Image by/from Frédéric Dulude-de Broin
A pika (/ˈpaɪkə/ PY-kə archaically typed pica) is really a small mountain-dwelling mammal present in Asia and The United States. With short braches, very round body, a level coat of fur, with no exterior tail, they resemble their close cousin the rabbit, however with short rounded ears. The big-eared pika from the Himalayas and nearby mountain tops is located at heights in excess of 6,000 metres (20,000 ft), one of the greatest associated with a mammal.
Pikas prefer rocky slopes and graze on a variety of plants, mostly grasses, flowers and youthful stems. Within the fall, they pull hay, soft twigs along with other stores of food to their burrows to consume throughout the lengthy cold winter. The pika is also referred to as the “whizzing hare” because of its high-pitched alarm call when diving into its burrow.
The name “pika” seems to become produced from the Tungus piika, and also the scientific name Ochotona comes from the Mongolian word ogdoi meaning pika. It’s employed for any person in the Ochotonidae, a household inside the order of lagomorphs including the Leporidae (rabbits and hares). Just one genus, Ochotona, is recognised inside the family, covering 30 species.
The 2 species present in The United States would be the American pika, found mainly within the mountain tops from the western U . s . States and southwestern Canada, and also the collared pika of northern Bc, the Yukon, western Northwest Territories, and Alaska.
Pikas are indigenous to cold climates, mostly in Asia, The United States, and areas of Eastern Europe. Most species survive rocky mountainsides, where you can find numerous crevices to shelter, even though some pikas also construct crude burrows. A couple of burrowing species are indigenous to open steppe land. Within the mountain tops of Eurasia, pikas frequently share their burrows with snowfinches, which build their nests there. Pikas require cold conditions to reside, and may die if uncovered to temperatures above 77.9 °F (25.5 °C). Altering temperatures have forced some pika populations to limit their ranges to even greater elevations.
Pikas are small mammals, with short braches and rounded ears. They’re about 15 to 23 centimetres (5.9 to 9.1 in) in body length and weigh between 120 and 350 grams (4.2 and 12.3 oz), based on species. Like rabbits, after consuming they initially produce soft eco-friendly feces, that they eat again to take further diet, before producing the ultimate, solid, fecal pellets. Some pikas, like the collared pika, happen to be recognized to store dead wild birds within their burrows for food during wintertime.
These creatures are herbivores, and feast upon a multitude of plant matter, including forbs, grasses, sedges, shrub twigs, moss, and lichen. Just like other lagomorphs, pikas have gnawing incisors with no canines, even though they have less molars than rabbits, and also have a dental formula of: 2..3.21..2.3
Rock-dwelling pikas have small litters of less than five youthful, as the burrowing species have a tendency to give birth to more youthful, and also to breed more often, possibly as a result of greater accessibility to sources within their native habitats. The youthful are born following a pregnancy duration of between 25 and thirty days.
Pikas are diurnal or crepuscular, with greater-elevation species generally being more active throughout the daytime. They reveal their peak activity right before the wintertime season. Pikas don’t hibernate, so that they generally spend some time throughout the summer time storing and collecting food they’ll eat within the winter. Each rock-dwelling pika stores its very own “haypile” of dried plant life, while burrowing species frequently share food stores using their burrow mates. Haying behavior is much more prominent at greater elevations. Most of the vocalizations and social behaviors that pikas exhibit are based on haypile defense.
Eurasian pikas generally reside in family groups and share responsibilities of gathering food and keeping watch. Some species are territorial. United States pikas (O. princeps and O. collaris) are asocial, leading solitary lives outdoors the breeding season.
Pikas have distinct calls that fluctuate in duration. The phone call may either be short and quick, longer and much more attracted out, or they may be songs. Rapid calls are a good example of geographic variation. The pikas determine the right time for you to make short calls by listening for cues for seem localization. The calls can be used for individual recognition, predator warning signals, territory defense, or in an effort to attract a potential partner. There’s also different calls with respect to the season. Early in the year, the songs be frequent throughout the breeding season. At the end of summer time, the vocalizations become short calls. Through various studies, the acoustic characteristics from the vocalizations could be a helpful taxonomic tool.
