Meet the pika: adorable rodent threatened by climate change

What happens when you have no place left to go?

That’s exactly the predicament the American pika finds itself
in.  Global warming is posing a serious threat to this cousin of the rabbit and it’s running out of options.

In fact, the tiny pika has already disappeared from over one-third of their previously known habitat in Oregon and Nevada.  Now, the situation is so dire that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering the pika for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Why is the pika in trouble?  The pika has adapted to life in mountainous areas that rarely get above freezing and can die when exposed to temperatures as mild as 78F degrees.

Now, rising temperatures from global warming are making much of their mountain top habitat inhospitable.  When they move to the top and find temperatures that are still too warm, the pika literally has no place else to go.

This is proof that even small changes in temperature have drastic effects on wildlife and ecosystems.  You know how food webs work.  If the pika disappears, then you have too much of whatever the pika normally eats.  The pika’s predators don’t have enough food, so neither do their predators, and so on, and so on.

Sooner or later, one of these collapsing webs will involves humans.  Are we going to wait until then to act?


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