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Sky islandFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to: navigation, searchFor the fantasy novel by L. Frank Baum, see Sky Island. Sky islands are mountains in ranges isolated by valleys in which other ecosystems are located. As a result, the mountain ecosystems are isolated from each other, and species can develop in parallel, as on island groups such as the Gal?pagos Islands.The best known examples of sky islands are the Madrean sky islands at the northern end of the Sierra Madre Occidental in New Mexico, Arizona, Chihuahua and Sonora on the U.S.-Mexico border.Other sky islands of note are the Great Basin montane forests of the United States' Great Basin, the Tepuis of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana, and in Africa. Some Asian examples include Mt. Victoria (3050 m) in central Myanmar, Fan Si Pan (3140 m) in northernmost Vietnam, and the mountains of central Taiwan; these mountains all hold isolated outposts of Palearctic flora in the otherwise tropical Indomalayan flora region.
I visited Great Basin National Park a few years ago and it was a real education in this type of thing. The Great Basin is a huge area scooped of by glaciers between the Rockies and the Sierras; no water of any kind flows out of the Basin. Dotted across the Basin are small mountain ranges that the glaciers left behind. The Basin floor is something like 4000 ft. elevation and has a unique ecology dictated by it's peculiar water flow characteristics; the Park itself is centered around one of those remnant mountains, Wheeler Peak, which is over 13,000 ft. As you gain altitude, you cross a number of ecozones, including pine forests, aspen groves, little glacier fed lakes, ending in alpine tundra and ultimately bare rock. When you are at altitude, you can see a couple of other mountains that are miles away; but the plants and animals that live in these mountainous areas are completely isolated from one another.
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