The typical lifespan in pikas is roughly seven years within the wild. A pika’s age is dependent upon the amount of adhesion lines around the periosteal bone around the lower jaw. The lifespan doesn’t differ between your sexes.
You will find 30 species listed.
There are lots of known fossil types of Ochotona described within the literature, in the Miocene epoch towards the early Holocene (extinct species) and offer (16.4- Ma). They resided in Europe, Asia, and The United States. Observe that some species listed here are common for Eurasia and The United States (O. gromovi, O. tologoica, O. zazhigini and most likely O. whartoni).
Paleontologists also have described multiple types of pika not known specific species (Ochotona indet.) or otherwise certainly identified (O. cf. antiqua, O. cf. cansus, O. cf. daurica, O. cf. eximia, O. cf. gromovi, O. cf. intermedia, O. cf. koslowi, O. cf. lagrelii, O. cf. nihewanica). The status of Ochotona (Proochotona) kirgisica and O. spelaeus is uncertain.
The “pusilla” number of pikas is characterised by archaic (plesiomorphic) oral cavity teeth and small size.
Its Northern Border American species migrated from Eurasia. They invaded the ” New World ” two times:
Ochotona cf. whartoni and small pikas from the O. pusilla group can also be known from Siberia. The extant, endemic United States species made an appearance within the Pleistocene. It’s been recommended the United States collared pika (O. collaris) and American pika (O. princeps) descended in the same ancestor because the steppe pika (O. pusilla).
The plethora of Ochotona was bigger previously, with extinct and extant species inhabiting the european union and eastern The United States, areas which are presently free from pikas. Pleistocene fossils from the extant steppe pika Ochotona pusilla presently indigenous to Asia have been discovered and in many countries of Europe in the Uk to Russia and from Italia to Belgium, and also the Asiatic extant northern pika Ochotona hyperborea in a single in the centre Pleistocene U . s . States.
Other genera of ochotonids (presently living only Ochotonidae) include except Ochotona (pika) extinct †Albertona, †Alloptox, †Amphilagus, †Australagomys, †Austrolagomys, †Bellatona, †Bellatonoides, †Bohlinotona, †Cuyamalagus, †Desmatolagus, †Eurolagus, †Gripholagomys, †Gymnesicolagus, †Hesperolagomys, †Heterolagus, †Kenyalagomys, †Lagopsis, †Marcuinomys, †Ochotonoides, †Ochotonoma, †Oklahomalagus, †Oreolagus, †Paludotona, †Piezodus, †Plicalagus, †Pliolagomys, †Prolagus, †Proochotona (syn. Ochotona), †Pseudobellatona, †Ptychoprolagus, †Russellagus, †Sinolagomys and †Titanomys. The first the first is Desmatolagus (middle Eocene to Miocene, 42.5-14.8 Ma), usually incorporated in Ochotonidae, sometimes in Leporidae or perhaps in neither ochotonid nor leporid stem-lagomorphs.
Ochotonids made an appearance in Asia between your late Eocene and also the early Oligocene, and ongoing to build up together with elevated distribution of C3 grasses in formerly forest dominated areas underneath the “weather optimum” in the late Oligocene to middle Miocene. They thrived in Eurasia, The United States as well as Africa. The height of the diversity happened throughout the period in the early Miocene to middle Miocene, many of them grew to become extinct throughout the transition in the Miocene to Pliocene, that which was supported by diversity rise in the leporids. It’s been suggested this switch between ochotonids and bigger leporids was brought on by growth of C4 plants (specially the Poaceae) associated with global cooling within the late Miocene, since extant pikas reveal a powerful preference for C3 plants (Asteraceae, Rosaceae and Fabaceae, most of them C3). Substitute of huge regions of forests by open grassland first began most likely in The United States and it is known as sometimes “nature’s eco-friendly revolution”.