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A reconnaissance survey for Collared Pika (Ochotona collaris) in northern Yukon

Sydney G. Cannings, Thomas S. Jung, Jeffrey H. Skevington, Isabelle Duclos, Saleem Dar


Collared Pika (Ochotona collaris) is a cold-adapted Beringian species that occurs on talus slopes and is sensitive to climate warming. Collared Pikas are patchily distributed throughout the sub-Arctic mountains of northwestern Canada and Alaska; however, information on their occurrence in the northern part of their distributional range is limited. In particular, no survey information is known from the southern Richardson Mountains and the Nahoni Mountains. We conducted aerial- and ground-based surveys to document Collared Pika occurrence and general habitat suitability in northern Yukon. We flew 505 km of aerial survey (not including ferrying to targetted survey areas) and performed ground surveys at 22 sites within the Richardson Mountains (including a portion of Dàadzàii Vàn Territorial Park) and the Nahoni Mountains in and adjacent to Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park. Overall, suitable habitat for Collared Pikas was patchy in the mountains of northern Yukon—talus was sparse and many patches of talus appeared to be unsuitable. Collared Pikas were detected at eight of 22 (36%) sites visited, representing important new records for the species in the northern portion of their range. Our reconnaissance provides a first approximation of habitat suitability for Collared Pikas of the mountains of northern Yukon, as well as new records for the species in the region. These data are useful in better determining the contemporary distribution of Collared Pika through species distribution modelling, and may serve to identify areas for more detailed survey and monitoring initiatives for this climate-sensitive mammal.


Collared Pika; Dàadzàii Vàn Territorial Park; distributional range; Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park; Ochotona collaris

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