Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Latest census finds more American pika populations disappear as climate warms

17.12.2004


Small relative of rabbits vanished from over a third of US sites studied in WWF-funded research

WWF-funded research by Dr. Erik Beever of the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed that American pika populations in the Great Basin region are continuing to disappear as the Earth’s climate warms. "Population by population, we’re witnessing some of the first contemporary examples of global warming apparently contributing to the local extinction of an American mammal at sites across an entire ecoregion," said Dr. Beever, an ecologist at the USGS and lead researcher.

In a follow-up field study to research published in the February 2003 Journal of Mammalogy, American pika (Ochotona princeps) populations were detected at only five out of seven re-surveyed sites that possessed pikas in Beever’s research in the mid- to late-1990s. The original research documented local extinctions at seven of twenty-five sites in the Great Basin – the area between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. The recent re-sampling brings the total number of sites at which American pika populations have suffered local extinction to nine out of twenty-five or 36 percent. Continued loss of populations raises concern, as does the fact that these results and other lines of evidence suggest that many of the losses have occurred towards the more recent end of the 14 to 91-year period since their scientific discovery.



"With clean energy solutions readily at hand, our leaders are responsible for either protecting or failing to protect our rich natural heritage from global warming," said Brooks Yeager, vice president, Global Threats, World Wildlife Fund. "Extinction of a species, even on a local scale, is a red flag that cannot be ignored--we must limit heat-trapping emissions from the burning of dirty fossil fuels for energy now."

Previous research results suggested that American pikas are particularly vulnerable to global warming because they reside in areas with cool, relatively moist climates and are unable to survive even six hours in temperatures as low as 77 degrees Fahrenheit when not allowed to behaviorally thermoregulate. As temperatures rise due to increasing emissions of CO2 and other heat-trapping gases, many alpine animals are predicted to seek higher elevations or migrate northward in an attempt to find suitable habitat. Living essentially on high-elevation islands and having limited dispersal capability means that American pikas in these regions have little option for refuge from the pressures of climate change because migration across low-elevation valleys represents an incalculably high risk for them – and perhaps an impossibility under current climatic conditions. Results from Dr. Beever’s study published last year suggest that climate change may be interacting with other factors such as proximity to primary roads and smaller habitat area to increase extinction risk for pikas, creating detrimental synergistic effects.

A smaller relative of rabbits and hares, American pikas have short, round ears and usually make their homes among the broken rocks or talus at high elevations in the mountains of the western United States and southwestern Canada.

Hikers in the western mountains are perhaps most familiar with the call of the American pika, often heard when human visitors approach or travel on pika-occupied taluses. Some hikers are even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of them darting among the rocks or gathering alpine wildflowers and grasses for their winter food supply. American pikas may act as ’ecosystem engineers’ at talus margins because of their extensive haying activities. 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 ’haypiles’ above a rock in talus areas.

Kathleen Sullivan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wwfus.org

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>