in the Lake Tuz basin.
Lake Vistonis is a shallow coastal lagoon located in northeastern Greece. General threats include damming, pollution, and water extraction for irrigation.
The Vistonis bleak (Alburnus vistonicus) is confined to the Lake Vistonis drainage.
The Thracian shad (Alosa vistonica) is confined to the Lake Vistonis drainage.
Lake Trichonida is a large lake located within the Acheloos River drainage of western Greece. It is connected to the smaller Lake Lysimachia.
The Trichonida dwarf goby (Economidichthys trichonis) is confined to Lake Trichonida and Lake Lyssimachia.
The Trichonida combtooth blenny (Salaria economidisi) is confined to Lake Trichonida. It is threatened by loss of habitat.
Lake Skadar is located on the border between Albania and Montenegro. It is the largest lake in southern Europe.
The Skadar nase (Chondrostoma scodrense) is known only from nine specimens collected in the late nineteenth century from the Lake Skadar basin. Surveys in recent decades have failed to find the species, and it is now considered to be extinct.
The Skadar gudgeon (Gobio skadarensis) is known only from Zeta stream and the lower Moraca River, within the Lake Skadar basin.
Lake Ammer (Ammersee in German) is a large lake located in the upper Danube basin of southern Germany (Bavaria).
The Ammersee char (Salvelinus evasus) is confined to deep waters in Lake Ammer.
The Ammersee ruffe (Gymnocephalus ambriaelacus) is a type of perch confined to Lake Ammer, where it is threatened mainly by introduced species.
The Ammersee whitefish (Coregonus bavaricus) is confined to deep waters in Lake Ammer.
Lake Ladoga is a freshwater lake located in north-western Russia near Saint Petersburg. It is the largest lake in Europe.
The Ladoga ringed seal (Pusa hispida ladogensis) is confined to Lake Ladoga, where it is threatened by human disturbance.
The Ladoga whitefish (Coregonus baerii) is threatened by overfishing and damning of its spawning rivers.
The Tagus River
The Tagus River (Rio Tajo in Spanish/Río Tejo in Portuguese) is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula. It has its origins in east-central Spain and flows directly west through Portugal to the Atlantic Ocean.
The Lisbon arch-mouthed nase (Iberochondrostoma olisiponensis) is confined to three small tributaries within the lower Tagus River drainage of Portugal.
The Arrago River
The Arrago River is located in western Spain.
The Alagón spined loach (Cobitis vettonica) is confined to the Arrago River.
The Gallo River
The Gallo River is located in central Spain.
The Gallo chub (Squalius castellanus) is known from specimens collected from the Gallo River and its main tributaries, the Bullones and Arandilla rivers. It is threatened mainly by pollution from the city of Molina de Aragon.
The Guadiana River
The Guadiana River flows through central Spain before turning south along a southern stretch of the Portugal–Spain border and emptying into the Atlantic.
The small-headed barbel (Luciobarbus microcephalus) is largely confined to the Guadiana River drainage, where it is threatened by dam construction, pollution, water extraction, and introduced species. It occurs as well in a small stretch of the Tajo River, where it was most likely introduced.
The Iberian minnowcarp (Anaecypris hispanica) is confined to the Guadiana River drainage.
The Guadalquivir River
The Guadalquivir River is located in south-central Spain.
The Guadalquivir chub (Iberocypris palaciosi) is confined to the Guadalquivir River drainage.
The Jándula River
The Jándula River is a tributary of the Guadalquivir River.
The Jándula arch-mouthed nase (Iberochondrostoma oretanum) is confined to the Robledillo and Fresnada rivers, small tributaries of the Jándula River.
The Danube River
The Danube is Europe’s second largest river drainage, being roughly twice the size of California. The river flows over 2857 km from Germany’s Black Forest to the shores of the Black Sea.
The Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) is found patchily throughout the Danube River drainage, with very few selfsustaining populations. The species has been locally introduced to Lake Constance in Germany, the Vistula River in Poland, the Tagus River in Spain, the Rhône River in France, and most likely other drainages where it apparently maintains only through stocking.
The Arges River
The Arges River is located in southern Romania.
The sculpin-perch (Romanichthys valsanicola) was formerly known from the upper Arges River and its tributaries, the Vâlsan and Râul Doamnei. It is now known only from a single 1-km stretch of the upper Vâlsan, where the population is entirely reliant upon the amount of water released by a reservoir immediately upstream.
The Arges sculpin (Cottus transsilvaniae) is known only from its original collection from the upper Arges River in 1998.
The Beli Vit River
The Beli Vit River is located in north-western Bulgaria.
The Beli Vit sculpin (Cottus haemusi) is known only from its original collection from the Beli Vit River in the 1980s.
The Danube Delta
The Danube delta is located in south-western Romania and south-eastern Ukraine.
Antipa’s gudgeon (Romanogobio antipai) was historically found in the Danube delta. Last recorded in the 1960s, it is now considered to be extinct although the reason for this remains unknown.
The Danube delta dwarf goby (Knipowitschia cameliae) is known only from a single small, brackish lagoon south of the Danube delta in Romania. Last recorded in 1994, it is possibly extinct.
The Rhine River
The Rhine is the second longest river in central and western Europe (after the Danube). It runs from Switzerland to the North Sea.
Lake Constance (Bodensee in German) is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. It consists of three bodies of water: Upper Lake Constance, Lower Lake Constance, and a connecting stretch of river.
Gmelin’s whitefish (Coregonus gutturosus) was historically endemic to the deeper waters of Lake Constance. An important commercial species in the 1960s, it is thought to have become extinct in the 1970s when eutrophication of the lake reached its peak. Kottelat’s whitefish (C. arenicolus) still survives in the lake, where it is threatened by hybridization with a more common species.
The Lake Constance deepwater char (Salvelinus profundus) is confined to the deeper waters of Lake Constance. It was thought to have gone extinct during the 1970s due to eutrophication, but was unexpectedly rediscovered in 2016.
