The Madrean Sky Island Archipelago: A Planetary Overview

Date Published or Written


Peter Warshall
Sky Island life zone graphic


Biodiversity and Management of the Madrean Archipelago. The Sky Islands of Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico.

Previous work on biogeographic isolation has concerned itself with oceanic island chains, islands associated with continents, fringing archipelagos, and bodies of water such as the African lake system which serve as "aquatic Islands". This paper reviews the "continental islands" and compares them to the Madrean sky island archipelago. The geological, hydrological, and climatic context for the Afroalplne, Guyana, Paramo, low and high desert of the Great Basin, etc. archipelagos are compared for source areas, number of lslands, isolating mechanisms, interactive ecosystems, and evolutionary history. The history of scientific exploration and fieldwork for the Madrean Archipelago and its unique status among the planet's archipelagos are summarized.