Alan de Queiroz

Ecological Islands

In the White River Valley of eastern Nevada, chalky white mounds rise gently above the sagebrush and greasewood of the valley floor. These mounds [Figure 1] are made of calcium minerals that precipitated out of the waters of old springs. Today, the spring mounds are the habitat of an unusual set of mostly low-growing plants [Figure 2] that look like they belong in alpine tundra more than among the shrubs of the valley.

Pinyon Jays and Pinyon Pines

In a dry woodland a high-pitched, nasal call is heard in the distance, then another and another. As the calls become louder and more numerous, birds that look like small, stocky, blue crows appear, streaming past in a loose flock of dozens or even hundreds. These are Pinyon Jays (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus), gregarious birds found throughout most of the state in pinyon-juniper woodlands and known for their close connection to pinyon pines.


Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park is located near the center of Nevada, among the pinyon pines and junipers of the Shoshone Mountains, off a path already off the beaten path.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) are large, chicken-like birds found in sagebrush habitats in the western United States. They are the largest North American grouse—males weigh up to 7 lbs—and are known for the impressive aggregations of displaying males at traditional mating sites (leks.) Recently, the decline of these charismatic birds has been associated with the loss or degradation of sagebrush habitats.

Garter Snakes

Garter snakes (genus Thamnophis) are the familiar striped "garden snakes" of North America. All of them bear live young rather than laying eggs, and most are fast–moving snakes that are active during the day. Because garter snakes tend to be found near water or in moist habitats, they are less common in arid Nevada than in many other states. Nonetheless, three species occur in the state, and a fourth apparently was found in Nevada in historic times.

Flora and Fauna of the Great Basin Mountains

The Great Basin, despite its name, is a mountainous region. It contains hundreds of mountain ranges, including thirty-three that reach a height of more than 10,000 feet.

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