Regional extirpations of pikas (Ochatona princeps) within the last few decades have been attributed to global warming. Other recent global alterations such as increased nitrogen (N) deposition and associated selenium (Se) deficiency may further stress pika populations. In 2003 and 2004, we live-trapped pikas from three populations in Wyoming and measured Se values in their hair. We also sampled hair and liver from museum specimens collected throughout the Northern Rocky Mountains in 1987 and 1988. Our results suggest that liver and hair values were related, and that pika hair reflected the Se concentrations of the geologic parent materials. We determined that animals residing in several remote areas in the Rocky Mountain region could be Se deficient and that increase in N deposition correlated with an increase rather than a decrease in Se values in pika hair. In addition, we found no relation between Se contents in hair and body condition index, suggesting that low Se levels may not have negative effects on individual pikas. Whether Se levels influence reproductive success of pikas is unknown and should be the focus of future studies.
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Vol. 43 • No. 3