Sky Island

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The Santa Catalina Mountains are among the most famous sky islands in southern Arizona

Sky Island (" Sky Island ") describes an island-like mountain range that rises from a plain and has its own fauna and flora, which is clearly different from that of the plain. This phenomenon occurs due to the different altitudes and is evident in animal and plant species that would not survive in the climate of the lowlands. Typical phenomena are vertical migration and endemism . Due to the shift in climatic zones, many Sky Islands are now refuges for Ice Age species.

Origin of name

The term Sky Island came about in 1943 through an article by Natt N. Dodge in Arizona Highways Magazine, in which he called the Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona "mountain island in a desert sea". In 1967, Weldon Heald published a book called Sky Island , in which he described an excursion from rodeo in New Mexico in the western Chihuahuan Desert to a peak in the Chiricahua Mountains. This trip through different altitudes was 56 kilometers long and had an altitude difference of 1707 meters. The tour started in a hot, dry desert, followed by the transition to the steppe; then came a wooded area made up of oaks and pines and finally a spruce, fir and aspen forest.

Sky Islands in North America

The approximately 3000 meter high Chiricahua Mountains above the desert in southeastern Arizona

The center of the Sky Islands in North America is in southwest New Mexico , southeast Arizona, northwest Chihuahua, and northeast Sonora . The entire area has a particular scenic beauty, pristine wilderness and amazing biodiversity. This so-called Madrean Sky Island Archipelago is unique on earth and forms a complex of Sky Islands, which extends from subtropical to moderate latitudes with all the animal species and plants to be found there. The individual mountain regions are separated from one another by valleys and their surroundings with desert or steppe climate and rise about 1300 meters from the surroundings. They rise like islands from a sea of ​​desert and steppe. There are about 40 Sky Islands in this area, which is located between the Sierra Madre Occidental in northern Mexico and the Rocky Mountains in the southwestern United States. Typical Sky Islands in this area are the Santa Rita , Chiricahua , Dragoon , Santa Catalina and Peloncillo Mountains in Arizona, the Animas and Cedar Mountains in New Mexico, the Sierra Cibuta, Sierra Azul and Sierra San Luis in Sonora and the Sierra Alta and Sierra de Capulin in Chihuahua.

However, there are other Sky Islands not only in North America, but on almost all continents.

Web links

Commons : Madrean Sky Islands  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Natt Dodge: Monument in the Mountain . Arizona Highway Department, Phoenix, Arizona 1943, p. 20-28 .
  2. ^ Weldon Heald: Sky Island . Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey 1967, pp. 114-126 .
  3. ^ A b Peter Warshall: The Madrean Sky Island Archipelago: A Planetary Overview. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 1, 2015 ; accessed on July 3, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /