According to recent research, climate change is one of the main factors that leads to the increasing disappearance of a species of small mammal that lives in the western parts of North America, known as the American pika.
This small animals looks like a cross between a mouse and a rabbit and feeds on alpine flowers and other vegetation.
The new study reveals that the pika population, from places like Sierra Nevada, is decreasing alarmingly by at least 15%, and scientists blame the effects of climate change for this species’ disappearence.
The areas that the American pika is leaving have an increased temperature of 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the regions where this animal still lives.
Joseph Stewart, a UC Santa Cruz graduate student and one of the scientists involved in the study, said that the results of the reports are troubling. Stewart explains that the American pika is an animal adapted to cold temperatures and it doesn’t hibernate.
This small animal maintains its body temperature at normal degrees thanks to its thick fur. This helps them survive the cold winters at high altitudes.
Stewart adds that the pika has been known to live at lower altitudes, but because of the increasing temperatures due to climate change, it has started to move its habitat at higher altitudes, where the temperature is still comfortable.
According to the research, the pika is not disappearing only from the Californian regions. The National Park Service has revealed that in the last 10 years, three pika populations known to live in close proximity to Crater Lake, Oregon, have disappeared.
Stewart explains that the American pika has become a clear example of how the climate change alters the environment.
Stewart says that this small mammal cannot adapt to warmer climates and cannot really migrate to regions where there are still colder climes. He fears that if the temperatures continue to rise, the American pika could disappear completely.
The findings regarding the effects of the climate change on the American pika population were published in the Journal of Biogeography.
Image Source: sciencedaily