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U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012–3060

In cooperation with the National Park Service, Denali National Park

Climatic Changes and Effect on Wild Sheep Habitat

By Edwin L. Pfeifer (U.S. Geological Survey); Wayne Heimer (Alaska Department of Fish and Game, retired, and Wild Sheep Foundation, Cody, Wyo.); Gretchen Roffler (U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center); Raul Valdez (Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University); Megan Gahl (Alaska Wildlands Studies Program at the Wrangell Mountains Center, McCarthy, Alaska)

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.5 MB)Summary

Wild sheep are sensitive to environmental change and may be an effective indicator species of climate change in arctic and high mountain ecosystems. To understand the effects of climatic changes on Dall sheep habitat, U.S. Geological Survey scientists have been studying selected areas in Alaska since 2007. The research focus is on forage quality, nutrient levels, and changes resulting from warming or cooling climate trends. Preliminary results indicate significant changes in Dall sheep diet accompanying vegetation changes and upslope retreat of glaciers.

Last modified June 4, 2012
First posted April 24, 2012

  • This report is also available in print from:

    USGS Information Services, Box 25286,
    Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225
    telephone: 888 ASK-USGS; e-mail:

For additional information:
Contact Information, Southwest Geographic Science Team—Wild Sheep Habitat
U.S. Geological Survey
520 N. Park Ave., Suite 106
Tucson, AZ 85719

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Suggested citation:

Pfeifer, E.L., Heimer, W., Roffler, G., Valdez, R., and Gahl, M., 2012, Climatic changes and effect on wild sheep habitat: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2012–3060, 2 p., available at

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