On the talus slope

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I never get disappointed when I hear the little chirp of a Pika moving about on the talus slopes. Always spotting us before we spot them. usually sitting still and looking out into their environment then scurrying off to collect plants for winter larder. The Pika is yet another species threaten by climate change and the focus of this short video in Smithsonian Magazine.

It is encouraging that some Pika may be showing behavior adaptation to a loss of habitat resulting from climate change but as the authors of a recent study concludes “while many species have a clear capacity to modulate behavior in relation to variations in climate parameters,much remains to be learned about the trade-offs, fitness implications, and limitations of behavioral flexibility in the context of novel climate dynamics.”

I sure hope these little guys are able to adapt to the new reality imposed upon them by our species. A walk on the talus slopes without them would be a lonely walk indeed.

Will Most Birds Go Extinct?

Earlier this fall it was reported that over 3 billion birds or almost 1/3 the bird population has been lost in North America due to human enterprises. A new report from the Audubon Society demonstrates that about 66% of bird species in North America may be threatened with extinction resulting from anthropogenic climate change. The full report can be found here. The findings of this study are bleak to say the least. When you consider the fact that this report only focuses on climate change and does not consider other anthropogenic factors such as habitat destruction, pollution etc. a dark picture of a world with no birds could certainly be painted. Mass extinction events like the one we are in typically don’t end well for most species humans included. The report indicates that if we take action ASAP to reduce the rate and extent of warming there may be a ray of hope. How do you feel about living in a world without birds?

Click photo for slide show.

Western Toad: Anaxyrus boreas

It always is a treat to see a toad or two while out on a hike. With published data in Britton, the USA and other places around the world all indicating toads, frogs and other amphibian populations are in serious decline.

This day we ran across the Western Toad: Anaxyrus boreas and we thrilled.

He sure is a bumpy little guy and was happy to let us photograph him around the edge of his pond.

A few days latter while out on hike we ran across another Western Toad just off the side of the trail resting in the tall grass.

Although this statement may not apply to everyone, for me it feels eerily strange and quite foreboding that within our life times we now consider it special to experience amphibians that were once a common experience in our childhoods.