The central tenet of island biogeography theory—that species assemblages on islands are functions of island area, isolation from mainlands, and vicariance—has been altered by the demonstrable effects that rapid climate change is imposing on insular faunas, at least in isolated mountaintops. Although populations of American pikas (Ochotona princeps) continue to suffer extirpations, and although the lower bounds of the pika's elevational distribution are shifting upslope across the Great Basin, we report here on the new discovery of a low-elevation population of pikas in a mountain range from which they had not been reported previously. This discovery, particularly in the context of relatively rapid ecological change, highlights the importance of seeking out original sources of information and performing spatially extensive fieldwork. Results presented here further illustrate that although thermal influences appear to be the single strongest determinant of pika distribution currently, such influences interact with a number of other factors to determine persistence.
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Vol. 68 • No. 1