Predicting the future impact of droughts on ungulate populations in arid and semi-arid environments
In light of the current global extinction crisis, understanding how and where drivers of population decline will take effect has never been more important. Climate change is expected to be a major driver of species extinctions in the 21st century. Average changes in greenhouse gas concentrations are expected to produce directional changes in climatic conditions, and increase the level of inter-annual variability in these conditions. Droughts are a significant component of such climatic variability, and can have a devastating impact on animal populations. Through processes such as recurrent reductions in population numbers and the consequent genetic effects caused by demographic bottlenecks, droughts have the potential to lead populations, and entire species, to extinction.