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Sky islands: metaphor or misnomer?
Date:8/13/2008

n be tested with molecular research now that the models have pinpointed which populations of which species are most likely to intermingle. In this study, Waltari and Guralnick also found that not all species were widespread across the basin 21,000 years ago. For example, one prediction is that Belding's Ground Squirrels inhabited only the western portion of the Great Basin at the last full glacial period. Belding's ground squirrels currently live at higher elevations of the same portion of Great Basin, but some valley connections also appear to currently be suitable habitat according to the model. Many of the species (9 of 13) had suitable habitat below the "sky islands" that may link different populations.

"Connectivity is an important aspect of conservation biology," says Waltari. "Also, testing niche models in the present and past is the first step in making predictions about where species will move in the future given global warming scenarios."


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Contact: Kristin Phillips
kphillips@amnh.org
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History
Source:Eurekalert

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