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4/17/2007

Climate change could trigger 'boom and bust' population cycles leading to extinction

April 16, 2007
Climate change could trigger "boom and bust" population cycles that make animal species more vulnerable to extinction. , according to Christopher C. Wilmers, an assistant professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Favorable environmental conditions that produce abundant supplies of food and stimulate population booms appear to set the stage for population crashes that occur when several "good years" in a row are followed by a bad year. "It's almost paradoxical, because you'd think a large population would be better off, but it turns out they're more vulnerable to a drop in resources," says Wilmers.
Understanding how environmental changes influence fluctuations in animal populations is crucial to predicting and mitigating the influence of global climate change. In a paper that appears in the May issue of The American Naturalist, Wilmers describes a powerful new mathematical model that evaluates how climate and resources interact with populations, including a fine-grained analysis of impacts on juveniles, reproducing adults, and adults.
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