The Tsing Ling pika is endemic to the steppe regions of Central China and is distributed throughout the Shaanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Henan, Hubei, and Qinghai provinces (Hoffmann and Smith, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008). (Hoffmann and Smith, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008)
The Tsing Ling pika is found in the steppe region of central China. This area consists of temperate mixed forests, shrublands, and grasslands. A large majority of their territory is considered to be semi-arid. The species can also be found near agricultural or pastoral fields where humans in villages commonly grow crops or graze livestock. The species build and live in extensive burrow systems. The species can be commonly found at elevations between 1800 and 2700 m. However, they have been known to live at elevations of 4000 m (Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith et al., 1990; Wesche, Nadrowski, and Retzer, 2007). (Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith, et al., 1990; Wesche, et al., 2007)
Pika morphology is highly conserved among all species. All pikas have short silky fur, short rotund ears, and very short tails that consist of 8 vertebrate. They also have a short neck relative to body size that supports a large globular head with large black eyes. The burrowing pikas, like the Tsing Ling pika, have longer and stronger claws, relative to talus-dwelling pikas. they also has shorter whiskers than the talus-dwelling species of pika. The pelage coloration of the Tsing Ling pika differs from summer to winter. In the summer its' ventral pelage is a darker russet-brown and as winter comes the color fades and becomes a more dull brown. In both seasons the dorsal pelage is a grayish white. The Tsing Ling pika has a distinctly flatter and more broad skull than the other pika species that it lives sympatrically with. The Tsing Ling pika weighs around 80 grams and is around 12.5-17.6 cm long (Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith et al., 1990; Vakurin et al., 2012; Yang, 1990). (Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith, et al., 1990; Vakurin, et al., 2012; Yang, 1990)
Very little is known about the mating system of the Tsing Ling pika specifically. However, the mating systems of other Asian burrowing pikas, like the Tsing Ling pika, can be variable and are commonly monogamous or polygynous (Smith et al., 1990). (Smith, et al., 1990)
Very little is known about the mating behavior of the Tsing Ling pika specifically. Gestation periods for Asian burrowing pikas are approximately 25-30 days. The Tsing Ling pika can have litter sizes that range from 1 to 5. They typically reach sexual maturity and mate during the summer of their first year. Some burrowing pika females are known to choose their mates based on den structure. Females of some species are known to disperse at maturity. Juvenile males will sometimes receive the territories of their fathers upon their death since they stay in their natal area (Brandt, 1989; Smith et al., 1990). (Brandt, 1989; Smith, et al., 1990)
There is very little data available for the parental investment of Tsing Ling pikas. Males of other pika species have not been seen to give any direct parental investment to their offspring with the females contributing much of the investment. However, female investment is not very intensive or long which only includes a short nursing period. Males may give indirect parental investment by giving warning calls and protection from predators (Brandt, 1989; Whitworth, 1984). (Brandt, 1989; Whitworth, 1984)
there is very little data about the lifespan of Tsing Ling pikas. The lifespan of other pika species is generally 1-2 years in the wild and can live up to 4 years. Some species showed average captive life spans of 2.5-3 years (Smith et al., 1990; Yang, 1990). (Smith, et al., 1990; Yang, 1990)
There is very little known about the behavior of the Tsing Ling pika. What is known for sure is that it is diurnal and digs complex burrow systems that it lives in, like many other Asian pikas. For most other Asian pikas social behavior is limited to reproduction and family unit interactions for females. Male pikas typically only have interaction with other males involving territorial disputes. Males and females usually on interact during breeding season and that is typically for mating purposes. Pikas are noted for collecting vegetation from their immediate area and piling it up into a hay pile in their burrow. They use this burrow as stored food for over the winter when food is scare in the cold harsh climates of northern Asia (Brandt, 1989; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith et al., 1990; Whitworth, 1984). (Brandt, 1989; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith, et al., 1990; Whitworth, 1984)
There is very little home range data available for the Tsing Ling pika. For most other Asian pikas their home range consists of their burrow and an area of land that surrounds their burrow. There is little data on how large this area is for the Tsing Ling pika (Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith et al., 1990; Whitworth, 1984). (Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith, et al., 1990; Whitworth, 1984)
There is little information regarding communication among Tsing Ling pikas. Among other pika species there are various types of calls exhibited that serve different purposes such as mate solicitation, alarm calls, and territorial calls. Pikas will also scent mark areas of their territory to keep away other pikas. Pikas can also recognize individuals based on the scent of an individual gives off by the scent glands on its' cheeks (Brandt, 1989; Whitworth, 1984). (Brandt, 1989; Whitworth, 1984)
There is little information regarding the diet of Tsing Ling pikas. Most other Asian pika species are classified as generalized herbivores (Hoffmann and Smith, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith et al., 1990). (Hoffmann and Smith, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith, et al., 1990)
