Front Range Pika Project

Program Contact

Chris Ray

cray@colorado.edu

Citizen science in the mountains is the focus of this project, which trains volunteers to do research on the American pika, a small relative of rabbits that inhabits the Rockies and other rocky places throughout the western United States. Volunteers form the core of the Front Range Pika Project, a citizen-science partnership coordinated by Rocky Mountain Wild and the Denver Zoo.

Pikas are sensitive to climate and are disappearing from some areas in a pattern that suggests they are succumbing to recent climate change. Several researchers at CU Boulder are studying changes in the pika’s distribution, and have partnered with the Front Range Pika Project to offer students and other citizens a chance to contribute to these studies.

This project involves late-summer and fall monitoring of pika habitats in specific, mostly off-trail and remote locations along the Colorado Front Range, in Rocky Mountain National Park, and in other parts of Colorado, to determine how these habitats are changing and whether pikas are still present. Data collected by volunteers are made available through an interactive website, providing informative maps and supporting data useful for researchers, land managers and the general public.

If you like to explore high elevations off trail, and would like to use some of your time in the mountains to volunteer as a member of our team, we will be happy to provide you with training, resources and support needed to find our study sites, follow our research protocol, and contribute your data on line. Our volunteers train together and work in pairs either with other volunteers or with their own friends, partners or family members, conducting annual pika surveys and enjoying an annual volunteer appreciation event. We look forward to hearing from you at www.pikapartners.org.

  • Program Activity

    Location

    In Colorado

    Denver

    Dates

    Ongoing

    Public or Private

    Private Program (by request only or for a specific audience or group)

    Program Fee

    Not Applicable

    Additional Info

    Our trainings and pika habitat surveys take place in remote, off-road and off-trail locations in several mountain counties, mostly 1-10 miles from the nearest road. Pikas live almost exclusively in boulder fields and talus-covered slopes, so scrambling over rocks and boulders in steep and uneven terrain is a natural part of each pika survey. Hiking distances and level of difficulty are documented for each of our study sites, and volunteers are able to select from the range of available study locations according to personal preference. Schedules and locations are available through www.pikapartners.org, but our main training event generally occurs in July on Loveland Pass, and our fall volunteer appreciation event usually occurs in Boulder or Denver.

Sponsoring Units

  • College of Arts & Sciences

  • Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
  • Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR)
  • Research Institutes

Program Partners

  • Rocky Mountain Wild
  • Denver Zoo
  • CitSci.org
  • Continental Divide Research Learning Center
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Niwot Ridge LTER
  • INSTAAR

Audiences Served

  • Adult Learners
  • Families
  • General Public
  • Non-Profit Organization
  • Students - Homeschooled
  • Students - High School
  • Teachers - High School