Counting sheep in climate change predictions

May 29, 2009

Climate change can have devastating effects on endangered species, but new mathematical models may be able to aid conservation of a population of bighorn sheep.

The effects of a changing climate on a population of bighorn can be mathematically predicted, as described in a recent paper recommended by Faculty of 1000 Biology members Barry Brook and Lochran Traill.

Researchers from Germany, the US, and Mexico studied a population of bighorn sheep introduced to Tiburon island, Mexico, in 1975. Here, the sheep are not at risk from disease or predators, and climate change is the only variable threat to the animals. In this new study, the researchers predicted the effect of climate change on the sheep population using a mathematical simulation. The sheep appear to be vulnerable to increased drought in the area - a side-effect of global climate change. More severe drought will eventually lead to a decrease in the sheep .

Being able to predict the effect of before it happens is of great importance to the conservation of . Brook and Traill point out that their calculations can be adapted to other species, in other regions: "The work is therefore an important contribution towards [...] the continued conservation of small populations under global change."

More information: The full text of this article is available at .

Source: Faculty of 1000: Biology and Medicine

Explore further: Global warming may bring mass species loss

Related Stories

Global warming may bring mass species loss

April 11, 2006

A study by U.S. and Canadian scientists confirms earlier dire predictions of species loss, concluding global warming could spark mass species extinctions.

A changing climate for protected areas

April 2, 2007

On April 6, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release a report entitled Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability that focuses on how climate change is affecting the planet.

Farmers can spot lame sheep, but fail to prevent footrot spread

October 14, 2008

Sheep farmers are highly able to spot even mildly lame sheep, but many do not take steps to prevent the spread of lameness in their flocks by catching and treating these animals. A study in the open access journal BMC Veterinary ...

Recommended for you

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...

ZomBee Watch helps scientists track honeybee killer

October 9, 2015

While scientists have documented cases of tiny flies infesting honeybees, causing the bees to lurch and stagger around like zombies before they die, researchers don't know the scope of the problem.

Gene editing: Research spurs debate over promise vs. ethics

October 9, 2015

The hottest tool in biology has scientists using words like revolutionary as they describe the long-term potential: wiping out certain mosquitoes that carry malaria, treating genetic diseases like sickle-cell, preventing ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.