Monkeys facing extinction threat due to climate change, claims study

Washington: There are several animals that are at the risk of extinction because of climate change, and monkeys living in South America are among these.

According to researchers, a substantial temperature increase may lead to monkeys’ extinction.

The study published in the journal of Global Change Biology found that a large percentage of non-human primates including monkeys, lemurs, and apes are facing substantial temperature increases and marked habitat changes over the next 30 years.

The research, led by Dr Joana Carvalho said that new world monkeys which live primarily in tropical South America will be particularly affected.

“Based on our analysis, it is clear that new world monkeys, in particular, can be considered highly vulnerable to projected temperature increases, consequently facing an elevated risk of extinction,” said Dr Carvalho.

The study examined all 426 species of non-human primates contained within the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List database and examined their exposure risk to changes in climatic and land use conditions forecast for the year 2050. The authors considered the best-case scenario slowly declining emissions, with appropriate mitigation measures put in place and the worst-case scenario, assuming that emissions continue to increase unchecked.

Researchers identified key regions where future conditions will be particularly bleak for species with New World monkeys exposed to extreme levels of warming. They said that 86 percent of Neotropical primate ranges will experience maximum temperature increases of greater than three degrees Celcius, while extreme warming of more than four degrees Celcius is likely to affect 41 percent of their ranges, including many areas that presently harbor the highest number of primate species.

“Studies that quantify what magnitudes of warming primates are able to tolerate physiologically are lacking. However, we have reason to believe that extreme temperature increases — as those predicted based on the low mitigation scenario would most likely surpass the thermal tolerance of many species,” continued Dr. Carvalho.

“Climate-change mitigation measures have not yet been systematically included in on-site management and strategic development of primate conservation. Given the timescale on which climate change and the resulting impact on primate populations will occur, efforts for integrating climate change mitigation measures need to be enhanced urgently in order to be able to develop and implement appropriate actions,” said Professor Hjalmar Kuehl, senior author of the study.

The study also suggested that anticipated changes in how humans use the land and alter existing primate habitats will exacerbate the negative effects on primate populations brought about by global warming.

According to the authors, about one-quarter of Asian and African primates will face up to 50 percent agricultural crop expansion within their range, while undisturbed habitat is expected to disappear nearly entirely across species’ ranges and will be replaced by some form of human-disturbed habitat.

The authors concluded that “urgent action” is required in relation to the implementation of climate-change mitigation measures to avert primate extinctions on an unprecedented scale.


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