A great close-up view of a pika in the mountains near Aspen, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY KIM FENSKE.
Long-term citizen science effort aimed at measuring climate change impacts in the Colorado high country
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The climate of the mountain West is changing, and some biologists have already raised alarm about the American pika, a small mammal that lives in some of the most rugged nooks and crannies of the region, hiding out among giant boulders. As the world heats up, habitat for pikas is shrinking, and they may not last through the century in parts of their range.
Federal biologists studied the pika to determine whether it could benefit from the protection of the Endangered Species Act. They concluded that, while the animals may be affected by climate change, enough habitat will remain to ensure the existence of the species. Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pika website to learn more.
Other scientists aren’t so sure. They think pikas might be “canaries in the coal mine” for global warming. Conservation biologists say that having a few remnant populations survive in isolated areas isn’t the same thing as ensuring long-term survival for the species as a whole. To gain a better understanding of what’s happening with pikas, Colorado-based conservation groups want some citizen help to gather better data on these cute and charismatic high country residents. They’ve started the Front Range Pika Project, a citizen science initiative that aims to engage the public in a long-term conservation study that, at the same time, could help raise public awareness about climate change impacts in the Colorado Rockies. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Colorado, endangered species, Environment, global warming, wildlife | Tagged: American pika, biodiversity, Center for Native Ecosystems, climate change, Colorado news, Colorado Rockies, endangered species, Environment, Front Range pika project, global warming, Summit County News, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Leave a comment »