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Climate change impacts on potential future ranges of non-human primate species

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Climate change is likely to negatively affect the habitats of non-human primate species. Recent research has identified a near-linear relationship between cumulative CO2 emissions, and the resulting regional and seasonal temperature increase. Here, we use this relationship to assess the potential impact that cumulative CO2 emissions could have on the ranges available to primate species. We used data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature on ranges for 426 species and subspecies of non-human primates, combined with spatial climate data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 that represent regional and seasonal temperature changes per unit CO2 emissions. Using these data, we estimated the portion of the area of each species’ range where annual average temperatures exceed the Pre-industrial Seasonal Maximum Temperatures (PSMT), for cumulative CO2 emissions from 600 to 2000 billion tonnes of carbon. For the level of emissions corresponding to a 2 °C global temperature increase scenario, 26.1% of all ranges had temperatures in excess of their PSMTs, and for 8% of species, the entire current range was above their PSMT. This suggests the potential for considerable loss of or compromised habitat for non-human primates on a global scale, as a result of the emergence of climate conditions that are outside of the scope of historical experience for many species. Our results point to key priorities for conservation efforts, as well as the need for future research on strategies to increase the resilience of vulnerable local non-human primate populations.

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B.M.S. would like to thank Tanya Graham and Megan Joyce for their support. She would also like to thank her amazing editors and support staff, Monte and Lynne Stewart. Funding for B.M.S. was provided by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Canada Graduate Scholarships (NSERC–CGS) Alexander Graham Bell, NSERC CGS—Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements Award, Fonds de recherche du Québec—Nature et technologies (FRQNT) B1X Master’s Research Scholarship, MITACS Globalink, Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science and Concordia University. S.E.T. gratefully acknowledges funding from Concordia University and FRQNT (2019-NC-25467). H.D.M. acknowledges funding from NSERC (Discovery Grant RGPIN/4159-2017) and Concordia University’s Research Chair Program.

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Correspondence to Brogan M. Stewart.

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Stewart, B.M., Turner, S.E. & Matthews, H.D. Climate change impacts on potential future ranges of non-human primate species. Climatic Change 162, 2301–2318 (2020).

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