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The Mediterranean world exists. It might seem banal to point this out, but it is not. The Mediterranean world exists for everyone in a geographical sense, but the idea is more open to debate if the cultural dimensions are considered. It is by no means clear that there is a single Mediterranean culture, which would have to be European and African, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, Roman and Greek, as well as Carthaginian, Byzantine, and Iberian. And it is even less clear that there is a biogeographical Mediterranean world, not only around the Mediterranean Sea, but also overseas, in the four corners of the planet. This ecological Mediterranean world exists, although the fact is little known, and thus it is not a commonplace to state it.

This presentation is not intended to be a summary of the text it introduces, so it would be inappropriate to explain the characteristics and the geographical distribution of the Mediterranean areas. The aim of this introduction is to point out the relative novelty of the concept of ecological Mediterranean-ness. It is not a new idea to experts in biogeography, but it is new to the general public, even those who are considered well educated. Concepts such as the rainforest or hot desert are generally accepted internationally, to a far greater extent than that of the Mediterranean. Whether it is in the Amazon, in Zaire, or in Indonesia, the tropical rainforest is universally considered to be a specific environment, and the fact that it is distributed over three continents does not make this idea any less valid. In the same way, the desert is the desert, whether it is in the Sahara, in Australia or in Arizona. How then should we approach the Mediterranean-ness of Chile or California?

The absence of a general habit of considering ecological Mediterranean-ness as a global phenomenon is clearly shown by the fact there is no word for it. It is necessary to use cumbersome phrases like the "Mediterranean world" or the "Mediterranean areas," which are provisional, inconvenient and not very practical solutions. This problem has been around for a long time because the "Mediterranean lands" take their name from a sea, and this sea takes its name from those lands; the Mediterranean sea is the sea that lies in the midst of the Mediterranean countries. In the face of all this confusion, the best solution is not to hide behind circumlocutions and so this volume talks unashamedly about the mediterraneans, creating a new noun by the simple method of generalizing what until now has been a particular, special world. Mediterranean, like the jungle or the desert, is the term used for one of the Earth's bioclimatic regions, or biomes. There is a Mediterranean in California, one in central Chile, one at the southern tip of the African continent, one in southern Australia, and around the Mediterranean itself. The solution we have adopted is a little startling, and both the new concept and the new term require a small, but worthwhile, effort to get used to. This volume will help.

It will help because it deals with the different Mediterraneans around the world, i.e. the Mediterranean biome. This volume is mostly written by Catalans for obvious reasons: Encyclopedia of the Biosphere is prepared and coordinated in Barcelona, and Barcelona is part of the Mediterranean world, in strictly geographical terms, as well as culturally, biogeographically, and ecologically. In the same way as the entire work avoids anthropocentric (and misanthropic) attitudes, this volume aims to consider the Mediterraneans as a whole, without giving undue attention to the area where it was written. In spite of this, the Mediterranean Basin enjoys a special treatment in this volume, because there is more information available, its area is objectively much larger than the other Mediterraneans and it has a longer historical background. We have tried not to exacerbate this bias with a subjective treatment.

In any case, it was in this basin that the biogeographical unity, and the specific climate and ecology of the Mediterraneans was first recognized. Since long ago, and especially since the Renaissance, it has been obvious to European botanists that there are conspicuous differences between the flora of the Mediterranean Basin (the flora the classical Greek and Roman authors had described) and that of central Europe. A.P. de Candolle, born in Geneva and thus central European, expressed this clearly when he dedicating the third edition of the Flore Francaise (1805) to Lamarck, "..ces pays fertiles sont places sous un ciel different du notre a bien des egards" (these fertile countries lie, from more than one point of view, under a different sky from ours). Augustin Pyrame de Candolle was the first to map a part, the French part, of "the space occupied by the type of plants that I would call Mediterranean, because they are found in almost all the countries around the Mediterranean." This map appeared in the second volume of the Flore Francaise which he published in 1805 with Lamarck. Later exploration of Algeria by the Comission Scientifique de l'Algerie (1840-1844) confirmed his intuition about the phytogeographic unity of the basin's southern and northern shores. The similarities in climate and vegetation between eastern Algeria and southern and insular Italy, between the region surrounding Algiers and Provence, between the area around Oran and both Murcia and Andalusia led to the scientific recognition that the Mediterranean Basin was a biogeographical unit. In the middle of the 19th century books on geography, botany, natural history, and even guide books, talked about the Mediterranean region, and while M. Wilkomm was exploring its western edges in the Iberian Peninsula, E. Boissier dealt with its eastern limits in Anatolia and Syria in his Flora Orientalis (1867).

The idea of the bioclimatic unity of the Mediterranean Basin with the Mediterraneans overseas is much more recent. Despite early contributions by A. Grisebach, V. Koppen and E. De Martonne (1927), the concept was not generally accepted until the 1950s when F. Bagnouls and H. Gaussen on the one hand, and L. Emberger on the other, provided a simple way of defining it. Using tables and indexes summarising many factors, they defined the Mediterranean climate and showed it was clearly associated with a specific type of vegetation. In the 1960s comparisons between the different areas with Mediterranean climates became common. In 1973 the compilation Mediterranean Type Ecosystems, coordinated by F. di Castri and H.A. Mooney was published, and in 1981 Mediterranean-Type Shrublands, compiled by F. di Castri, D. W. Goodall, and R. L. Specht was published.

