Brogan Stewart

Student Speaker | Étudiant.e
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. We use this relationship to assess the potential impact that cumulative CO2 emissions could have on the range areas available to primate species. We used data from the IUCN on range areas for 426 species and subspecies of non-human primates, combined with spatial climate data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5) that represents temperature changes per unit CO2 emissions. Using these data, we estimated the portions of each species’ range area where annual-average temperatures exceed the pre-industrial seasonal maximum temperatures (PSMT), for cumulative CO2 emissions from 0.6 – 2.0 teratonnes of carbon. For the level of emissions corresponding to a 2°C global temperature increase scenario, 26.1% of all habitat ranges had temperatures in excess of their PSMTs, and for 8% of species, the entire current habitat was above their PSMT. As cumulative CO2 emissions increase (0.6TtC to 2.0TtC), the percentage of primate habitat with temperatures above the PSMT, increases from 10% to 64%. This suggests 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 the range of historical experience. Our results point to priority areas for conservation efforts, and the need for future research on strategies to increase the resilience of vulnerable local non-human primate populations.