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Tiny American pika seen headed toward extinction

Source:  Copyright 2005, Reuters
Date:  December 29, 2005
Original URL: Status ONLINE

Human activity and climate change may be pushing the tiny American pika toward extinction in the mountains of western North America, according to research published on Thursday.

The small rabbit-like mammals live in rock-strewn slopes but are gradually being pushed to higher elevations and are running out of places to live, archeologist Donald Grayson reports in the current issue of the Journal of Biogeography.

"Human influences have combined with factors such as climate change operating over longer time scales to produce the diminished distribution of pikas in the Great Basin today," Grayson said.

Seven of 25 historically described populations of pikas in the Great Basin — the area between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains — appear to have become extinct by the end of the 20th century, Grayson said.

Among the intrusions that appear to imperil the pikas are roads built close to their habitat ...

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