The Rhône River
One of the major rivers of Europe, the Rhône rises in the Swiss Alps. After passing through Lake Geneva, it runs down through south-eastern France before dividing near its mouth with the Mediterranean at Arles. The resulting delta constitutes the Camargue wetland region.
The Rhône streber (Zingel asper) is confined to four fragmented subpopulations in the rivers Durance and Beaume, Rhône River drainage, with no hope of connectivity between them owing to dam construction. It is threatened by pollution.
The Neretva River
The Neretva River is located in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
The Neretva nase (Chondrostoma knerii) is confined to the main channel of the Neretva River.
The Imotski chub (Squalius microlepis) is confined to two lakes and a few small karstic streams within the Neretva River drainage.
The Mostar minnow (Phoxinellus pseudalepidotus) is known only from a single stream within the Neretva River drainage of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Neretva spined loach (Cobitis narentana) is confined to the Neretva River drainage.
The Norin River
The Norin River is a small karstic stream located in southern Croatia.
The Norin dwarf goby (Knipowitschia radovici) is confined to the Norin River.
The Pinios River
The Pinios River is located in east-central Greece.
The Thessaly gudgeon (Gobio feraeensis) was historically found in the Pinios and Karla lakes within the Pinios River drainage, but has been extirpated from the latter when it was largely drained for agriculture.
The Thessaly dwarf goby (Knipowitschia thessala) is confined to the Pinios River catchment.
The Krka River
The Krka River is located in coastal Croatia.
Tursky’s dace (Telestes turskyi) is confined to Lake Busko Blato in Bosnia-Herzegovina and to the Cikola River, a tributary of the Krka River in southern Croatia. It was thought to be extinct until rediscovered in 2002.
The Vrba minnow (Phoxinellus dalmaticus) is confined to Vrba Creek, on the Cikola tributary of the upper Krka River drainage.
Lake Visovac is located in the lower Krka River drainage. Mrakovcic’s dwarf goby (Knipowitschia mrakovcici) is confined to Lake Visovac.
The Cikola River
The Cikola River is located in north-western Croatia.
The Cikola dace (Telestes polylepis) is today confined to a single karstic stream within the Cikola River drainage, but was formerly more widespread.
The Cetina River
The Cetina River is located in southern Croatia and western Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Cetina dace (Telestes ukliva) is confined to the Cetina River drainage in Croatia, where it was thought to have gone extinct in the 1980s. It was rediscovered in 1997.
The Cetina spined loach (Cobitis dalmatina) is confined to the Cetina River drainage.
The Ceyhan River
The Ceyhan River (historically known as the Pyramus) is located in south-central Turkey.
The Ceyhan spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus zekayi) is confined to streams, springs, and lakes within the middle Ceyhan River drainage.
The Ceyhan chub (Squalius seyhanensis) is known only from two localities within the upper Ceyhan River drainage.
The Ceyhan spined loach (Cobitis evreni) is known only from three stream catchments of the middle Ceyhan River drainage.
The Cilician sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus seyhanicola) and the Elbistan stone loach (O. ceyhanensis) are both endemic to the Ceyhan River drainage.
The Zamanti River
The Zamanti River is a headwater stream in the Ceyhan River watershed.
The Zamanti sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus seyhanensis) and the Zamanti stone loach (Barbatula samantica) are confined to the Zamanti River, where they are threatened by water extraction, pollution, and drought.
The Caysuyu River
The Caysuyu River is a tributary stream of the Ceyhan River located in Kayseri province.
The Caysuyu stone loach (Barbatula tschaiyssuensis) is confined to the Caysuyu River, where it is threatened by water extraction, pollution, and drought.
The Buyuk Menderes River
The Buyuk Menderes River (Büyük Menderes Irmagi in Turkish, and historically known as the Maeander) is located in south-western Turkey. General threats include pollution, water extraction, and dam construction.
The Menderes barbel (Luciobarbus kottelati) is confined to the Buyuk Menderes drainage.
The Isikli nase (Chondrostoma meandrense) is confined to the Buyuk Menderes drainage, where it is most abundant in Lake Isikli.
The Apamean spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus maeandri) is confined to two springs within the upper Buyuk Menderes drainage.
The Isikli gudgeon (Gobio maeandricus) appears to be absent from Lake Isikli itself, but is known from two separate inflowing spring systems and some additional spring-fed streams elsewhere.
The Isparta algae-eater (Crossocheilus klatti) is known from the Kopu River drainage and Lake Isikli basin in the upper Buyuk Menderes drainage. It formerly inhabited lakes Egirdir and Golcuk, but is now believed to have been extirpated there.
The Menderes sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus cinicus) is known only from a single imprecise type locality, most likely within the Buyuk Menderes drainage.
Lake Isikli (Isikli Golu in Turkish) is located within the upper Buyuk Menderes drainage.
The chocolate chub (Squalius carinus) is confined to the Lake Isikli basin, where it appears to be absent from the lake itself but is known from two separate inflowing spring systems and some spring-fed streams near Dinar.
The Isikli sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus mesudae) is known from four springs and spring-fed streams within the Lake Isikli basin. While still abundant, the water level is declining steadily due mainly to extraction, and several small springs where it presumably once occurred have already dried out.
The Upper Euphrates River
The Euphrates is the longest river in western Asia. It originates on the Armenian Plateau of Armenia, Azerbaijan, northwestern Iran, and eastern Turkey, from where it flows south through Syria and Iraq to the Persian Gulf.
Firat’s spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus firati) is known only from two widely separated localities in central and eastern Turkey.
The Erzurum sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus araxensis) and the Mancilik stone loach (O. paucilepis) are each confined to a few streams within the upper Euphrates drainage of Turkey.
The Upper Tigris River
The upper Tigris is located primarily within the Taurus Mountains of south-eastern Turkey.
The Yuksekova River is an endorheic basin nested within the upper Tigris River catchment of south-eastern Turkey (Hakkari province).
