So much time in the field this week!

After spending a windy / rainy Monday setting traps on the West Knoll of Niwot Ridge, we had our hands full of pikas on the first day of trapping season! I learned how to assemble and position traps in the field yesterday, which involves a lot of strategic rock positioning and frankly reminded me a little of building rock dams .. totally different setting, totally different purpose, still dependent on finding the best fit in variable conditions : )

This morning, Ashley, Airy, Emma, Coco and I all met Chris and Max up at the West Knoll for trapping. We checked each trap (there were 20 in total) and each crew member stopped to sit with a pika if the trap was holding a calm, previously untagged animal.

In all, we found T E N pikas and took data/samples from S I X. This might sound like a tiny sample size for folks involved in microbiology and other sciences, but I can assure you that this is a considerable number for the first day of the season. It’s also extremely exciting if you consider that the outlook for pika survival this season was … a little grim … after a late winter snow onset and very prolonged snowpack into the growing / haying season.

pictures to come – everyone had their hands full in an intense and coordinated effort to collect good data without stressing or harming our favorite alpine lagomorph.


i am constantly amazed by these animals;
here is the proof

— photos courtesy of Dr Chris Ray & Ashley Whipple, July 2019

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