Island sheep focus of climate-change study

Scientists say they’re studying bighorn sheep on an island off the coast of Mexico to determine the effects of climate change on endangered species.

The sheep, brought to Tiburon Island in 1975, are not at risk from disease or predators, said Barry Brook, a researcher with Faculty of 1000, a London-based cooperative of international scientists.

Climate change is the only variable threat to the sheep, making them good subjects for a mathematical model aimed at predicting the effects of such change, Brook and fellow researchers from Germany, the United States and Mexico said. One part of the model simulates the effect of increased drought on the sheep’s population, drought being a side-effect of climate change.

Because the calculations can be adapted to other species, the study should aid in the conservation of small populations of animals elsewhere on the planet, Brook said.

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