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 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.
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