Diminished diminutive

The pika, a small animal with large ears and short legs of which hikers and backpackers are fond, is having problems. Under the weight of climate change, the pika population is being reduced in the Sierra and the Great Basin.

According to a study by eight scientists published in the Journal of Biogeography, the small creature has vanished from 10 of 67 sites in the Sierra where they have historically been tracked. “Pikas, and other montane [mountain-inhabiting] species in the Western USA, may be subjected to above-average exposure to climate change because summer temperature is projected to rise more than annual temperature,” according to the study.

One of the scientists, Joseph Stewart, told Phys.org, “This same pattern of extinctions at sites with high summer temperatures has also been observed in the Great Basin region.”