NOROCK EcoLunch Seminar Series
NOROCK EcoLunch is a forum for students, researchers, visiting scientists and collaborators in the environmental sciences to present their current and past work. Presentations will range from brown bag discussions of ongoing projects to more formal seminar presentations.
Date: Tuesday, December 4
Time: 12 p.m. Mountain Time
Presenter: Peter Billman
Title: Quantifying the Impacts of Aridity on American Pikas in the Northern Rockies, Using Space-For-Time Substitution
Abstract: As documented across numerous taxa, the effects of contemporary climate change have begun impacting species worldwide in various ways. Many of the best studies in the field use resurveys to document distributional shifts and population changes over time, but many challenges arise when baseline surveys don't yet exist. However, some species leave behind evidence, such as fecal material, that can last for decades to centuries on the landscape. Our research is examining the impacts of increasing aridity and temperatures on American pikas (Ochotona princeps), using a space-for-time substitution, in the Northern Rockies. This study design allows us to survey the broad gradient of ecological conditions that the species experiences in this particular ecoregion. Additionally, since baseline surveys for pikas are sparse in this area, we've collected data on both current and historic evidence from 660 sites in total. Through the use of three metrics, including 1) site occupancy, 2) population density, and 3) upslope retraction, we've identified the climatic variables that are most important across different seasons, and noted how populations across mountain ranges in close proximity may be responding asynchronously. Overall, this research is seeking to further our understanding of the impacts of aridity on montane species and examine how quantitative population metrics can be combined to identify areas of greatest conservation concern.
December 18th - Kimberly Szcodronski: TBD
Mountain ecosystems are expected to change with continued reductions in annual snowpack that have been observed worldwide over the past half-century. Recent snow droughts in North America have been attributed to unusually warm temperatures that cause winter precipitation to fall as rain, rather than snow. Many species of alpine wildlife depend on snowpack for insulation from extreme cold and...