The Yuksekova chub (Petroleuciscus kurui) is confined to the Yüksekova River drainage.
The Batman River is a major tributary of the upper Tigris River located in south-eastern Turkey.
The Diyarbakir loach (Paraschistura chrysicristinae) is known from two localities within the Batman River, but has not been recorded since the 1970s. It is possibly extinct, though the reason for its disappearance is unknown.
The Göksu spined loach (Cobitis kellei) is known only from its original collection from the Göksu stream in 1974. Not recorded during more recent surveys, it is thought that the construction of a dam may have driven it extinct.
The Queiq River (also known as the Aleppo River) is located in south-eastern Turkey and northern Syria. It has been largely desiccated by drought and water extraction.
The Halap sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus tigris) was historically found throughout the Quieq River drainage but is now known only from a single stream, only a few hundred metres long between two reservoirs, in south-eastern Turkey.
The Chornaya River
The Chornaya River is a small river on the Crimean Peninsula.
The Chornaya tubenose goby (Proterorhinus tataricus), Chornaya gudgeon (Gobio delyamurei) and Chornaya spined loach (Cobitis taurica) are all confined to a very limited stretch (about 1 km in length) of this drainage, below the Chornaya Gorge. Water extraction and drought threaten to dry up their habitat entirely.
The Amur River
The Amur River flows for nearly 3000 km from the mountains of northern China and south-eastern Russia before finally emptying into the North Pacific. During the summer monsoon rains flood parts of the river, although for six months in the winter and spring large portions are frozen.
The kaluga (Huso dauricus), a type of sturgeon, is one of the largest freshwater fishes in the world and capable of attaining a length of 5.6 m and at least 1000 kg in weight. Still found in small numbers throughout the Amur River drainage and perhaps in coastal waters, it has been fished to near extinction for its valuable roe.
The Amur sturgeon (Acipenser schrenckii) is another enormous freshwater fish species that often reaches a length of up to 3 m and a weight of over 190 kg. Still found throughout the entire Amur River drainage from its estuary to the upper tributaries, it has nevertheless declined steadily since the end of the nineteenth century due to overfishing and is now considered to be seriously threatened.
Miscellaneous Lakes, Rivers, and Marshes
Lake Bourget (Lac du Bourget in French) is a large, deep lake located in the southernmost end of the Jura Mountains in France.
The Bourget whitefish (Coregonus bezola) was a deep-water species that went extinct in the 1960s according to local fishermen.
Lake Morat (Lac de Morat in French/Murtensee in German) is located in western Switzerland.
The Morat whitefish (Coregonus restrictus) was last recorded in 1890. Surveys in the 1950s found no whitefish at all, and in recent years a related species has been introduced to the lake.
Lake Breiter Luzin (Breiter Luzin in German) is located in northern Germany.
The Breiter Luzin whitefish (Coregonus lucinensis) is confined to the lake. During the 1970s the population declined heavily due to eutrophication, but has since improved along with the water quality.
Lake Cheim (Cheimsee in German) is a glacial, pre-alpine lake located in southern Germany.
The Cheimsee whitefish (Coregonus hoferi) was last recorded in the 1940s, although fishermen indicated its presence in the lake up until the late 1980s. It is likely extinct.
Lake Atter (Attersee in German) is a large lake located in northern Austria.
The Attersee whitefish (Coregonus atterensis) is historically confined to the lake, with an additional introduced population in nearby Lake Mond. It is threatened by competition from introduced fish species.
Lake Traun (Traunsee in German) is located in northern Austria.
The Traunsee whitefish (Coregonus danneri) is confined to the lake, where it is threatened by competition from introduced fish species.
Lake Garda (Lago di Garda in Italian) is a large glacial lake in northern Italy.
The Garda trout (Salmo carpio) is historically endemic to the lake, where it is seriously threatened by introduced species. It has, however, been introduced into a number of other lakes both in Italy and elsewhere.
Lake Posta Fibreno (Lago di Posta Fibreno in Italian) is located in central Italy. It is an elongated karstic lake rich in underground springs and caves.
The Fibreno trout (Salmo fibreni) is confined to the lake and its tributaries. Lake Doiran (Límni Dhoiráni in Greek) is located on the Greece/North Macedonia border.
The Doiran bleak (Alburnus macedonicus) is confined to Lake Doiran. Lake Pamvotida is a large lake located in north-western Greece.
The Pamvotida minnow (Pelasgus epiroticus) is confined to Lake Pamvotida, where it has declined considerably in recent decades due to overfishing, pollution, and introduced species.
Lake Yliki (Limni Yliki in Greek) is located in central Greece.
The Greek rudd (Scardinius graecus) is confined to the lake, where it is threatened by large fluctuations in water level. Lake Volvi (Límni Vólvi in Greek) is located in northeastern Greece. Ongoing threats include introduced species, water extraction for irrigation, and eutrophication.
Two species, the Macedonian shad (Alosa macedonica) and the Volvi bleak (Alburnus volvitticus), are nowadays endemic to the lake. Formerly both were also found in Lake Koronia, but in 1995 the latter dried up, killing all the fish. Lake Techirghiol is a hypersaline lake located in coastal south-eastern Romania.
The Techirghiol stickleback (Gasterosteus crenobiontus) was historically confined to freshwater springs of Lake Techirghiol. Hybridization with the three-spined stickleback (G. aculeatus) led to its extinction in the 1960s.
Lake Mandras (Mandrensko ezero in Bulgarian) is located in eastern Bulgaria.
The Mandras bleak (Alburnus mandrensis) is confined to the Lake Mandras basin, where it is threatened by pollution and the impoundment of its spawning streams.
Lake Iznik (Iznik Golu in Turkish) is located in northwestern Turkey (Bursa province).
The Iznik bleak (Alburnus nicaeensis) was known only from the Lake Iznik basin. Alien species stocked into the lake to improve fisheries yields likely led to its extinction. It has not been reported since the late twentieth century despite several intensive searches.
The Iznik sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus phoxinoides) is confined to just one small stream in the Lake Iznik basin.
