Too Hot to Trot? Pika Ecology in a Time of Global Change

Wednesday, Feb. 5 – Third Street Center, Carbondale
Thursday, Feb. 6 – Hallam Lake, Aspen
6:00 p.m.
Free and open to the public

American pikas are small mammals that typically live in rockslides and boulder fields at high elevations – you may have seen them hiking in the mountains around Aspen during the summer! These adorable animals are sometimes considered “canaries” in the “coal mine” of climate change because they are sensitive to warm temperatures and cannot disperse very far. But despite their reliance on cold climates, pikas are sometimes found in surprising places. Johanna Varner studies how these animals persist in these unusual habitats, with the goal of understanding how we can better manage and protect them. She will share some recent findings on how pikas can modify their behavior to accommodate some aspects of climate change and how Roaring Fork Valley residents can get involved in monitoring the pikas close to home.

About the Speaker
Dr. Johanna “Pika Jo” Varner is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. She has been studying pikas for the last 10 years, in habitats from Oregon to southwest Colorado. She has also developed several citizen science programs to engage local residents in monitoring these charismatic animals. Although she is now one of Colorado’s leading pika experts, she has had past lives as an engineer, a bakery manager, a plum farmer, and a ski bum. In her spare time, she loves to brew beer, ski, and trail run with her dogs in the mountains and in the desert. Learn more >>click here

What is Naturalist Nights?
Each winter, together with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and Roaring Fork Audubon, Wilderness Workshop invites regional experts to explore and share topics of the natural world through slideshows and discussion.

From January to March, this popular series takes place in Carbondale at the Third Street Center every Wednesday evening at 6PM, and every Thursday at 6PM in Aspen at Hallam Lake providing an educational activity for visitors and locals alike. Tea, donated by Two Leaves Tea Company, and cookies donated by Paradise Bakery, Village Smithy, or Bonfire Coffee are offered.

Contact for further info:
Sarah Johnson
To return to the Naturalist Nights schedule >>click here