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Old 02-17-2010, 07:43 PM   #1
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earth1 The American pika

The American pika, a small flower-gathering relative of the rabbit, may be one of the first mammals in North America known to fall victim to global climate change if heat-trapping emissions are not reduced soon. The pika, a cousin of the rabbit, is a small chinchilla-like animal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and short tail.

The name pika (pronounced /ˈpaɪkə/ PYE-kə, archaically spelled pica) is used for any member of the Ochotonidae, a family within the order of lagomorphs, which also includes the Leporidae (rabbits and hares). One genus, Ochotona, is recognized within the family, and it includes 30 species. Pikas are also called rock rabbits or coneys. It is also known as the "whistling hare" due to its high-pitched alarm call when diving into its burrow. The name "pika" appears to be derived from the Tungus piika, or perhaps from the Russian pikat "to squeak".

There are 30 species of pikas in the world. Most of them live in Asia. During the ice ages two species came across the Bering Strait. Ochotona collaris settled in Alaska and the Canadian Rockies. Ochotona princeps traveled south to the Sierras and Rocky Mountains in the United States.

American pikas are typically found in rocky areas, called talus, within alpine regions of the western United States and southwestern Canada. Many hikers, while passing through pika habitat in these rocky areas, have heard these shy creatures call and whistle to each other.

Since food is difficult to obtain in winter in the alpine environment, pikas cut, sun-dry, and later store vegetation for winter use in characteristic 'hay piles.' They are often called 'ecosystem engineers' because of their extensive haying activities.

Pikas are diurnal or crepuscular, with higher altitude species generally being more active during the daytime. They show their peak activity before the winter season. Pikas do not hibernate, so they rely on collected hay for warm bedding and food. Pikas gather fresh grasses and lay them in stacks to dry. Once the grasses dry out, the pikas take this hay back to the burrows for storage. It is not uncommon for pikas to steal hay from others; the resulting disputes are usually exploited by neighboring predators like ferrets and large birds.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:05 PM   #2
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Wonderful pictures Dave and interesting information on the pika. This is something I've never seen with my own eyes. Thank you for bringing me a glimpse of them.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:16 PM   #3
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Dave, those pika pix are excellent close-ups of the little cuties!
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
may be one of the first mammals in North America known to fall victim to global climate
Is that because they can't tolerate the rising tempteratures?
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Old 02-18-2010, 06:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkweed View Post
Is that because they can't tolerate the rising tempteratures?
As temperatures rise due to increasing emissions of heat-trapping gases, many alpine animals are expected to seek higher elevations or migrate northward in an attempt to find suitable habitat. Yet, American pikas in these regions have little option for escape from the pressures of climate change because migration across low-elevation valleys represents an incalculably high risk-and perhaps an impossibility under current climate regimes-for them. Results from various studies suggest that climate may be interacting with other factors such as proximity to roads and smaller habitat area to increase extinction risk for pikas, creating harmful synergistic effects.

The pikas' particular vulnerability to global climate change is due to several factors. American pikas cannot easily migrate in response to climate change, as their habitat is currently restricted to small, disconnected habitat "islands" in numerous mountain ranges. Although talus within mountain ranges is often more continuous, this is not always the case; some ranges only have habitable talus at lower elevations or in broadly separated patches. Furthermore, American pikas generally do not appear to move large distances, as many individuals may spend their entire lifespan within a half-mile radius. Pikas do not inhabit burrows which could mitigate extreme temperatures and are highly active above ground during the hottest months of the year.
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Old 02-19-2010, 04:23 PM   #6
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dragonfly01 Pikas

