Protect the American Pika

The American pika, a small, herbivorous, conspicuously cute mammal related to rabbits, is extra sensitive to climatic changes. Warmer temperatures threaten pikas by shortening the period available for them to gather food, altering plant populations where they feed and reducing insulating snowpack that protects them from cold snaps. Warming can also cause pikas to die from overheating.

Building on a recently completed five-year U.S. Geological Survey project that examined effects of climate shifts on the pika across the Sierra Nevada, this project will fill a critical information gap by determining the availability of the pika’s food resources in Yosemite.

In addition to helping protect the precious pika, this project will give park scientists a better understanding of climate-change effects on Yosemite’s alpine ecosystems, promote science communication and inform park-management decisions.

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Project Notes

Many scientists agree that warmer temperatures are going to result in severe impacts in habitat suitability for the pika during the next several decades. This project will enable us to identify what the pikas’ requirements are for survival in Yosemite. I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to answer important questions about how climate change is affecting Yosemite’s alpine ecosystems.

Sarah Stock
Wildlife Biologist
Yosemite National Park