STOCK-How Do Pikas Feel About Global Warming?

Jay Ryser

Lakewood, United States

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Artist's Description

I know – he looks rabid, but there’s more to the image than meets the eye.

I had a really disappointing day yesterday on Mt Evans. I saw a couple of marmots, neither of whom were interested in having their photo taken, a couple of goats (ditto), and no pikas. None.

I reluctantly headed back out this morning, figuring yesterday was a fluke. I always see lots of critters on Evans.

I saw a couple of marmots, neither of whom were interested in having their photo taken, a couple of goats (ditto), and I finally found Larry the Pika. He must have been feeling particularly generous today, because he posed for me for almost 10 minutes.

I have a bunch of pika images, so I was hoping for something a little different. I spent most of the summer of ’07 trying to get an image of a pika squeaking out an warning, so I was hoping for something similar today.

I was trying to give instructions (“C’mon, let me hear you squeak! Let’s hear it! EEENK!!”), but apparently my Pikan dialect is a bit off. I must have bored him a bit, because about that time, he yawned – not once, but twice.

This is a Pika at full yawn. My son saw the image and commented, “Thanks, now I’ll have nightmares.”

Pikas are considered to be one of the few altruistic species in the world, including marmots and, arguably, humans. They will remain outside in danger, barking out an alarm to their neighbors if predators are near.

Pikas are considered at at-risk species due to climate change – they’re very vulnerable to warm weather. It’s estimated they can only survive a few hours if temps get above 75F. That makes it difficult for them to migrate to different areas, and there’s only so far they can move up a mountain until they run out of mountain.

Pika (Ochotona princeps)
Mt Evans Wilderness Area, CO
Sony a700
Sigma 300mm f/2.8+1.4TC

ISO400, 1/1250sec, f/4

Artwork Comments

  • Stephen Thomas
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