Friday in the office

Most days, I am in an office, at a computer, making maps. Yesterday and today, these were my offices for the afternoon:

And on this particular occasion, these were sharing my office:

These creatures may be the only thing more adorable than saw-whet owls. They're called pikas, and they make noises that you would expect its squeak-toy likeness to make. They also collect grass and flowers to assemble waist-high hay piles, which becomes their winter larder. One of the ongoing projects at Teton Science School's Conservation Research Center is to establish baseline pika habitat occupancy models. These lagomorphs (the name of their evolutionary lineage, which they share with rabbits) live in the space between rocks and boulders on steep, eroding mountain slopes. They are also very temperature sensitive, and with a warming climate, we predict that their populations will be found at higher and higher (therefore cooler and cooler) elevations. Mountain-dwelling species like pika only have so much altitude to retreat to before they can no longer move any higher. While a hundred pika sitting on the peak of a mountain may be a pretty cute image, it reminds us of those images of polar bears floating away into the sea on tiny ice chunks.
Anyway, we're establishing baseline data for habitat comparison purposes down the road. This, in a nutshell, involves scampering up steep and precarious scopes in remote locations looking for any sign of these under-appreciated animals.


  1. You were right! They're so fluffy and squeaky! I really want one but I should probably settle for a bunny.

  2. Awwww! There are pretty cute!


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