anything that cute should be a shoo-in for help from city folk.. maybe an answer to their food problem is bales of grass hay (which is way cheaper than alfalfa, not having as high a protein, & therefore, cost - get 'em to donate for the cost of bales & hauling; then 'all' that is needed is to get the hay up there. Which is a helicopter thing, I expect, having farmed in vertical-real-estate country for a loooong time. But it is do-able.
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:13 AM   #7
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May we please use your 1st photo of the American Pika?
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Old 03-04-2010, 07:16 PM   #8
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May we please use your 1st photo of the American Pika?
Of course you may use the photo
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Old 03-21-2010, 03:07 PM   #9
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Everyone's probably going to blow a gasket over this one what with all the livestock grazing being allowed, Little pika not endangered enough | KATU.com - Breaking News, Sports, Traffic and Weather - Portland, Oregon | Outdoors Featured. And check this out, http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/americanpika/QandA02052010.pdf
"The Fish and Wildlife Service has publicly described the pika as an example of a
species likely to be uniquely affected by climate change. Why are you now stating
that it is not?
At the time the Service initiated a status review of the pika, the available scientific
evidence suggested that rising global temperatures have historically resulted in the
extirpation of pika populations at lower elevations. Given the historical evidence, the
general scientific consensus was that the pika was vulnerable to continued rising
temperatures that would further push populations back into dwindling high-elevation
habitat, potentially threatening the species with extinction. However, new peer-reviewed
information and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the pika is able to survive
despite higher temperatures and will have enough suitable high elevation habitat to
ensure that it will not face extinction in the forseeable future. For that reason, the Service
has determined that the species does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species
Act."
Okayfine but.... something major league has been going on and what about lending a helping hand by getting rid of the livestock>> ? This kinda makes me wonder why we even have an endangered species act if all we're going to do is repeatedly undermine it protecting agricultural interests, FR Doc E9-10551
"We are seeking information regarding the species' or subspecies': (1) Historical and current status and distribution; (2) population size and trend; (3) biology and ecology; (4) taxonomy (especially the genetics of the species and subspecies); and (5) ongoing conservation measures for the animals or their habitat.

We also are seeking information on the following five threat
factors used to determine if a species, as defined under the Act, is
threatened or endangered under section 4(a)(1) of the Act (16 U.S.C.
1531 et seq.):
(a) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or
curtailment of the species' habitat or range;
(b) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or
educational purposes;
(c) Disease or predation;
(d) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
(e) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued
existence and threats to the species or its habitat.

If we determine that listing the American pika or any subspecies of
the American pika under the Act is warranted, we intend to propose
critical habitat to the maximum extent prudent and determinable at the
time we propose to list the species. Therefore, with regard to areas
within the geographical range currently occupied by the species, we
also request data and information on what may constitute physical or
biological features essential to the conservation of the species, where
these features are currently found, and whether any of these features
may require special management considerations or protection. In
addition, we request data and information regarding whether there are
areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species that are
essential to the conservation of the species. Please provide specific
comments and information as to what, if any, critical habitat you think
we should propose for designation if the species is proposed for
listing, and why such habitat meets the requirements of the Act."

Sort of ridiculous they're not listing the American Pika as endangered. They have more than enough to go on but... if they did that they'd have to stop livestock grazing. They know there's a vicious cycle going on letting livestock have free range... livestock destroys native vegetation and degrades the American Pika's habitat yet we keep allowing it. Then after the livestock has stripped the habitat of native vegetation... the invasive species move in full force displacing the native vegetation. They know grazing led to "localized population extirpations or declines". They know that fire suppression has played its part robbing the American Pika of habitat, "contribute to the encroachment of trees into alpine and subalpine meadows, also altering vegetation communities to a less favorable state". Can't allow fire... no no no not with all the livestock in that critical habitat.
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Old 03-22-2010, 01:19 PM   #10
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Those Pikas look cool... and cuddly, its to bad that the humans are affecting them so much.
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alpine, alpine environment, american, american pika, climate affects, climate change, climate change impact, crepuscular, diurnal, endangered animals, endangered species, global climate change, habitat changes, habitat deterioration, lagomorphs, leporidae, ochotona collaris, ochotona princeps, ochotonidae, pika, pikas, whistling hare

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