The Many Unique Species on Mt. Graham

High Cienega, Mt. GrahamHigh Cienega, Mt. GrahamThere are at least 18 plants and animals unique to the world that have evolved on Mt. Graham's Galapagos-like, "sky island" Hudsonian forest summit ecosystem. These include three mammals, three flowering species, three unique mollusks and many arthropods (see below). They are adapted for survival to subzero boreal forest winters. Many other species on Mt. Graham remain to be identified.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) pointed out that the telescope project was located in the heart of the "best" 472 acres of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel's critical habitat, namely, the flattest, most fully canopied portion of Mt. Graham's summit Hudsonian (boreal) forest. The USFWS Biological Opinion states that the 8.6-acre, 3-scope project "permanently destroys" 47 acres or 10% of the squirrel's "best" 472 acres of intact, canopied habitat through indirect and direct ecological effects. Indirect effects include habitat desiccation and fragmentation of the adjacent forest. Would one destroy 10% of America's best farmland, let alone 10% of the best habitat of one of the most endangered mammals in North America?

Prior to the construction of the UA's brand new, all-weather telescope access road to the summit telescope area, this was a pristine, undeveloped Hudsonian forest gem and cradle of evolution. It was unaffected by the various prior human developments farther down at the lower elevations on the mountain such as the old, rustic summer cabins, antennas, campgrounds, etc. That the astronomers habitually pretend to confuse the pristine, summit boreal forest with the developed, lower altitude, non-boreal forest ecosystems on the mountains shows their unwillingness to address in a scholarly and scientific manner the simplest facts of this mountain's biogeography.

Some of the unique-to-the-world summit, boreal forest plants and animals which have evolved on Mt. Graham's Galapagos-like summit:

Mammals:

  • Mt. Graham red squirrel, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis
  • Long-tailed vole, Microtus longicaudus leucophaeus
  • Pinoleno pocket gopher, Thamomys bottae grahamensis

Mollusks:

  • Sonorella imitator
  • Oreohelix grahamensis

Plants:

  • Erigeron heliographus
  • Potentilla albiflora
  • Erysimum capitatum

Insects:

  • Byrrus sp.
  • Trechus arizonae
  • Priognathus sp.
  • Diplotaxis saylori
  • Scaphinotus petersi grahami
  • Symphoromyia fulvipes
  • Tetraphleps sp.
  • Deracocoris sp.
  • Dichrooseytus sp.
  • Eumorsea Pinaleno