A furry mountain critter known as the American pika has disappeared from a large stretch of habitat in North Lake Tahoe, the largest pika die-off in the modern age, according to UC Santa Cruz scientists — and the result of climate change.
A study published in PLOS One this August outlines the findings of a six-year, and ultimately unsuccessful, search for the high-elevation rodents in a 165-square-mile area of the Sierra Nevada. Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River and CA 267 bound this roughly triangular zone surrounding Mt. Pluto.
The research team, led by biologist Joseph Stewart, began monitoring the area when the pika was petitioned for listing under the California and federal endangered species acts.