Lake Acigol (Acigol Golu in Turkish) is a located in westcentral Anatolia, Turkey. The Acigol toothcarp (Aphanius transgrediens) was, prior to the 1970s, found throughout Lake Acigol and its catchment basin. The lake has since dried up, and today the species is confined to a single small spring field and a few short feeder streams.
Lake Apolyond (Apolyond Golu in Turkish) is located in western Anatolia, Turkey, within the Sea of Marmara basin.
The Apolyond sprat (Clupeonella muhlisi) is confined to Lake Apolyond.
Lake Golcuk (Golcuk Golu in Turkish) is a small mountain lake in east-central Turkey (Izmir province).
The Golcuk toothcarp (Aphanius splendens) was known only from Lake Golcuk. The year of its extinction is unknown, but it had already disappeared by the 1980s.
Lake Kezenoi-am is located in the Caucasus Mountains of south-western Russia (Chechnya).
The Kezenoi-am trout (Salmo ezenami) was historically endemic to Lake Kezenoiam, although it appears to have been introduced into Lake Mochokh (Daghestan) in the early 1960s.
Lake Abrau is a small karst lake located near the Black Sea coast of south-western Russia.
The Abrau sprat (Clupeonella abrau) is confined to Lake Abrau, where it is threatened by water extraction and introduced species.
Lake Balkhash is located mainly in south-eastern Kazakhstan. One of the largest lakes in Asia, like the Aral Sea it is shrinking owing to the diversion of water from the rivers that feed it. It used to have a rich fish fauna with a number of endemic species, but since the 1970s biodiversity has been declining.
The Balkhash perch (Perca schrenkii) occurs in Lake Balkhash and the Alakol lake group, where it is threatened by the introduction of a predatory fish.
Lake Elgygytgyn is an impact crater lake located in the Chukchi region of north-eastern Siberia.
The long-finned char (Salvethymus svetovidovi) and the Elgygtgyn char (S. elgyticus) are confined to the lake.
The Mira River (Rio Mira in Portuguese) is located is southern Portugal.
The Torgal chub (Squalius torgalensis) is confined to the Torgal tributary of the Mira River. The Douro River (Rio Doero in Spanish/Rio Douro in Portuguese) is located in north-western Spain and northern Portugal.
The Sarda minnow (Achondrostoma salmantinum) is confined to the Águeda, Yeltes, Turones, and Uces tributaries of the Douro River drainage of western Spain (Salamanca province).
The Júcar River (Rio Jucar in Spanish) is located in eastcentral Spain. The Júcar nase (Parachondrostoma arrigonis) is confined to the Júcar River drainage.
The Lez River (Le Lez in French) is located in southern France near Montpellier.
The Lez sculpin (Cottus petiti) is confined to a short (3 km) stretch of this coastal river, from its karstic springs source to the Lirou tributary.
The Hérault River (L’Hérault in French) is a small coastal drainage in southern France.
Rondelet’s sculpin (Cottus rondeleti) is confined to three stretches of stream (each only a few hundred metres long) within the Hérault River.
The Jadova River is located in western Croatia.
The Jadova minnow (Delminichthys jadovensis) and the Jadova spined loach (Cobitis jadovaensis) are both confined to a single ephemeral stream within the Jadova River drainage.
The Dragonja River is located in Slovenia and Croatia.
The Istrian chub (Squalius janae) is confined to the upper Dragonja River.
The Vardar River (historically known as the Axios River) is located in Greece and North Macedonia.
The Balkan streber (Zingel balcanicus) is known only from a few specimens collected in the Vardar River drainage.
The Macedonian trout (Salmo macedonicus) is confined to the upper Vardar River drainage.
The Moraca River is located in Montenegro, where it arises in the mountains of the north-east and empties into Lake Skadar.
The Zeta trout (Salmo taleri) is confined to the upper Moraca drainage and its tributary, the Zeta River. It is threatened by hybridization with introduced brown trout (S. trutta).
The Provadiskaya River is located in Bulgaria.
The Varna gudgeon (Gobio kovatschevi) is confined to the Provadiskaya River.
The Struma River is located in Bulgaria and Greece.
The Struma spined loach (Cobitis punctilineata) is confined to the Aggitis stream, a tributary of the Struma River in northern Greece.
The Aoös River is located in north-western Greece and south-western Albania.
The Pindus sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus pindus) is confined to the Aoös River drainage.
The Arachthos River is located in north-western Greece.
The Arachthos spined loach (Cobitis arachthosensis) is confined to the Arachthos River drainage.
The Louros River is located in north-western Greece.
The Louros spined loach (Cobitis hellenica) is confined to the Louros River drainage.
The Acheron River is located in western Greece.
The Acheron dwarf goby (Knipowitschia milleri) is confined to the Acheron River delta.
The Eurotas River (also known as the Evrotas) is located on the Peloponnese Peninsula of southern Greece.
The Eurotas chub (Squalius keadicus) is confined to the Eurotas River. It is threatened by pollution and the seasonal drying of the river.
The Kucuk Menderes River is located in western Turkey. It is heavily desiccated in its upper reaches and heavily polluted in the lower ones.
The Ephesus dwarf goby (Knipowitschia ephesi) is confined to the delta and marshes of the lowermost Kucuk Menderes.
The Bakircay River is located in western Turkey.
The Bakircay bleak (Alburnus attalus) is confined to a few tributaries of the Bakircay River, where it is threatened by water extraction and pollution.
The Tahtali River is located in western coastal Turkey.
Kosswig’s chub (Squalius kosswigi) is nowadays confined to the Tahtali River, although it may have formerly occurred (or still occur) in the Kucuk Menderes River drainage as well.
The Onaç River is located in south-western Turkey.
The Onaç spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus ninae) is confined to the Onaç stream drainage.
The Gediz River (Gediz Nehri in Turkish) is located in south-western Turkey.
The Simav sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus simavica) is confined to Simav stream, a tributary of the Gediz River.
