Extreme High-Elevation Mammal Surveys Reveal Unexpectedly High Upper Range Limits of Andean Mice

Jay F. Storz, Marcial Quiroga-Carmona, Schuyler Liphardt, Nathanael D. Herrera, Naim M. Bautista, Juan C. Opazo, Adriana Rico-Cernohorska, Jorge Salazar-Bravo, Jeffrey M. Good, Guillermo D’elía

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the world’s highest mountain ranges, uncertainty about the upper elevational range limits of alpine animals represents a critical knowledge gap regarding the environmental limits of life and presents a problem for detecting range shifts in response to climate change. Here we report results of mountaineering mammal surveys in the Central Andes, which led to the discovery of multiple species of mice living at extreme elevations that far surpass previously assumed range limits for mammals. We livetrapped small mammals from ecologically diverse sites spanning 16,700 m of vertical relief, from the desert coast of northern Chile to the summits of the highest volcanoes in the Andes. We used molecular sequence data and whole-genome sequence data to confirm the identities of species that represent new elevational records and to test hypotheses regarding species limits. These discoveries contribute to a new appreciation of the environmental limits of vertebrate life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-735
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Naturalist
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Andes
  • distribution limits
  • high altitude
  • Phyllotis
  • Puna de Atacama
  • species limits
  • Mice/genetics
  • Animals
  • Animal Distribution
  • Phylogeny
  • Chile
  • Altitude


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