20 Apr 2011:
Populations of American Pikas
Going Extinct As Climate Warms, Study Says
Extinction rates of American pikas have increased nearly five-fold over the last decade
within the Great
Photo by Donald M. Jones/Minden Pictures
An American pika
Basin region of the western U.S., and the climate-sensitive species is moving to higher elevations at a rate 11 times faster than during the 20th century, according to a new study. Erik Beever of the U.S. Geological Survey says the dramatic shift likely demonstrates the increasingly critical role of climate in the local loss of the species, a small hamster-like creature that lives in cool, mountainous habitats. Using 110 years of data on pika distribution across the 150,000-square-mile region, researchers found that four of 10 local pika extinctions observed at 25 sites have occurred since 1999. During that period, pikas have moved up mountain slopes at a rate of about 145 meters (475 feet) per decade, compared with an average rate of about 13 meters per decade during the previous century, according to the study
, which will be published in the journal Global Change Biology
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