RIDGWAY - This weekend, become one of many citizen scientists taking part in a “Pika Blitz” to help scientists continue to collect data about the charismatic American Pika.
The event, headed up by the Silverton-based Mountain Studies Institute, provides volunteers with the tools they need to hit the backcountry in search of pika, which are considered by many scientists to be an indicator species of ecological and climate change.
On Saturday, Aug. 4, an all-day training (in the classroom and field) is offered in Ridgway and Durango from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Ridgway volunteers meet at the Ridgway Public Library. Durango volunteers meet at the Durango Discovery Museum's theater.
On Sunday, Aug. 5, volunteers head out on their own into the field equipped with maps, GPS and data collection sheets in hand to their "adopted" PikaNET site.
This will be the only PikaNET workshop held in the San Juan Mountains this summer. The cost is free, but volunteers must register in advance at www.mountainstudies.org. For more information contact Emily Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970/382-6908.
PikaNET is a citizen science initiative to engage people in monitoring the American Pika, a high alpine critter that is considered an indicator species of climate change due to its high vulnerability to warming global temperatures.
Annual trainings teach volunteers what species and indicators they are looking for, where to find them, how to collect data, and finally how to submit the data to a statewide online database.
Data that participants collect will become part of a larger effort to monitor pika populations in Colorado and across the Southern Rockies.