• Capra ibex;
  • demographic stochasticity;
  • density-dependence;
  • environmental stochasticity;
  • ibex;
  • spatial synchrony;
  • stochastic population dynamics


Predicting the effects of the expected changes in climate on the dynamics of populations require that critical periods for climate-induced changes in population size are identified. Based on time series analyses of 26 Swiss ibex (Capra ibex) populations, we show that variation in winter climate affected the annual changes in population size of most of the populations after accounting for the effects of density dependence and demographic stochasticity. In addition, precipitation during early summer also influenced the population fluctuations. This suggests that the major influences of climate on ibex population dynamics operated either through loss of individuals during winter or early summer, or through an effect on fecundity. However, spatial covariation in these climate variables was not able to synchronize the population fluctuations of ibex over larger distances, probably due to large spatial heterogeneity in the effects of single climate variables on different populations. Such spatial variation in the influence of the same climate variable on the local population dynamics suggests that predictions of influences of climate change need to account for local differences in population dynamical responses to climatic conditions.