The American pika, which is a cute little animal resembling a rabbit, commonly found in the mountains of North America, is now disappearing in California. The findings of a new study have found that the rising temperatures could be responsible for the extinction of the population of these pikas, particularly in low elevation of sites like Sierra Nevada.
For the study, the researchers made use of historical data to find that pikas are now not found in approximately 15% of their California range- in areas that are, on an average, 2.2 degrees warmer than the areas these pikas usually reside.
The researchers believe that by the year 2070, pikas will have disappeared from around 40 to 90 percent of the sites, and these percentages depend on how much the temperatures rise every summer.
It is troubling to find that there are major impacts on the population of so many animal species due to climate change, which further focuses on the need of steps to be taken actively to preserve the environment. The findings of this study are published in the Journal of Biogeography.
Pikas usually adapt well to cold temperatures in alpine meadows and high elevation boulder fields- these animals have thick fur, even in their ears and the bottoms of their feet. Pikas usually don’t hibernate, and need to maintain a high body temperature to adapt to winter.
“Hikers often see them hopping across the rocks and carrying little bouquets of wildflowers in their mouth. A lot of the locations that hikers go to, the lower elevations for pikas, that’s where we’re losing them”, Stewart said.
Three pika communities residing close to Crater Lake, Oregon, have disappeared in the recent decades according to the National Park Service. It seems that now pikas have become a poster child for the impact of climate change. These tiny animals can’t adapt and migrate like other animal species, which is why, high temperatures tend to have a maximum impact on them.