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Influences on Mammalian Diversity Topic of Thursday Talk at AMK Ranch

July 7, 2014
Woman smiling
Hayley Lanier is the speaker for Thursday’s seminar at the UW-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. (UW Photo)

“Mammals on Mountaintops: How Climate and Geography Drive Diversity in the Alpine” will be the topic of the weekly Harlow Summer Seminars Thursday, July 10, at the University of Wyoming-National Park Service (UW-NPS) Research Center. The center is located at the AMK Ranch in Grand Teton National Park.

Hayley Lanier, assistant professor of zoology and physiology at the University of Wyoming-Casper, will discuss the topic at 6:30 p.m. at the AMK Ranch, located north of Leeks Marina. A barbecue, at a cost of $5 per person, will take place at 5:30 p.m. Reservations are not required. For more information, call the UW-NPS Center at (307) 543-2463.

Some high-mountain mammals are in a precarious position because of climate variability, Lanier says. For example, mammals that specialize on alpine habitats, such as pikas and marmots, often show great geographic variation, with coat colors and calls that differ by region.

“Part of this variation is driven by the fact that these species specialize on ‘sky islands’ -- isolated alpine habitats separated from other similar habitats by broad swaths of lowlands that are difficult to traverse due to temperature and vegetation gradients,” she says. “Unfortunately, the factors that have driven variation within these species across the landscape may also be contributing to extinction of populations as temperatures rise over time.”

She will explore how climate and landscape have shaped variation within pikas over the long term, and how warmer summers and warmer winters may affect populations in the short term.

Lanier’s research focuses on how landscape structure shapes population diversity, particularly for mammals in alpine environments. She has studied mammals in the mountains of Alaska and northwest Canada and in the cloud forests of Guatemala and Costa Rica.

The UW-NPS Research Center provides a base for university faculty members and government scientists from throughout North America to conduct research in the diverse aquatic and terrestrial environments of Grand Teton National Park and the greater Yellowstone area.

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