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.
Kathleen Sullivan | EurekAlert!
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