The structure of this volume is similar to the other biomes treated in Volumes 2 to 9 of Encyclopedia of the Biosphere. Unlike the other volumes, however, much of the text has been written by one person, Lluis Ferres, Doctor of Biology, former professor at the Universitat Autonoma in Barcelona, who now devotes most of his time to environmental education in the media. Lluis Ferres was management assistant to one of us (R. Folch) in the production of "Mediterrania," coproduced by Televisio de Catalunya S.A. and Caixa de Barcelona under the patronage of UNESCO/MAB Programme (1988) and broadcast by this and other television stations. The editorial team has played a greater role in this than in other volumes, due to their personal knowledge of the subject.

The first section, by Lluis Ferres and Ramon Vallejo, professor at the Biology Faculty of the Universitat de Barcelona, describes the main features that characterize the Mediterraneans in terms of climate, soils and geographical distribution. The second section consists of chapters describing the ecological functionality of the different Mediterraneans, their flora, their fauna, life in their fresh waters, their variability in time and their variability in space. The first, second, fifth and sixth of these chapters were written by Lluis Ferres: the second includes contributions from Margarita Arianoutsou, professor at the Ecology Department of the University of Athens, John S. Beard, researcher with the "Vegetation Survey of Western Australia" project, Louis Trabaud, of the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionelle et Evolutive in Montpellier, and Ramon Folch. The third chapter, dealing with the fauna and animal populations, was written by Juan Pablo Martinez-Rica of the Instituto Pirenaico de Ecologia Experimental, in Zaragoza and Jaca, with contributions from Marcos del Castillo, professor at the Universitat de Barcelona. The fourth chapter, dealing with life in rivers and lakes, was written by Adolf de Sostoa, professor of Zoology at the Universitat de Barcelona, Montserrat Comelles, Lluis Ferres and Angels Puig.

The third section, dealing with human beings in the Mediterraneans, consists of four chapters. The first deals with human populations, and was written by Josep M. Camarasa. The second deals with the use of plant resources, and was written by Lluis Ferres, with contributions from Josep M. Camarasa and Cristina Junyent. The third chapter deals with the use of animal resources, and was prepared by Jordi Ruiz, of the Direccio General del Medi Natural of the Generalitat of Catalonia, Esteve Masague, of the Barcelona Beekeepers Association, Marta Vigo, a biology graduate from the Universitat de Barcelona and Santiago Lavin, of the General Veterinary Pathology Department of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. The fourth chapter on environmental problems and their management, was mainly written by Josep M. Camarasa with contributions from Lluis Ferres, John S. Beard, Josep Canadell of the Ecology Unit of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and Jordi Ruiz.

The fourth section, dealing with the Biosphere Reserves exemplifying the biome, is the work of Graham Drucker of the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge (U.K.), and Teresa Franquesa. The volume contains over twenty inserts written by Josep M. Camarasa, Lluis Ferres, Ramon Folch, Cristina Junyent, and Marta Vigo, with graphics by Toni Miserachs.

This volume would not have been possible without the invaluable advice of Francesco di Castri, one of the leading experts on the Mediterraneans of the world, and who has done much to further their understanding. We must also acknowledge the crucial guidance received from professor Jaume Terradas, professor of ecology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, and director of the Centre de Recerca Ecologica i Aplicacions Forestals (CREAF), and his collaborators.

We would also like to thank the more specific contributions from the persons and institutions that have provided documentation, or who have commented on sections of the volume. These were Gaspar Jaen (Elx Council), Oficina Tecnica d'Imatge (Barcelona Council), Archivio di Stato di Foggia, Archivo General de Indias, Archivo General de Simancas, Biblioteca de Catalunya, Arlene Fanarof (Library of South Africa), Centre de Documentacio i Animacio de la Cultura Catalana (Perpignan), Corporacion Nacional Forestal (CONAF, Chile), Hans van Baren (International Soil Reference and Information Centre, Wageningen), Servei de Parcs Naturals (Diputacio de Barcelona), Nina Cummings (Field Museum, Chicago), the Huntington Library, the Institut Botanic de Barcelona, Francesc Vives (Institut Tirant lo Blanc, Elx), Agencia de Medio Ambiente (Junta de Andalucia), Mateo Martinic (Instituto de la Patagonia, Chile), Laboratori de Referencia de Catalunya, Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology (Berkeley), Departament d'Educacio (Museu d'Art Modern de Barcelona), Bernat Marti (Museu Arqueologic de Valencia), M. Dolors Llopart (Museu d'Arts Industries i Tradicions Populars de Barcelona), British Museum (London), Museu Maritim (Diputacio de Barcelona), Albert Maso, Biblioteca General d'Historia de l'Art (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya), Ramon M. Planas (Museu del Perfum, Barcelona), the National Museum of South Africa, Centre de Recerca Ecologica i Aplicacions Forestals (CREAF, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona), Francesc Calafell (Departament d'Antropologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona), Jacint Nadal (Departament de Zoologia, Universitat de Barcelona), Laboratori del Suro (Universitat de Girona), H. J. Deacon (Stellenbosch University), Marti Dominguez (Departament de Biologia Animal-Entomologia, Universitat de Valencia) and the Wildlife Society of South Africa.

Ramon Folch

Josep M. Camarasa

1993
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Author:Folch, Ramon; Camarasa, Josep M.
Publication:Encyclopedia of the Biosphere
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2000
Words:1945
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