The consequences of climate change are an increasing concern for humans around the world. But it’s not just humans who will be affected by these worldwide shifts — it’s our closest cousins, too: monkeys, apes and lemurs.
A new study published in the International Journal of Primatology shows that the world’s primate populations may be seriously impacted by climate change.
“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,” says Tanya Graham, the article’s lead author and an MSc student in the Department of Geography, Planning and Environment.
The researchers found that 419 species of primates: lemurs, lorises, tarsiers, monkeys and apes will experience more warming than the global average.
Primate species will likely experience increases of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius for every degree of global warming.
“This study highlights the vulnerability of individual species, as well as regions in which primates as a whole may be vulnerable to climate change,” says Matthews, who will present the findings of this study during the Joint Meeting of the International Primatological Society and the American Society of Primatologists in Chicago later this month.
“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,” says Graham. “Primates are often seen as flagship species for entire ecosystems, so conservation can have important ramifications for many other species too. I hope our study will help direct conservation efforts for individual primate species in particular, but also for vulnerable ecosystems in general throughout the tropical regions inhabited by non-human primates.”