Mountain Pikas Eat Moss to Survive Climate Changes

Pikas are small mammals closely related to rabbits and hares that are native to cold, alpine climates in North America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Pikas are small mammals closely related to rabbits and hares that are native to cold, alpine climates in North America, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Pikas are very sensitive to heat, dying if they spend more than two hours above 78 degrees Fahrenheit, so cold climate is important to their survival.

And sadly, as increasing temperatures continue to play a role in our changing climate, pikas have gone extinct in some mountain ranges and moved to higher peaks in others in the American West.

However, researchers have also discovered pikas living in rockslides near sea level in Oregon. But how is this species surviving in these warmer gorge areas when they are dependent on colder weather? Well, biologists claim pikas survive hot weather simply by eating moss.

“Pikas eat foods like moss to persist in warming environments,” says biologist Denise Dearing of the University of Utah, co-author of a new paper reporting the results.

Jo Varner, also a biologist at the University of Utah and a paper co-author, says that although “some fiber is good, moss is 80 percent fiber. It’s a bit like eating paper.

Read the full story here.

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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at www.amooseinamapletree.com. She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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