Where have the ------ gone? (Pika, Lakes, Eagles...) | High Sierra Topix  

Where have the ------ gone? (Pika, Lakes, Eagles...)

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.

Re: Where have the ------ gone? (Pika, Lakes, Eagles...)

Postby gdurkee » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:57 am

The Grinnell Resurvey project being carried out by UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology has been going back over surveys done by Joseph Grinnell in the early 1900s. The surveys are finding a number of small mammals are moving up in elevation. Climate change is the likely reason (http://mvz.berkeley.edu/Grinnell/).

The last time I was at McClure in 2007, I was concerned belding's ground squirrels would be gone from Evolution Valley the next year. I'd seen only 6 that year and they'd disappeared from Colby. They have an over-winter mortality of about 20-30%. They'd also disappeared from LeConte Canyon since I'd seen them there in the mid-80s. They have, though, moved up into Dusy Basin and onto the Darwin Bench and Evolution Lake in the last 10 years -- an indicator that climate change is driving their decline at lower elevations. None were seen at McClure in '08, but last year they reappeared in both McClure and Colby. However, their numbers in those meadows are still down significantly from the 80s, when you'd see dozens scampering around.

I've got decades of sightings of pikas from areas I go back to. They seem stable in Sequoia Kings Canyon anyway, though the Grinnell transects have them moving up in elevation as well.

Rodents, though, definitely follow cycles and populations routinely crash. It's very difficult to separate those cycles from the longer fluctuations as a result of climate change.

The mountain yellow-legged frog has extensive research being done on their populations, as well as long threads about them here and elsewhere. They're definitely in trouble in the Sierra and are extinct in about 90% of their former range from only 20 years ago. In Bubbs Creek, I found a new area they'd colonized with dozens of adults and hundreds of tadpoles. Unfortunately, Roland Knapp's recent survey found Chytrid in a nearby population and he fears that it'll spread into the healthy populations. He's got a good post here:
http://anuranblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/ ... frogs.html for more information.

I'll add that it was a great sight seeing them at this new location. Walking along the grassy banks of the ponds, seeing and hearing the frogs leap and plop into the water ahead of me reminded me of what the Sierra was like only 30+ years ago, before their populations started crashing. It's a good reminder that all of these critters (and trees and rocks and streams) are an integral part of what we call the sierra, providing an emotional connection worthy of the effort and expense in preserving them.

A couple of posters have previously brought up questions about porcupines -- that their numbers seem down. I started paying more attention and tend to agree with this. I haven't seen any fresh sign in Bubbs Creek the last few years but this is pretty anecdotal. Like many species, I don't always pay close attention and our ability to track fluctuations is very limited.

In Sequoia Kings the Mustelidae (weasels, marten, wolverine) are slowing increasing from severe trapping in the 30s -- before it was a park. Weasel and pine marten sightings are fairly common, even the fisher is showing up every year or two in some areas. In spite of what some biologists think, the wolverine has had some very reliable sightings over the last 20 years. To me, that shows they're definitely around, though where they come from is unclear.

For both Yosemite and Sequoia Kings, I'd encourage people to send in their sightings. Both parks have extensive wildlife observation records going back to the late 1800s (first sighting recorded for Kings Canyon is by John Muir -- a grizzly in Tehipite Valley).

The web site: http://www.inaturalist.org/ is an excellent community-based place to keep track of your wildlife observations and share them with a wider audience.


User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 730
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:20 pm
Experience: N/A

DFG Invites Public Comment on American Pika Proposal

Postby rlown » Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:33 pm

Ok.. now we really should tell what we saw last year for Pika. for me, they looked in good numbers to the East of Piute pass.

http://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2011/12/3 ... -proposal/

To be complete:

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is seeking public comment on a proposal to list the American pika as an endangered or threatened species.

Photo courtesy of A. Tshcherbina (rl:you probably have to visit the URL above to see how cute they are)

American pikas (Ochotona princeps) are small lagomorphs (relatives of rabbits and hares) that inhabit broken-rock habitats such as mountain talus slopes. In California, they typically live at moderate-to-high elevations in the southern Cascades, Sierra Nevada and mountain ranges of the Great Basin. Climate change is considered to be the primary factor that impacts pika populations in California, although mining, grazing, disease and other factors may have an effect as well.

In April 2007, the Center for Biological Diversity submitted a petition to the Fish and Game Commission to formally list the American pika as a threatened or endangered species. As part of the status review process, DFG is soliciting public comment regarding the pika’s ecology, biology, life history, distribution, abundance, threats, essential habitat and recommendations for management.

Comments, data and other information must be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Game
Nongame Wildlife Program
Attn: Scott Osborn
1812 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to pika@dfg.ca.gov.
User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 6656
Joined: Thu Oct 25, 2007 5:00 pm
Location: Petaluma, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Where have the ------ gone? (Pika, Lakes, Eagles...)

Postby kpeter » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:07 pm

In July of 2010 my son and I saw a whole colony of pikas at the west end of Thousand Island Lake. The east end near the trails was populated by ground squirrels, but the west end closer to the talus was pika territory.
User avatar
Topix Expert
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:11 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Where have the ------ gone? (Pika, Lakes, Eagles...)

Postby oldranger » Wed Jan 25, 2012 7:34 pm


Dang I missed them! But then they were probably smarter than me. It was snowing and I was out fishing--they were warm and snug in their home munching on harvested grass.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 2522
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A


Return to The Campfire

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests