Biologist Dr. Philippe Henry Erroneously Assumes Pika Rodent Has Adapted To 6°C Temperature Change

By Ed Caryl

We continually see papers in the supposedly “scientific” literature that just assume climate change, usually warming, and then draw conclusions based in that assumption.

The media also does this. A recent example is a study documented on the BBC on North American pika, a small rodent that lives on rocky hillsides in the mountains of North America. The study area in this example was in British Columbia, Canada, in the coastal mountains and the northern reaches of the Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park.

pika_haying_in_rocks
The pika has neither adapted to 6°C climate change, nor moved to higher elevations. Shown above is the American pika with mouthful of dried grass. Sequoia National Park, CA. Dcrjsr – own work, CC BY 3.0.

Here are Dr. Philippe Henry’s assumptions:

I decided to study the American pika [pronounced pee-kah] along BC’s Coast Mountains because we have observed a six degree temperature change along an elevation gradient from sea level to 1500 meters where the pika lives…we know from previous studies of the pika that it is particularly sensitive to changes in temperature, which made it ideal for our study. The key for me is to have sustainable and safe interactions with wildlife as researchers. To me, there is a direct connection with this and UNBC’s status as Canada’s Green University.”

 What questions did Dr. Philippe Henry wish to answer when he set out on his research?

(1) Would the pika move from that habitat in flux?
(2) Would it stay and, if so, would it die off or find a way to adapt?

Here are the actual temperature conditions as measured at Banff National Park:

Ed_1 Banff

Temperature record by NASA GISS for Banff National Park (as measured at the townsite of Banff).

Note that the temperature increase as measured at the trend line is less than 1°C, and for the recent 30 years it has been cooling by about 0.5°C. There has certainly not been a 6°C temperature change, though there was one year in the 20th century at 0°C average temperature and one year of over 5°C average temperature, most years have been in the range of 2 to 4°C.

Dr. Philips discovered that the pika were not moving to higher elevations, so he decided that they are adapting in place.

And because of his assumptions, (and perhaps to protect his grant money) he could not allow himself the conclusion that the pika are quite happy right where they are because the climate is barely changing.

 

8 responses to “Biologist Dr. Philippe Henry Erroneously Assumes Pika Rodent Has Adapted To 6°C Temperature Change”

  1. Graeme No.3

    But Pierre, if they admit, even to themselves, that the temperature hasn’t changed very much then the whole pack of cards would collapse.

    I must admit that the temperature change was rather higher than I’d have guessed, but the coastal mountains will be affected by the nearby sea temperature and the PDO cycle seems to fit the chart.
    This is just the usual nonsense which passes peer review these days, but he will run into trouble with some hysterics for claiming that animals adapt to changes rather than curling up and dying. That sort of thinking would ruin “the polar bears are dying out” claims.

  2. John F. Hultquist

    I’ve hiked in the Canadian and US mountains where Pikas are found. I’ve never encountered anyone using the “Pee – ” pronunciation. There must be a temperature difference between the high elevations where they live in Canada and the relatively low elevations here in Washington State. They are also found in Denali National Park. Somewhere I have a copy of a paper saying they live on nunataks in B. C. and eat the brains of birds that get carried to those cold heights by storms/winds. There may be sub-species that live in these very different locals.
    Humans make dams. Beavers make dams. Humans harvest and store vegetation (hay). Pikas harvest and store vegetation (hay). There must be a lesson therein.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pika_pile.JPG

  3. Streetcred

    He can’t have his cake and eat it … either the Pika is sensitive to temperature change or it is adaptive to temperature change … the liars hoist themselves upon their own petard. Since the temperature record shows no sign of increasing it is neither sensitive nor adapting to the imaginary temperature change. Where do I collect my PhD? … already have the Masters.

  4. Henning Nielsen

    Can’t find out, in the link, if it says 6F or 6C? Although even +6F is probably way too high.

    1. Ed Caryl

      It is degrees C.

  5. DirkH

    Global Warming is exclusively a modulation of the minimum temperatures.
    http://www.science20.com/virtual_worlds/blog/is_global_warming_really_a_recovery_from_regional_cooling-121820

    Do Pikas die when they can’t properly freeze in the night?
    The maximum temps during the day do not change at all.

    The Pika researcher is part of the big lying machine called government science + government media.

  6. Scott Clay

    Is he stating 6 degrees due to climate change or a 6 degree temperature difference between sea level and 1500 meters?

    1. Ed Caryl

      He is stating 6 degrees due to climate change. A difference due to altitude wouldn’t matter to the Pikas. They live at 1500 meters at that latitude.