The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is a keystone species for biodiversity on the Tibetan plateau

Andrew T. Smith, J. Marc Foggin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

212 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is necessary to look at the big picture when managing biological resources on the Qinghai-Xizang (Tibetan) plateau. Plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) are poisoned widely across the plateau. Putative reasons for these control measures are that pika populations may reach high densities and correspondingly reduce forage for domestic livestock (yak, sheep, horses), and because they may be responsible for habitat degradation. In contrast, we highlight the important role the plateau pika plays as a keystone species in the Tibetan plateau ecosystem. The plateau pika is a keystone species because it: (i) makes burrows that are the primary homes to a wide variety of small birds and lizards; (ii) creates microhabitat disturbance that results in an increase in plant species richness; (iii) serves as the principal prey for nearly all of the plateau's predator species; (iv) contributes positively to ecosystem-level dynamics. The plateau pika should be managed in concert with other uses of the land to ensure preservation of China's native biodiversity, as well as long-term sustainable use of the pastureland by domestic livestock.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-240
Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Conservation
Volume2
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1999

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keystone species
plateau
biodiversity
livestock
ecosystem
horse
burrow
lizard
microhabitat
sheep
forage
species richness
predator
bird
disturbance
habitat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

Cite this

The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is a keystone species for biodiversity on the Tibetan plateau. / Smith, Andrew T.; Foggin, J. Marc.

In: Animal Conservation, Vol. 2, No. 4, 11.1999, p. 235-240.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Smith, Andrew T. ; Foggin, J. Marc. / The plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae) is a keystone species for biodiversity on the Tibetan plateau. In: Animal Conservation. 1999 ; Vol. 2, No. 4. pp. 235-240.
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