"The Ruby Mountains, a major Great Basin range, appears to harbor only half as many small animals as were found there in the 1920s, according to a new study by Utah Museum of Natural History researchers.
Climate change, grazing and fire suppression have altered the vast basin-and-range province between the Wasatch and the Sierra Nevada, considered one of the most threatened landscapes in North America. But 'significant declines'among small mammals across the mountain range’s habitat types and elevation zones are cause for renewed concern, said University of Utah biologist Rebecca Rowe, lead author of two recent studies based on modern 'resurveys'of sites investigated 80 years ago by a University of California ecologist, Adrey Borell.
'A lot of people say the Great Basin is in trouble. This is another indication that the area may really be in trouble,'said Rowe, a postdoctoral research fellow at the museum. 'We think it’s a region-wide problem. ... We don’t know unless we have something we can compare it to.'"
Brian Maffly reports for the Salt Lake Tribune June 4, 2011.