SMALL MAMMALS IN HIGH PLACES: Hope for the Pikas?


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 08 May 2018

 

SMALL MAMMALS IN HIGH PLACES

Hope for the Pikas?

American pikas tolerate climate change better than expected,
Taylor & Francis Group, May 1, 2018.

 

"The American pika (Ochotona princeps), a relative of rabbits, occupies rocky environments in the mountains of western Northern America."

 

Previous Studies
"...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."

 

More Pikas Than Thought
"...these studies were focused on historic sites and did not examine the distribution of pikas at other marginal locations or in environments where they would more typically be expected to occur."

"A new study...documented pikas inhabiting climates and territories never before reported."

 

NEW PIKA RANGE
"The study found that pikas occur in conditions wetter and colder, as well as warmer and drier, than described from the prior limited sites. Pikas were found at elevations spanning 7,800 feet in elevation, from 5,350 feet to above 13,000 feet, and traversing 40 mountain ranges across California, Oregon, Nevada and Utah."

 

NEW HOPE FOR PIKAS?
"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."

Not the Pikas in the Tahoe Basin...

 

Scientists blame climate change for loss of pikas in Lake Tahoe

 

Bottom Line
We are seeing Pika loss at high elevations as temps have already warmed and all four seasons already have altered characteristics. These changes are currently being expressed within high elevation ecosystems as differences in sprouting, growth, and budding times, which are affecting all plant growth, and the chains of insects and birds dependent on this timing, and most likely the Pikas too.

While the research above shows the rate of these changes are unevenly distributed across various high elevation micro-climates, we can see also see the consistency of the stresses on all high elevation ecosystems eminating from the current level of warming we have already engendered, and are currently experiencing. This is just a "moment" in a rapidly changing West & Southwest.
Judging the survival status of the Pikas now is like reviewing a stage play after only watching the first act. Things are just getting started.

According to Hawking (and me), our current population and its current production of C02 are sufficient, if maintained anywhere near their current levels, to end life as we know it on this planet. The Pikas will be just one sacrifice on the alter of human greed.

 

Whole Southwest of US Undergoing Aridification

 

Global Temperature Targets Missed & We're Going Way Over the Top

 

Warming bringing much more "Aridification" than Anticipated?

 

Are our quickly and precipitiously rising temps, declining snowpack, changing characters of the seasons pushing a global extinction event a "wakeup" call?
Not for our Corporate leaders, their political representatives, or their "nation" of "consumers."

 

The Pikas are Canaries in our Coal Mine
Hawking: Soaring populations and increased energy demands will cause catastrophe

 

 

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2018 High Sierra small mammals pika survival research

 

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