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Press Release 13-204

Mountain pikas, relatives of rabbits, survive at warm sea-level temperatures by eating mosses

Mosses also may protect high-peak pikas against climate change effects

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a pika peers out from behind thick moss in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

A small mammal known as a pika peers out from behind thick moss in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge.

Credit: Jo Varner


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Pika next to a down tree

Researchers discovered that high-elevation pikas survive at sea-level by eating moss.

Credit: Mallory Lambert


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A pika sits among rocks and moss

A pika sits among rocks and moss; on high peaks, pikas are threatened by global warming.

Credit: Jo Varner


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Biologist Jo Varner collects vegetation from the haypiles pikas build under rockpiles

Biologist Jo Varner collects vegetation from the "haypiles" pikas build under rockpiles in winter.

Credit: Erin Moulding


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Jo Varner and Denise Dearing in a lab

Jo Varner and Denise Dearing found that pikas may be able to adapt to climate change.

Credit: University of Utah


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