Wilkening, JL, Ray, C
NWT Accession Number: NWT1885
American pikas are widely considered a sentinel species for
detecting ecological effects of climate change. They are declining
within a large portion of their range, and the National Park Service
(NPS) recently initiated a research program, Pikas in Peril (PIP),
which is designed to assess pika vulnerability to predicted changes
in climate. As part of the PIP program, we collected fresh fecal
samples from eight western national parks. We also tested fecal
sample storage techniques using feces collected from pikas that
were live-trapped, thus validating storage protocols established
by NPS surveyors. Finally we measured physiological stress
(glucocorticoid metabolites, GCM) in pikas in parks using fecal
samples collected non-invasively. Here we present baseline values
of GCM concentration for pikas across the western United States,
which can be used to identify changes in physiological stress levels
for this climate-sensitive species. Our research contributes to the
understanding of climate change effects on this sentinel mammal,
and provides park managers with baseline information that can be
incorporated into long-term monitoring studies.
American pikas, climate change, non-invasive sample collection, Pikas in Peril program, stress physiology
Wilkening, JL, Ray, C, (2015) Parks, pikas, and physiological stress: Implications for long-term monitoring of an NPS climate-sensitive sentinel species. Park Science 32 (1) :42-48
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement #DEB-1637686. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necesarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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