Masthead: Kaweah Range

Sierra Nature Notes
The Online Journal of Natural History News in the Sierra Nevada

American Pika are thriving in the Sierra Nevada and southwestern Great Basin
Rock formations buffer pika from warming temperatures

Summary of Distribution and Climatic Relationships of the American Pika (Ochotona princeps) in the Sierra Nevada and Western Great Basin, U.S.A.; Periglacial Landforms as Refugia in Warming Climates
Constance Millar and Robert Westfall
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station
Sierra Nevada Research Center

800 Buchanan St. Western Annex Bldg.
Albany, CA 94710 USA

Vulnerability of pika habitat to global warming has been an escalating concern, causing speculation that the range of suitable pika habitat will contract upward in elevation as lower elevation site temperatures increase. Millar and Westfall's recent study suggests there may be good news for the ever-adorable pika. The natural summer cooling and winter warming of their rock-pile homes may be protecting them from climate change.


COLLAPSE! Why do the Salmon Continue to Disappear from Our Mother Lode Rivers?
Craig A. Will

Where have all the Salmon gone?
Fewer Chinook salmon returning from the ocean to spawn in the rivers means that fishing will be closed for two successive years. What happened and what role might Tuolumne and Calaveras counties play in restoring the salmon fishery?

Salmon Spawning

Algae in the Sierra Nevada Wilderness areas
Robert W. Derlet, M.D. 1
Kemal Ali Ger, Ph.D.2

University of California, Davis
1,2John Muir Institute of the Environment
1School of Medicine
2Dept of Environmental Science and Policy

Fifty percent of California's water comes from the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once pristine lakes and streams are increasingly subject to increased algal growth and eutrophication as a result of human caused nutrient loading. Derlet and Ger examine the many sources for these excessive nutrients.

Algae Yosemite

Poorly managed livestock grazing causes major impacts to water, wildlife, and recreation on the Stanislaus Forest
Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center (CSERC)

Cattle grazing on public lands is increasingly being recognized as a source of pathogens entering our water supply as well as causing a wide variety of ecological impacts. CSERC examines some of these issues on the Stanislaus National Forest.

Cattle impacts on wet meadow

Winter Carnivore Survey Finds that Wolverines (Gulo gulo)are Likely Extirpated from Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks
Brian R. Hudgens
David K. Garcelon

Institute for Wildlife Studies
PO Box 1104
Arcata, CA 95518

Confirmed photos of a Wolverine at a bait station at Lake Tahoe created a flurry of publicity and hope that perhaps this rarest of California carnivores was making a comeback. A study done in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks recently suggests that the California population, anyway, may be gone.


Trans Sierra Nevada Crest National Parks:
A Proposal to Expand Parklands

W. Derlet, MD 
Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine  
University of California, Davis 
Sacramento, CA 

Charles Goldman, Ph.D.
Environmental Science & Policy
University of California, Davis    Davis, CA

To protect California's increasingly scarce wildlands and water sources, as well as expand recreational opportunities for California and the nation,the authors propose a set of new National Parks in the Sierra, stretching from Mt. Lassen in the north, to the Kern River in the south.

Map: Proposed Greater Sierra Ecosystem

An Analysis of the 7 July 2004
Rockwell Pass, CA Tornado:
Highest Elevation Tornado Documented in the US

John P. Monteverdi et al
San Francisco State University, San Francisco CA

Tornados near Mt. Whitney?? In July of 2004, a funnel cloud was observed forming over Rockwell Pass (elevation 11,600 feet) in Sequoia Canyon National Park, just north of Mt. Whitney. It was also photographed touching down. Recent analysis shows this to be the highest elevation tornado observed in the US. The article is in PDF and requires Adobe Reader.

Rockwell Pass Tornado

Mt. Lyell Salamander

Our Founder
Mt. Lyell Salamander
Hydromantes platycephalus

Questions? Go to About Our New Site

Masthead Photo from:
Kaweahs From Trailcrest, Kings Canyon National Park
© 2009, Howard Weamer