Mountaintops, like Mount Dana in Yosemite National Park, have extreme conditions of cold and wind. The mountaintops are isolated from one another and so create a small island of favorable conditions for some plants.
Why It Matters
- Yosemite has high flat plateaus at around 12,000 feet elevation. The plateaus stuck up while glaciers carved around them.
- On these rocky plateaus are plants that grow nowhere else. They are endemic to these high altitude environments.
- Animals can be found up this high too but they are rare. Some, like the marmot, hibernate during the long winters.
Explore More/Show What You Know/Can You Apply It?
With the link below, learn more about sky islands. Then answer the following questions.
- Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Nature Notes – 16 – Sky Islands (video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yneADYBWRvs&list=PL890957589F8403A4&index=9
- Why are the locations discussed in the video called sky islands?
- As you move up in altitude along the Tioga Road in Yosemite, what happens to the vegetation?
- What characteristics of the plants in the sky islands are the scientists putting in their inventory?
- What is the long-term goal of this type of study? Why are scientists interested in doing studies like this long-term?
- As climate warms, what will happen to these plants that live at the tops of mountains?
- How much biodiversity is found in sky islands in Yosemite National Park?