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Brief Introduction to Study on Ili Pika (Ochotona iliensis)

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Brief Introduction to Study on Ili Pika (Ochotona iliensis) Li Weidong (Xinjiang Institute of Environment Protection, Urumqi, China) PHOTOS In 1983 and 1985 I collected a new species of Lagomorpha from the Tianshan Mountains, Nilka County, Xinjiang, China.Subsequently, the new species was named Ochotona iliensis Li et Ma, 1986.For more than ten years since the discovery of the Ili pika, we have studied its taxonomy, characteristics, habitat, distribution, population ecology, daily activity rhythm, reproductive biology and feeding habits.The results show that this is a special species of pika, and that it is also a species threatened with extinction. TAXONOMY Three type-specimens were identified during the initial phase of study and classification of the Ili pika:1)the holotype #83001, adult, collected from 3,200m altitude on 5 August 1983; and the paratypes, #85003, adult, and #85004, subadult, collected from 3,300m altitude on 13 and 14 August 1985, respectively. The holotype and paratype #85004 are preserved at the Xinjiang Institute of Environment Protection, Urumqi, whereas the paratype #85003 is preserved at the Institute of Zoology, Academia Sinica, Beijing. The Ili pika is a very beautiful animal with generally bright coloration.There are big rusty-red spots on the forehead and the crown, as well as on the sides of the neck. The neck spots are connected under the throat.Hair color behind the ears and on the nape is pale. ...read more.


in the southern and northern areas in the Tianshan mountains, respectively.Thus, the total area occupied is less than 20,000 km2, but only 17.05% of this area is suitable habitat (slightly sloping large rock walls) and/or is inhabited by the Ili pika, so that its area of distribution is very limited. ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS As shown by Smith et al. (1990), there are significant differences in biology and ecology between species of talus-dwelling and burrowing Ochotona. The Ili pika is a characteristic non-burrowing talus-dwelling species.As with most pika species, the Ili pika has the habit of storing vegetation in caches.Like most talus-dwelling forms, it lives at relatively low population density and its densities do not vary greatly with time, and individuals may live to relatively old age compared with burrowing species. It generally lives alone and at very low population density.The species is notably lacking in conspecific social relationships.Perhaps as a result, Ili pika does not liaison by voice.An important distinction with other pikas is that the Ili pika exhibits nocturnal activity, in addition to its diurnal activity. POPULATION CHARACTERISTICS In our investigations only 27 Ili pikas have been found.Taking into consideration the relative density of the species (0.87%) and the ratio of suitable habitat it occupies throughout its range (17.05%), we conclude that the total population number is approximately 2,900 - with only about 2,000 ...read more.


DAILY ACTIVITY RHYTHM Under normal conditions, most pika species are considered to be diurnally active, and to be only occasionally active at night.However, we found that the timing of Ili pika activity was different from other known species (except the little pika, O. pusilla), based on our field observations.In addition, the daily activity rhythm of the Ili pika was studied with an automatic activity recorder refitted by us in a man-made outdoor environment.The main results were the following:1) the Ili pika has a characteristic of nocturnal activity; 2) for several seasons of observation, the mean rate of diurnal activity was 34.22%, and that of nocturnal activity was 47.42%; the static periods of activity are repeatedly alternative in a day; 3) seasonal changes of the active rhythm revealed that the main winter peak in activity was in the morning (9:00), and at other seasons the peaks were near midnight (Autumn 22:00 -- 2:00; Spring 23:00 -- 3:00). Generally, intermittent activity occurs after the main activity peaks; 4) the activity rhythm in May and that of other periods are significantly different; the reason for high activity rates in May could be because of breeding during that period; and 5) correlation analysis activity patterns with six independent variables showed that temperature was main correlative factor. ...read more.

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