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FLORAS OF THE MIDDLE EAST: A QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS AND BIOGEOGRAPHY OF THE FLORA OF IRAQ

  • S. A. Ghazanfar (a1) and T. McDaniel (a2)

Abstract

The descriptive flora of Iraq is incomplete, with ± 900 species yet to be described. However, names of all species with their distribution in the different physiographic districts of Iraq are databased (in BRAHMS) from information obtained from published sources and herbarium records. A quantitative analysis of the flora shows ± 3300 species (accepted names) in 908 genera belonging to 136 families of flowering plants. The families Asteraceae (409 spp.), Fabaceae (393 spp.), Poaceae (264 spp.), Brassicaceae (195 spp.) and Apiaceae (155 spp.) are the largest. An analysis of the distribution of the flora in the different physiographic regions and districts of Iraq shows the Mountain Region (northern mountains of Iraq) and the Central Alluvial Plains District in the Lower Mesopotamian Region to be the most species rich. Iraq is influenced by two major phytochoria, the Saharo-Sindian and the Irano-Turanian, which are subdivided into regional phytochoria specific to the Middle East region. Endemism is high in the Irano-Turanian region of Iraq which occupies the Mountain and major part of the Upper Plains and Foothills Regions. These Regions also contain the majority of the endemic and near endemic species. Biodiversity surveys carried out by Nature Iraq during 2005–2010 propose 88 Key Biodiversity Areas in Iraq. The National Report on Biodiversity in Iraq (CBD) outlines the threats to biodiversity and habitats in Iraq and a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for the protection and conservation of species-rich and biodiverse habitats.

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Corresponding author

*E-mail for correspondence: s.ghazanfar@kew.org

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