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  2. 2. ALBANIAN ECOSYSTEM Albania is a Mediterranean country on the Balkan Peninsula in the south of Europe. Albania sits at the interface between the mountainous Balkans, a continental European climate and the Mediterranean region. The Albanian coastline is 476 km long, and the Adriatic and Ionian Seas have a great impact on the climate, flora, and fauna in the country. Part of the Balkan region, Albania is a relatively small country. Most of the country is mountainous, rising to 2700 m, and 41 % of the 3.3 million population liveson the extensive coastal plain. The population has doubled over the last thirty years and there is substantial migration towards the cities of the coastal zone. Although Albania is a small country, it is veryrich inbiological andlandscape diversity.Thisisdue toitsgeographical position,geological factors, hydrology,climate, and soil conditions. Albania is part of the Mediterranean Alps in the line Dinarido- Albanido-Helenid,andischaracterisedbya diversityof rockformationssince Palaeozoictime.There are more sedimentary and volcanic formations, while metamorphic ones are less common. Other formationssuchas alluvial,proluvial,koluvial,anddeluvial glaciers,marshes,andlakes,are youngerand from the Quaternary area. Within Albania there are tectonic zones which during their geological developmentchangedtotectonicandneo-tectonicconfigurations.The Albanianrelief ismostlyhillyand mountainous.There isadiversity of morphological formations and slopes. It has a young age since the Albanianrelief originatedduringthe Miocene Age.Atthe beginningof the Quaternary Age, the Adriatic lowland and other inland lowlands were attached to the continental part of Albania, but the existing relief shape wasformulatedduringthe Pliocene Period.The evolutionof the Albanianrelief continuesto thisday.The highest point is 2751m above sea level (Korabi Mountain) and the lowest one is 8 meters belowsealevel (theformerTerbufi Marsh). The medium altitude of the country is 708m above the sea level. The altitude declines moving from the east to the west of the country, and this determines the conditions of the climate, land, and vegetation. The climate of Albania is diverse. It has four major climatic zones and 13 sub-zones, which contribute to the country's rich biological diversity. Albania is well known for its rich and complex hydrographic network composed of rivers, lakes, wetlands, groundwater, and seas. The main rivers are the Drini, Buna, Mati, Shkumbini, Semani, Vjosa, Erzeni, Ishmi, Bistrica, and Pavllo, and their courses have an important effect on the country's coastal biodiversity.About247 natural lakes of different types and dimensions, and a considerable number of artificial lakes, are located inside the country.).
  3. 3. There are numerous different types of animals in Albania that can be found in many places around the world as well as some to be found nowhere else in the world. Albania is a very mountainous country with it's west border almost entirely a coastline. The highlands are placed elevated on the Balkan region and have a continental Mediterranean climate. The coastal lowlands have Mediterranean weather, however, in the interior, the weather changes many times. The temperatures of the interior are affected by differences in elevation more than anything else. The rainfall is heavier in the highlands than in lowlands and 95% of the rainfall takes place during the winter. The changes in weather in the highlands and lowlands are far more dramatic than the changes that occur in the coastal region. The differences in the terrain may cause local changes in temperature, but the overall temperature is consistent in the coastal region. This consistency of temperature is helpful to the animals who have adapted to the region's habitat. The coastal climate of Albania is quite mild and attracts many migratory birds including: ducks, storks, pelicans, and geese. Along the coastal habitats are Mediterranean monk seals, Atlantic dolphins, gray dolphins, sardines, andmullet. In the interior basins and river valleys, the temperatures are very high, but usually cool down at night. In the rivers, lakes, and streams of the mountains are common otters and trout. Being that there are many mountains, there are also bound to be many caves or caverns. Of the cavernous habitats inland are the bats which include the: lesser noctule, noctule, Nathusius' pipistrelle, common pipistrelle, gray big-eared bat, Blasius's horseshoe bat, lesser horseshoe bat, serotine, lesser mouse-eared bat, Brandt's bat, long-fingered bat, greater mouse-eared bat,whiskered bat. The interior valley habitats are home to many of the smaller prey animals. In the forest and plain habitats are the hares, pikas, rabbits, and rodents which include the: brown hare,European rabbit, yellow-necked field mouse, broad-toothed field mouse, long-tailed field mouse, Felten's vole, common vole, European pine vole, and common dormouse. Also, there is the Albanian horse, which is a small horse either in the mountains or plains, and is in the Balkan horse group.