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 ...