Understanding species-habitat-climate relationships using pikas as model system — 23rd July, Bangalore

  • On:
    July 23, 2014
  • Timing:
    4:00PM to 6:00PM
  • Location:
    CES Seminar Hall
  • City:
    Bangalore

Title: “Understanding species-habitat-climate relationships using pikas as model system”

Speaker: Dr. Sabuj Bhattacharyya, DBT-IISC Research Associate, Ishtiaq Lab, CES, IISC

Background: One central theme in ecological research is to understand the interaction between a species and its environment. This knowledge is extremely crucial to understand ecological consequences of climate change predictions for species which lives in isolated habitat. Alpine species that are adapted to cold climates, live in highly fragmented and isolated mountain habitat, and have poor dispersal abilities, might be espe­cially vulnerable to climate change, because they may not be able to move their ranges and adapt quickly enough to track shifts in suitable microclimate or habitat that result from a rapidly changing climate.

Pikas (Ochotona spp.) are small, herbivorous lagomorphs found in alpine ecosystems, where they play important functional roles. Pikas, especially the talus-dwelling species, have several traits that make them vulnerable to climate change. This includes poor dispersal ability, close asso­ciation with patchy habitats on mountain islands, high sensitivity to temperature fluctuation, and low fecundity. Although Himalaya is home to seven different pika spe­cies, the absence of long-term data on these species prevents any sort of projection analysis of their responses to future climate change. Hence, influence of climate, habitat structures on alpine small mammal ecology was studied in western Himalaya using a widely distributed but least studied alpine lagomorphs, Royle’s pika (Ochotona roylei), as model species. The present talk will discuss the finding of recent research on Royle’s pika, especially how various factors affecting its distribution in different spatial scale, influence of snow melting pattern, habitat microclimate on its abundance, activity and factors affecting its foraging decision.

Finally, the talk will discuss about the future research direction in population genetics and climate change predictive modeling using Royle’s pika as model species.

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