Pika, Ochotona spp.

Pika (Ochotonaspp) is a small, herbivorous,conspicuously cute mammal related torabbits and hares. There are 30 speciesof pikas (Ochotona spp.) distributedthroughout the world. Five species of Pikashave been reported hitherto from Nepalnamely Ochotonacurzoniae, O. nubrica, O.thibetana, O. macrotis, O. roylei. It has beenrecorded from mountainous areas withinthe habitat range of rhododendron, juniper,fir and oak forest to Shrubby and alpinemeadows.

Pika is adapted to the cold climate inhigh-elevation boulder fields and alpinemeadows in the mountains. But the veryadaptations that have allowed this speciesto survive make pikas extra sensitive to thechanges wrought by global warming. Risingtemperatures threaten pikas by shorteningthe period available for them to gather food,changing the types of plants in the alpinemeadows where they feed, shrinking the sizeof alpine meadows, and reducing insulatingsnowpack that protects them from coldsnaps in the winter.A study is being conducted on pellets andear punch samples of pika collected from theLangtang region. PCR was done to amplify theCytochrome B region and the products weresequenced to identify the existing speciesof pika in this range to and understand thephylogenetic relationship among them.