While driving to the gala of the Mount Shasta Film Festival last night, I heard a piece on National Public Radio about how the warming climate is forcing some species in the High Sierra around Yosemite to higher elevations.
Low and behold, I find this morning that Tom Knudson’s Sierra Summit blog at the Sacramento Bee has an extensive post on the same researchers’ recent article in Science. The gist is this: the researchers (including retired UC Berkeley zoology professor Jim Patton) have access to 90-year-old field notes from mammalogist Joseph Grinnell, who studied the type and distribution of high-mountain animal species in the Sierra Nevada. By comparing Grinell’s notes with their present-day observations, Patton and colleagues have discovered that some species have moved uphill.
Why? Because it’s cooler further up, and that’s what they need. More evidence of warming temperatures in the Sierra Nevada. Of course, if it gets too warm, some species will run out of real estate and will face extinction.
Go read Tom Knudson’s extensive and very informative post. Here’s a tidbit:
Animals common in Grinnell’s camps were no longer there. They had moved up the mountain. One was the alpine chipmunk, which was so widespread in Tuolumne Meadows in 1915 that Grinnell’s men tossed sandwich scraps to them. “They’re not there now,” Patton told me. “We looked for them extensively.” Indeed, the animal can today be found no lower than 9,800 feet and is running out of real estate and at risk of extinction.
How will climate change affect your favorite hiking areas?