We are currently studying the impacts of drought on desert bighorn sheep, American pronghorn, Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and scaled quail, including assessments of individual- (e.g., desert bighorn sheep) and population-level (e.g., pronghorn, cutthroat trout, scaled quail) responses to drought.
Our specific objectives for desert bighorn sheep are to investigate: 1) seasonal habitat selection patterns across widely differing climatic periods to determine if desert bighorn use certain habitat features and or behavioral mechanisms to cope with extreme drought; 2) changes in diet selection across climatic periods to determine which forage species are used as buffer resources to maintain populations during droughts; and 3) nutritional intake resulting from dietary shifts across climatic periods.
Our objectives for American pronghorn are to: 1) determine how widespread the decline in American pronghorn is in the Southwest; 2) identify causal, climatic factors which best explain these declines; 3) forecast the trend and geographical extent of these causal, climatic factors over the next century based on current climate change models for the region, including downscaled climate models developed at the SW CSC; and 4) relate these climatic forecasts to pronghorn population trends over future decades.
Our objectives for Rio Grande cutthroat trout are to monitor stream flow to identify periods of stream intermittency associated with drought conditions and model the relationship between habitat availability with landscape data to predict the relationship between stream flow and habitat availability.
The objectives for scaled quail are to study climate effects (temperature, humidity, and precipitation) preceding, during and following the nesting season with a primary focus on how these climate variables affect nest success.