There is trouble on the horizon for the American pika. This small alpine animal may be one of the first species to go extinct due almost exclusively to the effects of climate change.

Recent research in the Great Basin (the area between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains) shows that pikas have disappeared from nearly 30% of the sites that they were known to occupy for the last century.

Pikas are particularly vulnerable to climate change because of their extreme sensitivity to temperature fluctuation. Temperature increase itself, changing patterns of vegetation, and lack of snow cover on which the animals rely for insulation in the winter are probably all contributing to their present decline.

Scientists point to evidence that pikas have been moving ever higher to evade warming and drying patterns in the region. As they reach the top of their mountain habitats, there is nowhere else for the pikas to go.

The Pika Alarm is both a warning and a call to action on behalf of these amazing creatures. We can think of the pika as a canary in a coal mine, warning not only of the dangers the animals face but of the broader impact of climate change on the global ecosystem. There is more evidence every day that humans have caused these changes. We also have the power to slow their devastating progress.

Learn more about the effects of climate change on the pika:
"Tracking the Climate by Tracking the Pika" Presentation by Chris Ray
Warming in American West Pushes Pika to Extinction
Petition to list the American pika under the California Endangered Species Act
World Wildlife Fund on the pika
Pikas and Climate Change Report by Chris Ray
Eric Beever paper on pika extirpation patterns

 
 
   

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