Climate change is likely to pose a huge challenge to the survival of the world’s primate populations, including monkeys, apes and lemurs, especially in Central America, the Amazon and southeastern Brazil, as well as portions of East and Southeast Asia, says a study.
“Our research shows that climate change may be one of the biggest emerging threats to primates, compounding existing pressures from deforestation, hunting and the exotic pet trade,” said lead author Tanya Graham from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
The researchers assessed the exposure and potential vulnerability of all non-human primate species to projected future temperature and precipitation changes.
They found that overall, 419 species of non-human primates — such as various species of lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes — will experience 10 per cent more warming than the global average, with some primate species experiencing increases of more than 1.5 degrees celsius in annual average temperature for every degree of global warming.
The researchers also identified several hotspots of primate vulnerability to climate change, based on the combination of the number of species, their endangered status and the severity of climate changes at each location.
Overall, the most extreme hotspots, which represent the upper 10 per cent of all hotspot scores, cover a total area of 3,622,012 square kilometres over the ranges of 67 primate species.
The highest hotspot scores occur in Central America, the Amazon and southeastern Brazil, as well as portions of East and Southeast Asia — prime territory for some of the globe’s best-known primates who call these areas home, showed the findings published in the International Journal of Primatology.
“Our findings can be taken as priorities for ongoing conservation efforts, given that any success in decreasing other current human pressures on endangered species may also increase that species’ ability to withstand the growing pressures of climate changes,” Graham said.