A new species of a small mammal pika in the rabbit family has been discovered in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas in Sikkim, a study has claimed, saying it is an important part of the ecosystem. Identified as ‘Ochotona sikimaria’ — the new pika species was discovered by the study based on genetic data and skull measurements. The study has been published in the journal ‘Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution’.
These members of the rabbit family look like tailless rats and have been in the news in North America for their sensitivity to impacts of climate change, like increasing temperature, which has caused several of the populations in pika series go extinct.
Researchers at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru have identified a new species of Pika, high up in the Sikkim Himalayas. In their recently published study, the group, including Dr Uma Ramakrishnan and her collaborators, probed the genetic origins of the little mammal, only to discover an entirely new lineage, with a unique evolutionary past. Their work is expected to pave the way for a deeper understanding of biodiversity in the Himalayan region.