Location : Mount Robson Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada.
With winter’s grip now firmly enveloping our forests, peaks and valleys, we’re left to huddle around campfires and hot tea, dreaming of warmer days, and cool summer mornings. Yet, this change of the seasons is a testament to the inevitable, a facet of the natural progression of things. Here, in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies’ tallest peak, Mount Robson, mountain goats, grizzly bears and caribou reign and roam free. Beneath these rocky slopes and sheer cliffs, moose, elk and black bear dominate a landscape dotted with black spruce, lodgepole pine, and peppered with quaking aspen and balsam poplar who call these floodplains and gullies home. With the wax and wane of the seasons, this community of organisms uses the vertical freedom of the mountains to seek out optimal habitat. But, as global temperatures warm, these alpine plants and animals are forced skyward in search of cooler conditions. This skyward march is pushing some species to the summit of their physical limit and physiological tolerance. One creature who’s running out of mountain to climb is the American pika, a tiny mammal widely considered a sentinel of climate change, one that lives in the rocky crags of our planet’s highest mountains. With these “islands in the sky” shrinking like the low-lying islands of the Maldives, the fate of the pika remains uncertain. So, next time you glance skyward to a distant peak, think of the pika reveling in their snowy world.
By Charles Post