The pika eradication effort could have unintended consequences for other species, Foggin and Smith wrote in what is considered the definitive study in Animal Conservation in 1999. Pikas are a keystone species, providing many ecosystem functions to the Tibetan Plateau, they wrote. The animals are a major food source not just for wolves but for brown bears and most of the large predatory birds of the plateau, and many nesting bird species use pika burrows as shelters for breeding.
Marc Foggin [is] founding director of Plateau Perspectives, an organization in the provincial capital Xining that supports conservation and sustainable development. Foggin did research on mammals and birds in Qinghai as a grad student at Arizona State University in the 1990s.