The rocky habitat of pikas, found in various mountain ranges in Canada and the United States, is expected to slowly disappear as the climate warms and forests expand to higher elevations.
In the United States, limited evidence shows that some pika populations have some adaptive capacity, but others are experiencing widespread decline. The state of Canadian populations is less well known, largely due to a lack of genetic data, says researcher Kate Arpin of the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
She hopes the genetic monitoring tool she and her collaborators have built can soon change that.
Even though she admits that this type of genetic surveillance is very new, advances have been made for other species, including polar bears and deer.
The use of this type of genetic monitoring tools is certainly promising, she believes, specifying that if the sampling is carried out over several years, it could potentially be possible to observe the evolution of the species through its excrement.