The term "sky islands" sounds intriguing, but it may be more lyrical than useful when discussing mammal distributions, according to new research from Eric Waltari of the Sackler Institute of Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History and Robert Guralnick from the University of Colorado at Boulder. The team used an emerging technique, ecological niche modeling, to show that the populations of small mammals living on mountaintops in the Great Basinon islands in the skyare not as isolated as previously thought.
"Niche modeling is a quick and straightforward approach to addressing problems that molecular data will eventually solve," says Waltari. "Are the animals on 'sky islands' isolated?"
The answer is no. "Sky islands" is a biogeographical term that was coined to describe the habitats of species living high on mountaintops, habitats thought to be solidly isolated. In the new paper published in the early online version of the
Determining the area that species inhabited in the past helps researchers understand current population distribution within the western U.S.'s Great Basin and potential linkages between "sky islands," links that ca
|Contact: Kristin Phillips|
American Museum of Natural History