Skip to Main Content
Apparent climate-mediated loss and fragmentation of core habitat of the American pika in the Northern Sierra Nevada, California, USAAuthor(s): Joseph A. E. Stewart; David H. Wright; Katherine A. Heckman; Robert Guralnick
Source: PLOS ONE
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (17.0 MB)
DescriptionContemporary climate change has been widely documented as the apparent cause of range contraction at the edge of many species distributions but documentation of climate change as a cause of extirpation and fragmentation of the interior of a species' core habitat has been lacking. Here, we report the extirpation of the American pika (Ochotona princeps), a temperature-sensitive small mammal, from a 165-km2 area located within its core habitat in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. While sites surrounding the area still maintain pikas, radiocarbon analyses of pika fecal pellets recovered within this area indicate that former patch occupancy ranges from before 1955, the beginning of the atmospheric spike in radiocarbon associated with above ground atomic bomb testing, to c. 1991. Despite an abundance of suitable rocky habitat climate warming appears to have precipitated their demise. Weather station data reveal a 1.9°C rise in local temperature and a significant decline in snowpack over the period of record, 1910-2015, pushing pika habitat into increasingly tenuous climate conditions during the period of extirpation. This is among the first accounts of an apparently climate-mediated, modern extirpation of a species from an interior portion of its geographic distribution, resulting in habitat fragmentation, and is the largest area yet reported for a modern-era pika extirpation. Our finding provides empirical support to model projections, indicating that even core areas of species habitat are vulnerable to climate change within a timeframe of decades.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationStewart, Joseph A.E.; Wright, David H.; Heckman, Katherine A.; Guralnick, Robert. 2017. Apparent climate-mediated loss and fragmentation of core habitat of the American pika in the Northern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. PLOS ONE. 12(8): e0181834-. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0181834.
- Development of cost-competitive timber bridge designs for long-term performance
- Soil spot herbicides for single-stem hardwood control
- Hydrologic habitat preferences of select southeastern USA fishes resilient to river ecosystem fragmentation
XML: View XML