The Koprucay River is located in south-central Turkey, where it drains into the Bay of Antalya.
The Pisidian spring minnow (Pseudophoxinus fahrettini) is confined to some headwater tributaries and a spring within the Koprucay River drainage.
The Akgol-Eregli Marshes are located in south-central Turkey.
The Akgol-Eregli stone loach (Barbatula eregliensis) is confined to the Akgol-Eregli marshes.
The Aksu River is located in north-eastern Turkey.
The Aksu goby (Ponticola turani) is confined to a few streams within the Aksu drainage.
The Lenkoran River is located within the Caspian Sea basin of Azerbaijan.
The Lenkoran sportive loach (Oxynoemacheilus lenkoranensis) is confined to the Lenkoran River.
The Lena River is located in eastern Siberia. One of the longest rivers in the world, it rises west of Lake Baikal in southern Russia and flows north for some 4400 km before finally emptying into the Arctic Ocean. At its mouth into the Laptev Sea in northern Siberia, the river forms a huge delta of 32,000 km2, which is the largest Arctic delta and the most extensive protected wilderness area in Russia.
Baunt’s whitefish (Coregonus sardinella baunti) is confined to the Vitim River, a tributary of the Lena River.
The Penzhina River is located in Kamchatka, Russia.
The Penzhina whitefish (Coregonus subautumnalis) lives in the Sea of Okhotsk, from where it migrates up the Penzhina River to spawn. It is threatened by overfishing.
Coasts and Satellite Islands
This section includes the coastal areas and islands of western and north-western Europe, the Russian Far East, the Mediterranean shore of southern Europe, and the majority of the islands within the Mediterranean Sea.
The sandy mole-rat (Spalax arenarius) is found only along the lower Dnepr River sands in southern Ukraine, with the main part of the population lying within the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve.
The Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) is a type of seabird that can still be found throughout the northern Atlantic on rocky coasts and offshore islands, but has experienced rapid declines across its range.
The spotted greenshank (Tringa guttifer) is a type of wading bird that breeds along the south-western and northern coasts of the Sea of Okhotsk, and possibly along western Kamchatka and Sakhalin. At other times the species migrates south across south and South East Asia as far as Sri Lanka and Australia. The total population is very small, however, and threatened by development of coastal wetlands throughout its range.
The Yelkouan shearwater (Puffinus yelkouan) is a type of seabird that breeds on islands and coastal cliffs along the central and eastern Mediterranean coast. It is threatened by habitat destruction, fisheries by-catch, and introduced species.
Audouin’s gull (Larus audouinii) is found patchily in breeding colonies along the coasts and islands of the Mediterranean, where it was at one time threatened by eggrobbing fishermen. Numbers have since recovered to safe levels.
The Azores are a remote archipelago located in the North Atlantic some 1360 km west of Portugal. Like so many other volcanic islands, they appear to rise directly from the ocean floor. First discovered by the Portuguese in 1431 and long colonized, the unique laurel forests that once covered them have been almost completely destroyed.
The Azores noctule (Nyctalus azoreum) is a type of bat confined to the Azores, where it is still relatively abundant although vulnerable owing to its small range.
Monteiro’s storm petrel (Hydrobates monteiroi) is only known to breed on a few small islets in the Azores. It is thought to remain in the vicinity of these islands during the non-breeding season.
The Azores wood pigeon (Columba palumbus azorica) is rare but still occurs on a number of islands.
São Miguel is the largest and most populous island in the Azores.
The São Miguel scops owl (Otus frutuosoi) probably became extinct after European settlement due to habitat destruction and the introduction of alien species.
The Azores bullfinch (Pyrrhula murina) is confined to one small area of remnant cloud forest in the mountains of São Miguel, where it is considered stable. The total population is around 250.
The British Isles
The British Isles are an archipelago in the northern Atlantic consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and thousands of smaller ones. Animal and plant life are similar to that of the north-western Europe.
Great Britain is the largest of the British Isles and indeed the largest island in Europe. Threatened vertebrate species consist almost entirely of freshwater fishes.
The chars (Salvelinus) are a group of salmonid fish with a circumpolar distribution. Most are typically cold-water fish that primarily inhabit freshwater, though some also migrate to the sea. The following species have very localized distributions and are considered threatened. The golden char (S. youngeri) is known from Loch Eck and possibly a few other lakes in Scotland. The haddy char (S. killinensis) is confined to Loch Killin, Loch Doine, possibly Loch Builg, and a few other Scottish lakes. Malloch’s char (S. mallochi) is confined to Loch Scourie and Loch Shin, Scotland. The Ben Hope char (S. maxillaris) was long known only from its original description, but has since been found in several lakes in northern Scotland. Peris’ char (S. perisii) is known from six locations in northern Wales. The Struan char (S. struanensis) is confined to Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht in Scotland. Lonsdal’s char (S. lonsdalii) is confined to Haweswater in north-western England. Willoughby’s char (S. willoughbii) is known from Lake Windermere and possibly Ennerdale Water in northwestern England.
A number of whitefish (Coregonus) are similarly restricted in distribution. The powan (C. clupeoides) was historically confined to Loch Lomond and Lock Eck in west-central Scotland. It has since been introduced into two reservoirs in the Loch Lomond basin. The gwyniad (C. pennantii) was historically confined to Llyn Tegid (Lake Bala) in northern Wales, where it is threatened by declining water quality and introduced species. It has been introduced into nearby Llyn Arenig. The vendace (C. vandesius) was historically found in lakes Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite in north-western England, and Castle Loch and Mill Loch in south-western Scotland. The two Scottish populations have since been extirpated, although another has been introduced into Loch Skene. The schelly (C. stigmaticus) is confined to four lakes in north-western England (Haweswater, Ullswater, Brotherswater, and Red Tarn).
The Shetland Islands are a subarctic archipelago located north-east of Scotland.
The Shetland char (Salvelinus gracillimus) was long known only from Loch of Girlsta in Shetland, but may occur in Loch More and possibly other lakes in northern Scotland.
