Mediterranean Ecosystems


Mediterranean regions are defined by their unique climate, which is characterized by a hot drought period in summer and cool wet period in winter. They partly cover the Mediterranean Basin, California, southwestern and southern Australia, central Chile and southern Africa. Mediterranean‐type ecosystems present strong similarities concerning vegetation types and functioning, as well as land‐use patterns and general appearance of the landscape.

Keywords: Mediterranean ecosystems; element cycles; water budget; fires; human influence

Figure 1.

Map of the five regions with Mediterranean‐type climate (red). For the Mediterranean Basin, the yellow area corresponds to the Mediterranean–steppe domain (mean annual rainfall between 100 and 400 mm) according to Le Houérou, 1997.



Arroyo MTK, Zedler MH and Fox MD (eds) (1994) Ecology and Biogeography of Mediterranean Ecosystems in Chile, California, and Australia, Ecological Studies 108. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Davis GW and Richardson DM (eds) (1995) Mediterranean‐type Ecosystems. The Function of Biodiversity, Ecological Studies 109. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Di Castri F and Mooney HA (eds) (1973) Mediterranean‐type Ecosystems, Ecological Studies 7. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Di Castri F, Goodall DW and Specht RL (eds) (1981) Ecosystems of the World 11. Mediterranean‐type Shrublands. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Joffre R, Rambal S and Damesin C (1999) Functional attributes in Mediterranean‐type ecosystems. In: Pugnaire FI and Valladares F (eds) Handbook of Functional Plant Ecology, pp. 347–380. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Keeley SC (ed.) (1989) The California Chaparral: Paradigms Reexamined, Science Series 34. Los Angeles, CA: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Kruger FJ, Mitchell DT and Jarvis JUM (eds) (1983) Mediterranean‐type Ecosystems: The Role of Nutrients, Ecological Studies 43. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Miller PC (ed.) (1981) Resource Use by Chaparral and Matorral. A Comparison of Vegetation Function in Two Mediterranean‐type Ecosystems, Ecological Studies 39. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Rambal S (2001) Productivity of Mediterranean‐type ecosystems. In: Mooney HA, Saugier B and Roy J (eds) Terrestrial Global Productivity. New York: Academic Press.

Specht R (ed.) (1979) Heathlands and Related Shrubland of the World. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Further Reading

Blondel J and Aronson J (1999) Biology and Wildlife of the Mediterranean Region. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dallman PR (1998) Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates. Berkely, CA: UC Press.

Groves R and Di Castri F (1991) Biogeography of Mediterranean Invasions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Joffre R, Rambal S and Ratte JP (1999) The dehesa system of southern Spain and Portugal as a natural ecosystem mimic. Agroforestry Systems 45: 57–79.

Le Houérou HN (1997) Biogeography of the arid steppeland North of the Sahara. In: Barakat HN and Hegazy AK (eds) Reviews in Ecology: Desert Conservation and Development, pp. 207–228. Cairo: Metropole.

Rodà F, Retana J, Gracia CA and Bellot J (eds) Ecology of Mediterranean Evergreen Oak Forests, Ecological Studies 137. Berlin: Springer‐Verlag.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Joffre, Richard, and Rambal, Serge(Oct 2001) Mediterranean Ecosystems. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003196]