New species of pika named Ochotona sikimaria discovered in Sikkim

Scientists have discovered a new species of Pika, a mammal belonging to the rabbit and hare family in the Himalayas in Sikkim.
It has been identified as Ochotona sikimaria’. It is quite distinctive from all other pika species based on the fecal pellets and tissue samples.
Ochotona sikimaria Pika species looks similar to the Moupin Pika, genetically it is completely different. Their specific differences are not visible in physical observation. But they are genetically very different.
Key Facts

  • Pikas are members of the rabbit family and look like tailless rats.
  • They live in the mountains or in temperate regions.
  • They are a keystone species and ecosystem engineers.
  • They do not hibernate unlike other mammalian species inhabiting such cold climates.
  • The common name pika is basically used for any member of the Ochotonidae family.

What are keystone species?
Keystone species determine the ability of a large number of other species to survive in the ecosystem. When they become extinct, it has cascading effect on extinction of other species.  Example of keystone species is bees as pollination of fruits and flowers is dependent on them.



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