The American pika, a small, herbivorous, conspicuously cute mammal related to rabbits, is extra sensitive to climatic changes. Warmer temperatures affect pikas in many ways, from transforming the plant populations they depend on for food, to reducing the insulating snowpack that protects them from cold snaps, and to causing them to die from overheating.

Building on a recently completed five-year U.S. Geological Survey project that examined effects of climate shifts on the pika across the Sierra Nevada, this project filled a critical information gap by determining the availability of food resources for the species in Yosemite. With your support in 2014, scientists sampled sites throughout Yosemite for evidence of pikas and the plants on which they depend.

In addition to helping protect the precious pika, your support is helping park scientists study of how climate change affects Yosemite’s alpine ecosystems, promote science communication and inform management decisions in the park.

Sarah Stock

Wildlife Biologist

Project Notes

Many scientists agree that warmer temperatures are going to result in severe impacts in habitat suitability for the pika during the next several decades. This project will enable us to identify what the pikas’ requirements are for survival in Yosemite. I’m excited to finally have the opportunity to answer important questions about how climate change is affecting Yosemite’s alpine ecosystems.