Several issues have been identified as potential ecosystem changes influenced by climate change. While the exact role climate change is playing in these issues is unknown, they are important topics to study and monitor. Climate change issues facing Lassen Volcanic National Park include change in snow pack and precipitation, shifting wildfire regimes, and species and habitat management.
What is Climate Change?
Pikas in Peril
The American pika (Ochotona princeps) is considered an indicator species for detecting ecological effects of climate change. Results from recent studies suggest that in some areas pikas are being lost from lower elevations in response to increased warming, and thus, their suitable habitat is being reduced. Lassen contains typical pika habitat comprised of high elevation talus fields and is one of eight National Park Service units. In 2011, scientists began a a 3-year research and monitoring project called Pikas in Peril. Additionally, the Upper Columbia Basin Network has developed a long-term pika monitoring protocol, which is being implemented in LAVO and three other Pacific West Region parks.
Habitat Connectivity Will Likely Contribute to Pika Persistence at Lassen
In 2016, pika survey results showed that the American pika population is well-distributed throughout the talus boulder fields and lava flows in the park. Highest concentrations are found in the southeastern portion of the park and north of Lassen Peak. Pika population at Lassen does not show a strong association with elevation. The configuration and connectivity of habitat patches appear to be most important.
Monitoring Natural Cycles
Phenology is the study of seasonal or periodic biological events such as flowering, leaf-out, insect emergence, and animal migration. Lassen is one of six pilot parks participating in the California Phenology Project. Phenology has been recognized as a indicator of biological responses to climate change and is perhaps our best opportunity to detect the impacts of climate change on our natural resources.
Last updated: February 14, 2019