American pika and climate change
Jul 24, 2016 — A pattern of rapidly accelerating climate change has been observed by scientists around the world for several decades now, with effects ranging from soaring temperatures, melting glaciers, and an increased prevalence of natural disasters. Climate change has been driven by the increased amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases we humans have produced in recent decades, as a result of escalating industrial activity. Since 1950, the planet’s average temperature has increased by one degree Fahrenheit … which spells bad news for some of our planet’s most vulnerable nations, habitats, and animal species.
One species which could be at risk of going extinct because of climate change is the American pika. These tiny, mouse-like animals do not hibernate, have high metabolisms and thick fur coats, ideally suited for life in a cool climate. In recent years, they have been struggling to adapt to the increasingly warmer temperature of their habitat in the Sierra Nevada mountains and have already disappeared from 15 percent of their former range. It is predicted that by the year 2070, they will be missing from 40 to 90 percent of this range.
Sadly, migration to cooler regions of California is not an option for pikas. They would be required to pass through hot regions of the state in order to do so … and even if they did make it to the coldest, highest mountains in California, this would not be enough to shield them from the rising temperatures forever.
Info credit: Aisling Maria Cronin
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