The American pika, typically associated with rocky talus slopes in alpine ecosystems, can also be found in the vast low-elevation lava flows of Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Craters of the Moon National Monument, and Lava Beds National Monument. We seek to understand the remarkable story of pika persistence and distribution in America's wild lava lands through a combination of field surveys, photography, videography, subsurface microclimatology, GIS data analysis, and cutting-edge, high-resolution aerial thermal imagery and laser altimetry.
“In the summer of 2017, while searching for pika populations in low-elevation lava flows in Central Oregon, the research team deployed a camera trap at a particular haypile, which seemed promising with regard to pika observation. The camera trap not only captured a pika, but also prompted questions about pika behavior in terms of crepuscular activity, and resource allocation among multiple species located in the habitat. Camera traps in wildlife ecology can redefine concepts developed about pikas and other species, which I find to be most stimulating.” - Corrinne Oedekerk, Research Assistant
Remote camera traps have become increasingly popular in the field of wildlife research as their application can help discern how cryptic species interact with their environment over long periods without immediate observation. Our camera trap research intends to acquire more in-depth knowledge about American pika ecology in the unique habitats contained in low-elevation lava environments. So far, we have observed distinctive behaviors and the use of seemingly unoccupied sites by pikas, indicating the utility of remote cameras to provide new information about the species and adding to their extraordinary narrative.
Diana Popp, Corrinne Oedekerk, Amber Lamet and Matt Shinderman.