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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

American pikas tolerate climate change better than expected

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May 1, 2018  Read full ScienceDaily article here

The American pika, a relative of rabbits, occupies rocky environments in the mountains of western Northern America. It has been widely thought that pikas could not survive extremes of temperature and thus were at risk of running out of space at the tops of mountains as temperatures rise due to climate change. But is there more to the story?

….A new study, “Distribution, climatic relationships, and status of American pikas in the Great Basin, USA,” published in Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, examined the largest set of records for occupied and extirpated (vacant) pika sites across a four-state region encompassing the entire Great Basin, and documented pikas inhabiting climates and territories never before reported….

…..Connie Millar, a senior research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station and lead author of the study [said] “Pikas are persisting broadly across the region, and these findings give us reason to believe that the species is able to tolerate a wider set of habitat and climate conditions than previously understood.”

Constance I. Millar, Diane L. Delany, Kimberly A. Hersey, Mackenzie R. Jeffress, Andrew T. Smith, K. Jane Van Gunst & Robert D. Westfall. Distribution, climatic relationships, and status of American pikas (Ochotona princeps) in the Great Basin, USA. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 2018; DOI: 10.1080/15230430.2018.1436296

American Pika (stock image). Credit: © moosehenderson / Fotolia

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