There is little information regarding predation on the Tsing Ling pika. The other species of pika are preyed upon heavily by a variety of different predators. They make up a large food source for many predatory animals, especially birds. Pikas will give alarm calls when a predator is spotted to warn those nearby and they will also retreat to their burrow for protection (Brandt, 1989; Davidson, Detling, and Brown, 2012; Retzer and reudenbach, 2005; Whitworth, 1984). The known predators of the Tsing Ling pika are not well studied. However, the predators are likely to be similar to the other species of Asian pikas. These predators include polecats, falcons and buzzards, foxes, pallas cats, and snow leopards (Davidson, Detling, and Brown 2012). (Brandt, 1989; Davidson, et al., 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Whitworth, 1984)
Tsing Ling pikas belong to the steppe and shrub land ecosystem in central China and there is little information regarding how this specific species impacts their environment. However, it is known that other Asian pika species play a role in nutrient recycling for the same ecosystems by making hay piles in their burrows. Pikas can accumulate large amounts of vegetation within a single hay pile and as that pile decomposes it contributes to the direct recycling of nutrients in plant biomass to the top soil. There is some evidence that these decomposing hay piles also increase the productivity and biomass on the plants in the soil above them. Pikas can also negatively impact their ecosystem by severely reducing plant biomass to make their hay piles if populations become too large for an area. The act of digging up soil to make their burrows helps loosen the soil which can increase plant productivity and increased water infiltration. Pika burrows are also extremely stable and can hold up for multiple years without regular maintenance. Pikas will sometimes cooperatively share the safety of their burrow with other small vertebrates and invertebrates and old burrows become great homes for other species. Asian pikas are also important food sources for predators like falcons and foxes which heavily rely upon their populations as a primary food source (Davidson, Detling, and Brown, 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, Nadrowski, and Retzer, 2007). (Davidson, et al., 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, et al., 2007)
Little is known about whether the Tsing Ling pika confers any specific ecological importance to humans. Other species of pika have been hunted in the past for their pelts, but the trade in their pelts in recent decades has diminished. Some Asian burrowing species of pika have been found to increase the growth of certain vegetation that are preferred by livestock. This can positively impact those people who raise and rely on livestock as a form of income and food by increasing grazing material (Davidson, Detling, and Brown, 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, Nadrowski, and Retzer, 2007). (Davidson, et al., 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, et al., 2007)
Little is known about any potential negative impacts from the Tsing Ling pika on its' towards humans. There is some information regarding how other Asian pika species impact local human populations. The most known effect that pikas have on humans is that as pikas graze on the same vegetation and areas as local population's livestock they are effectively competing against them. One study of a pika species in Mongolia concluded that the competition between both species reduces both of their potential population numbers. In this way they are seen as a pest by most local people and their government. As both pikas and livestock eat the same vegetation they markedly reduce the prevalence of preferred plant species and allow other non palatable species to grow and out compete the preferred vegetation (Davidson, Detling, and Brown, 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, Nadrowski, and Retzer, 2007). (Davidson, et al., 2012; Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Wesche, et al., 2007)
The Tsing Ling pika has been given the least concern status on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This species still faces threats to its' conservation status despite being considered of least concern. With the rapid expansion of the Chinese population, deforestation of the species' habitat to create areas for a growing population and their livestock to live threatens its' status in the wild. This species is also considered an agricultural pest since it consumes much of the same vegetation as grazing livestock and competes with the livestock of local farmers. The species is seen as a pest and is commonly poisoned by locals and their governments in an effort to reduce their presence near the field they graze their livestock in (Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Wesche, Nadrowski, and Retzer, 2007). (Retzer and Reudenbach, 2005; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Wesche, et al., 2007)
What little research that has been done regarding the Tsing Ling pika has been in regards to its' taxonomic grouping within pikas. There has been many discussions regarding the taxonomic groupings of pikas as research on them continues, especially on the Tsing Ling Pika. When first classified the Tsing Ling pika was placed as a subspecies of the Moupin pika and was regarded as such for much of its' history as a species. Other early research attempted to place the Tsing ling pika as a subspecies of the Daurian pika. Within the last few decades the use of advanced genetic analysis and morphological comparison techniques have resulted in the Tsing Ling pika being viewed as its' own independent species (Ning and Changlin, 1992; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith et al., 1990). (Ning and Changlin, 1992; Smith and Johnston, 2008; Smith, et al., 1990)
Jon Kiefer (author), Miami University, Joseph Baumgartner (editor), Miami University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior, specialized for digging or burrowing.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
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