The collared pika, a small mammal related to the rabbit, is found only on mountain tops in Alaska and Canada’s Yukon and Northwest Territories, living in rocky areas near glacial ice. Pikas do not hibernate during winter; instead snow cover provides thermal insulation for their nests while they rely on cached food to survive. As global temperatures continue to rise, 15 years of warmer winters have led to lessened snowfall in the pikas’ habitat. With less snow, they are more exposed to cold temperatures and as a result, have experienced higher mortality rates.
Researchers are hopeful the designation as a species of special concern – a species that may become threatened or endangered due to a combination of factors – will raise awareness about the pika and foster improved conservation efforts.
Read more about the pika designation at CBC News.