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Predicting the future impact of droughts on ungulate populations in arid and semi-arid environments.

Duncan, C; Chauvenet, ALM; McRae, LM; Pettorelli, N; (2012) Predicting the future impact of droughts on ungulate populations in arid and semi-arid environments. PLoS One , 7 (12) , Article e51490. 10.1371/journal.pone.0051490.

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Abstract

Droughts can have a severe impact on the dynamics of animal populations, particularly in semi-arid and arid environments where herbivore populations are strongly limited by resource availability. Increased drought intensity under projected climate change scenarios can be expected to reduce the viability of such populations, yet this impact has seldom been quantified. In this study, we aim to fill this gap and assess how the predicted worsening of droughts over the 21(st) century is likely to impact the population dynamics of twelve ungulate species occurring in arid and semi-arid habitats. Our results provide support to the hypotheses that more sedentary, grazing and mixed feeding species will be put at high risk from future increases in drought intensity, suggesting that management intervention under these conditions should be targeted towards species possessing these traits. Predictive population models for all sedentary, grazing or mixed feeding species in our study show that their probability of extinction dramatically increases under future emissions scenarios, and that this extinction risk is greater for smaller populations than larger ones. Our study highlights the importance of quantifying the current and future impacts of increasing extreme natural events on populations and species in order to improve our ability to mitigate predicted biodiversity loss under climate change.

Type: Article
Title: Predicting the future impact of droughts on ungulate populations in arid and semi-arid environments.
Location: United States
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051490
Keywords: Animals, Climate Change, Desert Climate, Droughts, Ecosystem, Female, Mammals, Population Dynamics, Time Factors
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Genetics, Evolution and Environment
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1487427
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