PIKA

PikaHere’s a program from our archives. music; ambience: Pika We’re listening to the sounds of pika- rabbit-like animals that inhabit California’s mountains in small dens carved out of rock piles. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Unlike alpine animals which hibernate, pika stay active all winter- traveling short distances in underground tunnels to collect food. But what do they do the rest of the time? Frisch: Wintertime is a great mystery. The pika are hidden by ten to fifteen feet of snow. And, we know that they do not hibernate. And, we know that they tunnel beneath the snow to get to their various vegetation. But it remains one of the great mysteries– what happens to the pika during this winter period, since we can’t see what’s going on.John Frisch is a Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute, who’s been studying pika in Bodie, California. He tells us that they’re are asocial animals who live alone in their dens. They’re so territorial that they’ll even chase away their own offspring if another pika comes too close. And what pika do with their solitary lives is still a matter of debate for the scientists who study them. Frisch: We’ve been studying pika for between 25 and 30 years and we have a good feel for what’s going on within the population– population trends, extinction, re-colonization events – but we don’t have a real good feel for what individual animals are doing within the system. And so our work right now is concentrated on marking individual animals and taking a tissue sample for genetic work to understand the family relations as well as be able to follow individual animals through their life to see how long they live, what kind of mortality they experience, how many offspring they produce. So by following the life histories of individual pika, scientists will try to piece together the episodes of the animal’s behavior that still remain hidden. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

PIKA

Pika stay active all winter-- but doing what?
Air Date:03/05/1999
Scientist:
Transcript:

PikaHere's a program from our archives. music; ambience: Pika We're listening to the sounds of pika- rabbit-like animals that inhabit California's mountains in small dens carved out of rock piles. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.Unlike alpine animals which hibernate, pika stay active all winter- traveling short distances in underground tunnels to collect food. But what do they do the rest of the time? Frisch: Wintertime is a great mystery. The pika are hidden by ten to fifteen feet of snow. And, we know that they do not hibernate. And, we know that they tunnel beneath the snow to get to their various vegetation. But it remains one of the great mysteries-- what happens to the pika during this winter period, since we can't see what's going on.John Frisch is a Principal Investigator with the Earthwatch Institute, who's been studying pika in Bodie, California. He tells us that they're are asocial animals who live alone in their dens. They're so territorial that they'll even chase away their own offspring if another pika comes too close. And what pika do with their solitary lives is still a matter of debate for the scientists who study them. Frisch: We've been studying pika for between 25 and 30 years and we have a good feel for what's going on within the population-- population trends, extinction, re-colonization events - but we don't have a real good feel for what individual animals are doing within the system. And so our work right now is concentrated on marking individual animals and taking a tissue sample for genetic work to understand the family relations as well as be able to follow individual animals through their life to see how long they live, what kind of mortality they experience, how many offspring they produce. So by following the life histories of individual pika, scientists will try to piece together the episodes of the animal's behavior that still remain hidden. Additional funding for Pulse of the Planet has been provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.