Tal-us About Pikas, May 16

American pika, courtesy of makieni777 (public domain)
American pika, courtesy of makieni777 (public domain)
Species: American pika
Scientific Name: Ochotona princeps
Current Status: Imperiled but not listed on the Endangered Species Act
American pika, courtesy of Donald Hobern
American pika, courtesy of Donald Hobern (CC BY 2.0)

Pikas are small, rabbit-like animals that are well-adapted to cold temperatures. The American pika, quite aptly, lives mainly in the mountains of North America.

The American pika has adapted to an extremely narrow set of living conditions. During the winter it relies on snowpack for insulation from sub-freezing air temperatures, and during the summer it avoids overheating by resting in cool spaces found under the rocks in talus and boulder-fields.

These adaptations are great for thriving in environments that are harshly cold for most of the year, but they also make the American pika vulnerable to a warming climate. As climate changes, the American pika is threatened by reductions in snowpack and longer, warmer summers that might change the quality of their forage and reduce the amount of time they can spend foraging in the warmer temperatures above the rocks.

Partners:

A huge thank you to our Tal-us About Pikas partners:

Sheep Mountain Alliance logo

Here are some things you can do to learn more about American pikas:

Join Us:

Join us and our friends at Wild Bear Nature Center for the live event Tal-us About Pikas.
Sunday, May 16, 2021, 1:00-2:30 pm MT
Hybrid (virtual and live)
Registration: Register for in-person at Wild Bear Nature Center (20 Lakeview Dr, Unit 107, Nederland, CO 80466) or virtual on Zoom!
Share: Feel free to invite people with the Facebook event page!

The American pika, that adorable little mammal that greets alpine hikers with its distinctive “Eeep!”, is facing an uncertain future in the Rocky Mountains. Rising temperatures and reduced snowpack may change the environmental conditions this cold-loving species needs to survive. Join Rocky Mountain Wild’s Senior Conservation Biologist, Megan Mueller, (via Zoom) for a discussion of pika ecology and the potential impacts of climate change on pikas. Learn how the Front Range Pika Project, a community science project in our own backyard, is significantly advancing scientific understanding of pikas, and how you can become involved. You will also learn about a new smartphone app called Pika Patrol that you can use to help us with our research by recording pika sightings throughout the Rockies. Following the Zoom presentation, participants who are in-person at Wild Bear Nature Center will have the opportunity to test out the app (Beta version), sign up to volunteer, and even adopt a plush pika to help fund the research. 

Rocky Mountain Wild is partnering with Wild Bear Nature Center and their Climate Action Sundays to offer this virtual and live presentation. The Front Range Pika Project is a partnership of Rocky Mountain Wild and Denver Zoo.


Read:

For Adults:

For Kids:


Do:

For Adults:

For Kids:


Watch/Listen:

For Adults:

  • Watch last year’s Pika Power Hour and Ask Me Anything at noon with Jo Varner from Colorado Mesa University and Megan Mueller from Rocky Mountain Wild. They discussed the species, its current status, and the community science projects that will help us protect this adorable species.
  • “How Climate Change Threatens Pikas,” from Science Friday (listen, 13 minutes)
  • “Meet Colorado’s Pikas” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (3 minutes)
  • “What Are Pikas Saying” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (2 minutes)
  • “Why Pika Population Are Declining” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (3 minutes)
  • “How Food Affects Pika Survival in Colorado’s Alpine Areas” from Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (2 minutes)

For Kids:

  • “Scientists in Action: Protecting Pika,” from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (5 minutes)
  • “Pikas: Cute Animal, Serious Science,” from Science Podcast for Kids (listen, 17 minutes)


Check out our Colorado Endangered Species Week page for more days of activities!

Feel free to download our American pika card below! Simply right click and save.

Rocky Mountain Wild's Guide to Super Cool Species: American Pika.