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Mictomys Borealis (Northern Bog Lemming) and the Wisconsin Paleoecology of the East-Central Great Basin

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jim I. Mead
Affiliation:
Quaternary Studies Program, and Department of Geology, Box 5644, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5644 Earth Science, San Bernardino County Museum, 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374
Christopher J. Bell
Affiliation:
Earth Science, San Bernardino County Museum, 2024 Orange Tree Lane, Redlands, California 92374
Lyndon K. Murray
Affiliation:
Quaternary Studies Program, and Department of Geology, Box 5644, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011-5644

Abstract

Teeth of northern bog lemming, Mictomys borealis, are reported from Cathedral and Smith Creek caves and represent the first Wisconsin remains of the genus from the Great Basin. Specimens from Cathedral Cave, Snake Range, are associated with U-series ages of 24,000 to 15,000 yr B.P. Previous work with pollen and packrat middens, dating to the same age as the Mictomys, indicate that Smith Creek Canyon contained a riparian, locally mesic community, including Picea engelmannii (spruce), Betula sp. (birch), Cercocarpus sp. (mountain mahogany), and Artemisia sp. (sagebrush) among other species. Exposed canyon slopes and the adjacent valley apparently contained a more xeric steppe community including sagebrush and Chenopodiineae species; rocky outcrop permitted Pinus flexilis (limber pine) and P. longaeva (bristlecone pine) to grow adjacent to Lake Bonneville or low in the canyon. The region apparently experienced a dry climate (not necessarily drier than today); however, Smith Creek Canyon was fed by glacial meltwater from Mt. Moriah. The northern bog lemming probably lived only in the riparian community and possibly on the north-facing slope below Cathedral Cave. Few canyons of the Snake Range would have had the unusually mesic conditions found in Smith Creek Canyon.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
University of Washington

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