The Inner Hebrides are a small archipelago located off the western coast of Scotland.
The Orkney char (Salvelinus inframundus) is nowadays confined to Loch Mealt on the Isle of Skye. It formerly occurred in Heldale Water on Hoy Island, in the Orkney Islands, but has not been recorded there since 1908.
The St. Kilda Islands are an isolated archipelago located 64 km west of the Outer Hebrides.
The St. Kilda house mouse (Mus musculus muralis) evolved on the tiny island of Hirta, where it was entirely dependent upon the presence of humans. It died out soon after all the people were evacuated from Hirta in 1930.
The St Kilda wren (Troglodytes troglodytes hirtensis) is confined to the St. Kilda Islands, where the total population is around 500.
Fair Isle is a tiny island located between the main Shetland Islands and Orkney. It is the most remote inhabited island in the United Kingdom.
The Fair Isle wren (Troglodytes troglodytes fridariensis) has a breeding population of from 10 to 50 pairs adapted to life on boulder beaches. The slightest environmental interference would likely prove to be devastating.
Ireland is located west of Great Britain and is the second largest of the British Isles. As with Great Britain all of the threatened vertebrate species are freshwater fishes.
The pollan (Coregonus pollan) is a type of whitefish confined to just five lakes (Lough Neagh, lower Lough Erne, Lough Ree, Lough Derg, and Lough Allen) in central Eire and Northern Ireland. However, the only remaining sustainable populations are those of Lough Neagh and Lough Allen, the rest relying upon continued restocking.
The blunt-snouted char (Salvelinus obtusus) was historically found in a number of lakes in eastern and south-western Eire, but has disappeared from most if not all of them due to eutrophication and pollution. It was last recorded from Lough Muckross in 1904, Lough Tay in 1908, Lough Dan in 1988, and Lough Leane in 1999. Surveys in Lough Accose in 1983, meanwhile, failed to find any char.
Lough Melvin is located in north-western Ireland, on the border between Eire and Northern Ireland.
Gray’s char (Salvelinus grayi) is confined to Lough Melvin, where it has been declining for decades due to eutrophication and introduced species.
Two species of trout, the gillaroo (Salmo stomachicus), and the sonaghen (S. nigripinnis) are also endemic to Lough Melvin.
Lough Coomasaharn is a small oligotrophic lake located in south-western Ireland (Eire).
The Coomsahar char (Salvelinus fimbriatus) is confined to Lough Coomasaharn.
Lough Leane is located in south-western Ireland (Eire).
The Killarney shad (Alosa killarnensis) is confined to Lough Leane, where it is seriously threatened by eutrophication and introduced species.
Sakhalin is a large island located in the northern Pacific off the eastern coast of Russia and north of Japan.
The Sakhalin musk deer (Moschus moschiferus sachalinensis) is confined to Sakhalin.
The Sakhalin vole (Microtus sachalinensis) is confined to northern and central parts of the island, where it may be potentially affected by oil infrastructure development projects.
Bering Island is located in the Bering Sea off the Kamchatka Peninsula.
The spectacled cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus), the largest known species of cormorant, was almost flightless and therefore easy prey for hunters. It was exterminated by about 1852.
Located south of the Italian Peninsula, Sicily (Sicilia in Italian) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an often-quoted example of man-made deforestation, which has occurred since Roman times when the island was turned into an agricultural region. This gradually dried the climate, leading in turn to a decline in rainfall and the drying up of rivers. The central and western parts are practically devoid of forest. Not surprisingly, there is little in the way of endemic fauna remaining.
The Sicilian grey wolf (Canis lupus cristaldii) was a slender, short-legged subspecies that was likely driven extinct due to human persecution in the 1920s, although there were several possible sightings up until the 1970s.
The Sicilian pond turtle (Emys trinacris) is confined to the remaining wetlands of Sicily, where it appears to be relatively abundant.
Corsica and Sardinia
The islands of Corsica and Sardinia and here considered together, as they are geographically close and share much of the same fauna.
The Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) is a small subspecies that is thought to have been introduced to Corsica and Sardinia by humans around 8000 years ago. It underwent a dramatic decline on Corsica and was extirpated there in 1969, after which the only remaining population (around 100) lived on Sardinia. Captive breeding and better protection enabled the animals to slowly recover on the latter island and, eventually, to be successfully reintroduced to Corsica.
The Sardinian pika (Prolagus sardus), a type of small, tailless mammal, historically occurred on Corsica, Sardinia, and a few satellite islands. Last seen in 1774, it is considered to be extinct.
Bedriaga’s rock lizard (Archaeolacerta bedriagae) has a highly fragmented distribution on Corsica, Sardinia, and a few satellite islands.
Corsica (Corse in French) is located south-east of France and west of Italy. Roughly two-thirds of this large island is comprised of a single mountain chain.
The Corsican nuthatch (Sitta whiteheadi) is confined to areas of Corsican pine, which occurs in fragments on the island’s mountain ridges.
The Corsican painted frog (Discoglossus montalentii) is endemic to the central mountains.
Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian) is located south of Corsica. It is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Sardinian long-eared bat (Plecotus sardus) is confined to forest fragments on Sardinia.
The Sardinian barred grass snake (Natrix helvetica cetti) is confined to Sardinia.
The Sardinian brook salamander (Euproctus platycephalus) is a rare species found only in eastern Sardinia between the Limbara Mountains in the north and the Sette Fratelli Mountains in the south.
Several species of European cave salamander (Speleomantes) are endemic to various areas of Sardinia, where they are threatened by loss of habitat and illegal collection for the international pet trade. The Supramonte cave salamander (S. supramontis) is confined to central-eastern Sardinia. Gene’s cave salamander (S. genei) occurs in south-western Sardinia.The imperial cave salamander (S. imperialis) is confined to central and eastern Sardinia. The Monte Albo cave salamander (S. flavus) is found within the Monte Albo Mountains of north-eastern Sardinia. The Sarrabus cave salamander (S. sarrabusensis) is found around Monte dei Sette Fratelli in extreme south-eastern Sardinia.
The Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are located in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey. They are traditionally comprised of seven different island groups.
Euboea (Evvoia in Greek) is the second largest island in Greece, after Crete.
The Manikiotikos barbel (Barbus euboicus) is a type of freshwater fish confined to a single stream on the southern part of Euboea, where during the dry season it is often reduced to only a few intermittent pools.
The Sporades Islands
The Sporades (Vóries Sporádhes in Greek) are an archipelago along the eastern coast of Greece, north-east of the island of Euboea in the Aegean Sea. They consist of 24 islands, only 4 of which are permanently inhabited.
Two subspecies of Sporades wall lizard (Podarcis gaigeae) are endemic to a few of the Sporades Islands. The Skyros wall lizard (P. g. gaigeae) is confined to Skyros and associated islets, while Weigand’s wall lizard (P. g. weigandi) is confined to the island of Piperi.
Crete (Kríti in Greek) is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea and is the largest of the Greek islands. It is elongated in shape and mountainous, with a large number of islets surrounding the coast. The island has long been isolated from mainland Europe, Asia, and Africa, and this is reflected in the diversity of its fauna. Dwarf forms of elephant, mammoth, hippopotamus, and deer, along with giant flightless owls, were all native here during the Pleistocene Period.
The Cretan shrew (Crocidura zimmermanni) is known from a few localities in the mountains.
Two species of wall lizard (Podarcis) are endemic to Crete and its satellite islands. The Cretan wall lizard (P. cretensis) is found on western Crete and a few small islets. The Leventis wall lizard (P. levendis) is confined to the uninhabited islets of Pori and Lagouvardos, north of the island of Antikythira, where its total population is presumably very small.
The Cretan water frog (Pelophylax cretensis) is patchily distributed in the lowlands and not particularly abundant.
The Cyclades (Kiklaoes in Greek) are a group of some 220 small islands in the Aegean Sea, south-east of mainland Greece.
Four subspecies of Cyclades wall lizard (Podarcis milensis) are endemic to various islands. The Milos wall lizard (P. m. milensis) is confined to Milos. Adolf Jordans’ wall lizard (P. m. adolfjordansi) is confined to Ananes Island west of Milos. The Gerakunia wall lizard (P. m. gerakuniae) is confined to Gerakunia (Falconera) and Velopoula.
Schweizer’s blunt-nosed viper (Macrovipera schweizeri) is confined to the western Cycladic islands of Milos, Kimolos, Polyaigos, and Syphnos.
The Dodecanese Islands
The Dodecanese (Dodekánisa in Greek) are a group of 15 larger plus 150 smaller islands located in the south-eastern Aegean Sea, off the coast of Turkey.
Helversen’s Lycian salamander (Lyciasalamandra helverseni) is confined to the islands of Karpathos, Kasos, and Saria, where it is still fairly common within its restricted range.
Rhodes (Ródos in Greek) is the largest of the Dodecanese Islands.
The Rhodes minnow (Ladigesocypris ghigii) is endemic to freshwater streams, springs, marshes, reservoirs, and pools on Rhodes, where it is threatened by habitat destruction. Karpathos is located about 47 km south-west of Rhodes.
The Karpathos water frog (Pelophylax cerigensis) is only known with certainty from a single river in the mountains of Karpathos.
Kastellorizo lies roughly 2 km off the south coast of Turkey and some 125 km east of Rhodes.
The Kastellorizo Lycian salamander (Lyciasalamandra luschani basoglui) is confined to Kastellorizo.
The Balearic Islands
The Balearic Islands (Islas Baleares in Spanish) are an archipelago of around 50 islands in the western Mediterranean near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula. The larger islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, and Formentera) are popular tourist destinations, although many of the smaller islands and islets are uninhabited.
The Balearic shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus) is a type of seabird that breeds exclusively in the Balearic Islands.
Lilford’s wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi) was historically found on the larger islands of Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza, as well as in the Cabrera Archipelago. It is believed that the introduction of cats and other predators was responsible for the extirpation of the species from the main islands, but a number of subspecies still survive on various rocky islets. These will be discussed below.
Mallorca (also known as Majorca) is the largest of the Balearic Islands.
The Sargantana wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi sargantanae) is confined to four islets off the northern coast of Mallorca (Sargantana, Ravells, Bledes, and Tusqueta).
The Mallorcan midwife toad (Alytes muletensis) is confined to the Sierra Tramuntana in northern Mallorca.
Dragonera is an islet off the northern coast of Mallorca. The Dragonera wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi gigliolii) is confined to Dragonera.
Toro is an islet off the coast of Mallorca. The Toro wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi toronis) is confined to Toro.
La Guardia is an islet off the coast of Majorca. The La Guardia wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi jordansi) is confined to La Guardia.
Malgrats is an islet off the south-western coast of Mallorca. The Malgrats wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi hartmanni) is confined to Malgrats.
Menorca (also known as Minorca) is located north-east of Mallorca.
Ratas was a tiny, rocky islet within the bay of Mahón, Menorca. The Ratas wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi rodriquezi) was confined to Ratas Island. It went extinct in 1950 after the island was destroyed during harbour reconstruction.
Rey is another tiny islet located within the bay of Mahón, Menorca. The Rey wall lizard (Podarcis lilfordi hospitalis) is confined to Rey Island. Another subspecies, Bedriaga’s wall lizard (P. l. balearica), was historically endemic to Rey Island but has been introduced to Minorca.
Addaya is an islet off the eastern coast of Menorca. The Addaya wall lizard (P. l. addayae) is confined to Addaya.
Aire is an islet off the south-eastern coast of Menorca. The Aire wall lizard (P. l. lilfordi) is confined to Aire.
Colom is an islet off Menorca. The Colom wall lizard (P. l. brauni) is confined to Colom.
Carbonera is an islet off Menorca. The Carbonera wall lizard (Podarcis l. carbonerae) is confined to Carbonera.
