URI professor's research expanding from Nevada's sky islands to New England's islands

The University of Rhode Island recently highlighted the work of Associate Professor Chris Floyd, who studies wildlife populations living on sky islands.

According to a news release, sky islands are small mountain ranges at high elevations that make for isolated populations.

“Marmots have presumably been isolated in these small mountain ranges for 10,000 years, so you’d think they would have very inbred populations," Floyd said of yellow-bellied marmots, one of his primary subjects. "But my genetic work indicates that marmots occasionally cross the desert valleys and are genetically connected with marmots on other ranges.”

While Floyd's work on sky islands has primarily taken place in Nevada, since moving to URI this fall he has begun to pursue research opportunities involving the wildlife on New England's more-traditional islands.

“Before this year I had never visited New England,” he said. “I’m taking advantage of field trips with my students to learn as much as I can about the local environments. I took my class to Rome Point last week, and we watched 52 harbor seals lie on the rocks. I am gradually working my way around to all of the remarkable places Rhode Island has to offer.”

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University of Rhode Island 45 Upper College Rd Kingston, RI 02881

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