Dr Carvalho continued: “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.”
Professor Hjalmar Kuehl, senior author of the study and primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, said: “Climate-change mitigation measures have not yet been systematically included into on-site management and strategic development of primate conservation.
“Given the timescale on which climate change and 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.”
The study also suggests 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 conclude that “urgent action” is required – in relation to the implementation of climate-change mitigation measures – to avert primate extinctions on an unprecedented scale.
The study also involved Professor Bruce Graham, University of Stirling; Dr Gaëlle Bocksberger, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology; Dr Christoph Meyer, University of Salford; Professor Serge Wich, Liverpool John Moores University; and Hugo Rebelo, Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetics Resources in Portugal.
The research paper, A global risk assessment of primates under climate and land use/cover scenarios, is published in the journal Global Change Biology.