Conservation Genetics of American Pikas

Photo by Jessica Haines

Pika caching plants, photo by Jessica Haines.

Clayton Lamb and colleagues at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan published a paper on the conservation genetics of American pika in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA. American pika have low thermal tolerances and as a result models of climate-mediated extinction predict that pikas may be lost from as much as 80% of their current range by the end of the century. Here we used novel non-invasive hair collection techniques and genetic approaches to document the existence of American pika outside its biogeoclimatic envelope, and to identify genetic signatures of reduced dispersal and population size. The conservation value of populations from this region is high as they may be a significant component of intraspecific biodiversity and a source of adaptive potential and persistence in the face of climate change.