Habitat Management |
Climate Change
Climate Changes
The existence of changes in the climate patterns, caused by men are, nowadays, a scientifically proved fact. These changes include, generally, the increase of the average global temperature, the decrease of precipitation and the increase of the incidence of extreme events, such as heat waves, intense droughts or floods.  Its effects are already being felt and the last forecasts point towards an increase of climate changes over the next years as well as an accentuation of its consequences.
Nowadays, we have tried to understand the implications of climate changes on the habitats and species, noticing that they have a greatly accentuated negative effect on environments and natural resources, which makes climate change one of the main threats to biodiversity, along with the introduction of exotic species and men's direct intervention on natural environments.
Therefore, it becomes essential to incorporate measures that contemplate the potential effect of climate changes on natural populations, in the conservation efforts.  However, most of the scientific knowledge regarding the effects of climate changes on natural populations has been obtained in a continental/regional scale and is, therefore, not very informative under the scope of conservation, which is normally processed in a more local scale.    
The impacts of climate changes vary according to geographical location.  The Baixo Alentejo plains, where the cereal steppes are abundant, are particularly exposed to events of extreme temperatures during the summer and are very vulnerable to desertification. The year 2005 was characterized by an extreme drought in the project intervention areas, and that phenomenon will possibly be repeated in the future with unpredictable consequences for the Great Bustard, Little Bustard, Lesser Kestrel, and all the other species that depend on cereal steppes.
Despite these evidences, no study has yet analysed the potential effects of climate changes on the ecology and dynamics of the populations of steppe birds, and which would be the more appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures to deal with this threat.  
The modelling and construction of different scenarios based on temporal series of climate data, habitat availability, vegetation metrics and ecology of the target species, will allow a comparative analysis and the identification of the proper management measures to implement on the feeding and reproduction areas of the target species.We also intend, during this project, to implement and test different models of drinking troughs and feeding troughs installed for the cinegetic species that might also benefit the Great Bustard and the Little Bustard during periods of lack of resources.These measures will finally be compiled in a Best Practice Manual, meant for farmers and hunt managers.