Colomer is an islet off the north-eastern coast of Menorca. The Colomer wall lizard (P. l. colomi) is confined to Colomer.
Binicondrell is an islet off the southern coast of Menorca. The Binicondrell wall lizard (P. l. codrellensis) is confined to Binicondrell.
Sanitja is an islet off northern Menorca. The Sanitja wall lizard (P. l. fenni) is confined to Sanitja.
Porros is an islet off the northern coast Menorca. The Porros wall lizard (P. l. porrosicola) is confined to Porros.
Ibiza is the third largest of the Balearic Islands.
The Ibiza wall lizard (P. l. zenonis) was historically confined to Ibiza, where it went extinct at some unknown date after the introduction of invasive predators.
The Cabrera Archipelago
The Cabrera Archipelago is located south of Majorca.
The Cabrera wall lizard (P. l. kuligae) is confined to Cabrera, Fonoi Gros, Fonoi Petit, and Ses Rates. The Na Redonda wall lizard (P. l. conejerae) is confined to Na Rodonda. The Xapat Gros wall lizard (P. l. xapaticola) is confined to Xapat Gros, Xapat Petit, and La Teula islands. The L’Esponge wall lizard (P. l. espongicola) is confined to L’Esponge. The Na Pobra wall lizard (P. l. pobrae) is confined to Na Pobra. The L’Imperial wall lizard (P. l. imperialensis) is confined to L’Imperial. The Na Plana wall lizard (P. l. planae) is confined to Na Plana. The Sas Bledas wall lizard (P. l. nigerrima) is confined to Sas Bledas. The Horadada wall lizard (P. l. fahrae) is confined to Horadada. The Estel de Fora wall lizard (P. l. estelicola) is confined to Estel de Fora.
The Aeolian Islands
The Aeolian Islands (Isole Eolie in Italian) are a volcanic archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea, north of Sicily. The Aeolian wall lizard (Podarcis raffonei) is confined to a few isolated areas on Volcano Island, along with a few small rocky islets (Strombolicchio, La Canna, and Scoglio Faraglione).
Santo Stefano Island (Isola di Santo Stefano in Italian) is located off the western coast of Italy. The Santo Stefano wall lizard (Podarcis siculus sanctistephani) was confined to Santo Stefano, where it became extinct in 1965 most likely due to predation by feral cats and other factors.
Corfu (Kerkyra in Greek) is located off the north-western coast of Greece. The Corfu dwarf goby (Knipowitschia goerneri) was long known only from a single freshwater spring, where it was last recorded in 1983. Surveys in the 1990s failed to find any there. In 2014 nine specimens were collected from Korission Lagoon in southern Corfu.
The Berlengas Archipelago is a group of small islands off the coast of western Portugal. The Berlengas wall lizard (Podarcis carbonelli berlengensis) is confined to the Berlenga Islands.
Shedao Island is located off the coast of Liaotung, northeastern China. The Shedao pit viper (Gloydius shedaoensis) is confined to Shedao Island.
Paramushir Island is located in the northern Kuril Islands off the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Paramushir shrew (Sorex leucogaster) is confined to Paramushir Island.
Anthropogenic effects on the flora and fauna
Widely dispersed, isolated finds of fossils and stone artefacts suggest that Homo erectus had migrated across Eurasia from Africa by around three million years ago, but he and his eventual successor Heidelberg Man (H. heidelbergensis) apparently remained quite rare. Between 600,000 and 350,000 years ago Neanderthals (H. neanderthalensis) first emerged, and are considered to be the first modern Europeans and the first to leave behind a substantial tradition, as evidenced by their cave paintings and burial practices. Modern humans (H. sapiens) arrived in Mediterranean Europe and southern Siberia from the Levant between 45,000 and 43,000 years ago, whereupon both species coexisted for several thousand years until the assimilation or extinction of the Neanderthals between 40,000 and 28,000 years ago. Humans subsequently proceeded to populate the entire continent and advanced north, following the retreating ice sheets of an ice age which spanned from 26,500 to 19,000 years ago and surviving as hunter-gatherers. After the last ice age ended around 12,500 bc temperatures and sea levels began to rise, changing the environment and creating the British Isles. Finally, about 8000 years ago a wave of ‘farmers’ arrived from the Near East and permanent settlement began.
Despite this long human settlement, particularly in western Eurasia, there had been relatively little environmental destruction within the Eurasian Region up until the modern era. While it is true that the Mediterranean countries had suffered almost complete forest loss and later soil erosion due to goats, an ecological balance was more or less maintained. Beginning in the late sixteenth century, Russian explorers began to probe ever further into the vast Siberian wilderness, reaching the Lena River by the 1620s, Lake Baikal and Sakhalin by 1643, and the Kuril Islands by 1706. However, it was not until the nineteenth century that we begin to see a major human impact. Indeed, it was primarily in Europe that the concept of conservation first originated. In 1810, the English poet William Wordsworth described the Lake District as ‘a sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy’. Even earlier, the Naples government had undertaken laws to protect natural areas, which could be used as a game reserve by the royal family. Over the past few decades there has been an ever-growing awareness of environmental issues throughout Europe and ambitious attempts at rewilding more remote areas.
In recent historical time (i.e. since ad 1500), the Eurasian Region has lost at least 18 species/12 subspecies of vertebrates. Among the extinct forms 1 species/9 subspecies are mammals, 2 species are birds, 3 subspecies are reptiles, and 15 species are freshwater fishes. Another 6 species are possibly extinct. In addition, there are 459 species/94 subspecies currently threatened with extinction (that is to say, either Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable according to the IUCN Red List, as well as certain forms either listed as Data Deficient or Not Assessed but which are clearly at some risk of extinction). Of these, 55 species/47 subspecies are mammals, 19 species/5 subspecies are birds, 42 species/33 subspecies are reptiles, 38 species/7 subspecies are amphibians and 305 species/2 subspecies are freshwater fishes.