Unprecedented rates of human-induced changes in land use and land cover (LULC) at local and regional scales lead to alterations of global biogeochemical cycles. Driving forces behind LULC changes mainly include rapid growth rates of population and consumption, lack of valuation of ecological services, poverty, ignorance of biophysical limitations, and use of ecologically incompatible technologies. One of the major ecological tragedies of the commons in a Mediterranean region of Turkey is the loss of Lake Amik at the expense of increasing the area of croplands, which used to provide vital ecosystem goods and services for the region. In this study, we aimed at quantifying the effects of past land-use transitions on soil organic carbon (SOC) pools (0-20 cm) in a Mediterranean region of 3930 km(2), between 1972 and 2000. LULC changes were quantified from a time series of satellite images of Landsat-MSS in 1972, Landsat-5 TM in 1987, and Landsat-7 ETM+ in 2000 using geographic information systems. The study showed that the increase in croplands between 1972 and 1987 took place at the expense of the irreversible losses of Lake Amik and its related wetlands of over 53 km(2). In the period of 1972 to 2000, croplands, settlements, and evergreen forests increased by 174%, 106%, and 14%, respectively. The increase in settlements occurred mostly to the detriment of croplands. Given the average rates of all the land-use transitions, and associated changes in SOC density for the study region of 3930 km(2), total SOC pool was estimated to decrease by 14.1% from 130.1 Mt in 1972 to 111.7 Mt in 2000.