Researchers from two universities in northern Turkey announced that they had identified a new endemic plant in the region. The plant of the Aubrieta genus, which contains some 20 species of flowering plants in the cabbage family Brassicae, was discovered in Gurbetkayası, an area inside Yedigöller National Park in the province of Bolu. It is now named "Aubrieta necmi-aksoyi Tunçkol, N. Özkan and Al-Shehbaz" after the researchers, their mentor and a U.S.-based scientist who helped in the identification of the plant. Details on the newly discovered plant were published in the international botany journal Phytotaxa.
Dr. Bilge Tunçkol from Bartın University told journalists on Wednesday that they analyzed the samples at labs both in Bartın University and at Düzce University, where his fellow researcher Neval Güneş Özkan works, and found that it was a new taxon, a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms. "We cooperated with professor Ihsan al-Shehbaz from Missouri Botanical Garden in the United States and confirmed that this was a new endemic species," he said. Tunçkol said the plant was primarily named after Necmi Aksoy, a botany expert who served as the doctorate lecturer for himself and Neval Güneş Özkan.
The plant, with its spectacularly colored flowers, has the potential to be used as groundcover in rocky habitats, Tunçkol said, similar to another endemic plant he discovered in Bartın two years ago. He said it grew in a very limited area that bears basalitic and limestone features. Researchers recommended its inclusion in the "critically endangered" category of a set of criteria set forth by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for species under threat, due to the potential impact of ecotourism and forestry activities on the plant.
Turkey last year revived efforts to protect the wildlife in its national territory, which is home to a rich array of flora and fauna. Some 100 species that are endangered or nearly endangered are under protection across the country, along with a variety of animals and plants that were thought to be extinct or on the verge of extinction. The official numbers show that Turkey is home to 13,409 plant and animal species. The climate crisis threatens to disrupt the ecosystem, as changing temperatures force animals to migrate and affect plants struggling to adapt to new, unfavorable conditions. As a result of the increasing population, urban development also presents a challenge for wildlife whose habitats are being encroached on by humans. In recent years, international bio-smuggling, increasing with time, added to the woes of species, with smugglers targeting both plants and animals, hunting down valuable plants and animals used in several industries. Although the fallout of global warming looms over it, Turkey's rich array of climates, from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea, still remains favorable for different species.
With the government's efforts, a biodiversity database called Noah's Ark was created. A total of 331 flora and 276 zones designated as an exclusive habitat of several species are also actively monitored.