The composition of Asia’s diverse fauna is differentiated by segmenting the continent into fauna regions known as zoogeographic regions. The continent is therefore made up of ten zoogeographic regions, each with unique animal species. These regions are; the Mediterranean Basin, Freshwater, Marine, Western and Central Asia, the Middle-East Deserts, the Indian Subcontinent, Malesia, the Indo-Pacific, the European-Siberian, and East Asia.
The European-Siberian Region
The European-Siberian is the northernmost zoogeographic region in Asia and is made up of the tundra and the taiga. This zoogeographic region has the coldest conditions in the continent, with many of the tundra areas perpetually experiencing sub-zero temperatures. Resultantly, the fauna in the region exhibits characteristics suitable for living in freezing temperatures, and these include musk oxen, Arctic hares, and the caribou. Due to the low temperatures, the zoogeographic region has the lowest concentration of poikilotherms such as reptiles and frogs, in Asia. South of the tundra is the taiga, a cross-continental belt of coniferous forests which is considered the largest terrestrial biome on earth. The taiga is home to some of the planet’s largest carnivorous mammals such as the brown bear and the Siberian tiger.
The Mediterranean Basin
The western part of Asia features another zoogeographic region, the Mediterranean Basin, which is the world’s largest Mediterranean climatic region. The region is also termed as the world’s third-richest ecoregion based on plant biodiversity. The countries under the zoogeographic region are Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and the trans-continental nation of Turkey. Some animals endemic to the region include the Ibiza wall lizard and the crayfish. Animals of this zoogeographic region are under tremendous pressure in recent years, after about 86% of the Mediterranean’s original vegetation having been destroyed.
The Middle-East Deserts
Two deserts make up the Middle-East deserts zoogeographic region. The Arabian Desert is the largest of the deserts, covering an area of 0.9 million square miles. The other deserts in the zoogeographic region are the Syrian Desert. The zoogeographic region is the hottest in Asia, with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius being a reported in some areas. Some of the animals that inhabit the zoogeographic desert regions of Asia include the Oryx, sand cats, and gazelles. Many of the deserts’ former dwellers like the striped hyena and the honey badger were driven to extinction by human activities.
Western And Central Asia
The countries within the Western and Central Asia zoogeographic region include Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Iran, and Turkmenistan. One of the dominant geological features in the region is the Iranian Plateau that covers an area of 1.4 million square miles. The Caucasus Mountains are also found in the region, and these are home to a wide array of animals. Persian leopards, hooded crows, brown bears, and golden eagles are some of the animals that inhabit this zoogeographic region.
Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and China are the countries that lie within the East Asia zoogeographic region. Temperate forests cover most of East Asia and are home to most of the zoogeographic region’s animal species. The region has a diverse range of animal species, not found anywhere else on earth. An example is a Japanese macaque which is only found in Japan.
The Indian Subcontinent
The Indian Subcontinent was formed independent of Asia, and the two merged about 45 million years ago. As a result, the biosphere diversity in the Indian subcontinent is different from that found in other regions of the continent. The zoogeographic region is predominantly covered by dense jungles which are home to animal species found nowhere else on earth such as the Indian cobra, the Nilgiri langur. The subcontinent has the most cat species in the world and is the sole habitat where tigers and lions co-exist in their natural environments.
Another of Asia’s zoogeographic regions is Indo-China. The countries encompassed under this zoogeographic region are Vietnam, China, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Pakistan, Laos, and Myanmar. Tree shrews, bats, and tarsiers are some of the mammals that are endemic to the zoogeographic region, while tigers, Javan rhinos, Asian elephants and water buffaloes are also present albeit in few numbers. The region is also home to diverse bird species, with flower-peckers, fairy bluebirds, common wood shrikes, pheasants and red-rumped swallows being among the endemic species.
The islands of Southeastern Asia are collectively referred to as Malesia. The islands represent one of the richest zoogeographic regions in Asia, as many are covered with tropical jungles which are home to thousands of animal species including mega-fauna such as orangutans, Asian elephants, tigers, and rhinos. Southeastern Asia is home to another rich zoogeographic region, the Sunda Shelf mangroves. These mangroves are habitat to a large number of animals, including the proboscis monkeys and numerous types of waterfowl.
The Freshwater Region
Freshwater zoogeographic regions of the continent are made up of its rivers and freshwater lakes. The Caspian Sea is the largest of these zoogeographic regions and is home to a wide array of aquatic life including the sea’s only aquatic mammal, the Caspian Seal. The Rivers of Russia are home to many different types of fish species. One of the largest of the rivers is the Volga which is home to an estimated 260 different types of bird species including herons and swans. Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest freshwater lake is another freshwater zoogeographic region in the continent. Some of the animals endemic to the lake include the Baikal Seal, flatworms, and whitefish.
The Marine Region
The Indo-Pacific, a bioregion that encompasses the Indian and western Pacific Oceans is the largest of Asia’s marine zoogeographic regions. This region has a more marine life than any other in Asia and is among the richest on earth.The Bay of Bengal is part of the Indo-Pacific and is among the richest marine habitats in the globe. Some marine animals found in the Bay include the endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, the bottle-nose dolphin, and the barracuda. One of the seas that make up the Indo-Pacific bioregion is the Red Sea, which is home to a rich marine ecosystem. There are an estimated 1,200 fish species in the Red Sea, about 120 of which are found nowhere else on earth. The Mediterranean Sea is another marine zoogeographic region in Asia. The salinity levels in the sea are relatively high, something that has restricted marine life to be as diverse as is the case in the Indo-Pacific.