Research at UNBC

OtE - Research Pika

The American Pika. UNBC/


Research at UNBC

By Nicole Halseth, News Editor

A researcher at UNBC is examining the effects of climate change on the American pika in BC using green techniques.

In a UNBC press release, Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Science and Management at UNBC, Dr. Philippe Henry said “I decided to study the American pika (pronounced pee-kah) along BC’s Coast Mountains because we have observed a six degree temperature change along an elevation gradient from sea level to 1500 meters where the pika lives…we know from previous studies of the pika that it is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, which made it ideal for our study.” He also said “the key for me is to have sustainable and safe interactions with wildlife as researchers. To me, there is a direct connection with this and UNBC’s status as Canada’s Green University.”

The pika is a small mammal that lives in cold northern climates, and can be found in BC along rocky mountain sides like those in the Coast Mountain Range. Dr. Henry initially hypothesized that climate change was resulting in warmer climates, and as a result, organisms like the pika were likely to move to higher, and thus colder, climates. Dr. Henry found that the pikas were not moving to higher elevations as a result of the warming temperatures. Through looking at environmental conditions and genetic markers, it was determined that the pika were actually adapting to changes in their local environment, and that for the pika, this appears to be the most viable solution to the situation.

Henry used ‘green’ methodologies throughout his research, such as using “hair snares” made out of packing tape, as well as remote-sensing cameras. Dr. Henry and his team are currently examining the sex ratios and population sizes of pikas in Banff and Yoho National Parks.

Research like the kind that Dr. Henry and his team are pursuing may benefit UNBC, and also help us better understand the effects and potential impact of climate change on the world around us. To read more about this research, check out the UNBC release here:

UNBC is also continuing its ‘green’ initiative through cost-cutting and more sustainable energy measures and partnerships. For more information, check out the UNBC release here: