The effects of deforestation and climate change are increasingly deadly for both plant and animal species, as they have been threatened by the transformation of their habitats. Deforestation is perhaps one of the main causes of this change.
The research, published in the journal PNAS on Monday, warned that this change could put tree-dwelling species at greater risk due to a lack of their preferred food and shelter on the ground.
Scientists, including those at the nonprofit San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance (SDZWA) in the US, said these primates may experience more negative interaction with humans and domestic animals as the world warms. heats up and they may experience a change in their eating habits.
In the study, an international team of scientists evaluated more than 150,000 hours of observational data from 15 lemur species and 32 monkey species at 68 sites in the Americas and Madagascar.
The researchers estimated the influence of various factors, including potential ecological and human-induced pressures, as well as species-specific traits, on the time these arboreal primates spend on the ground.
Eppley said the study began after a discussion about changes they had noticed in some species of arboreal primates. Well, in several observations, scientists realized that they now spend much more time on the ground. However, they did not understand the reason for this change.
“We saw that at sites with relatively less disturbance, members of the same species may never go down,” Eppley added. His team, which included 118 co-authors from 124 institutions, estimated the influence of ecological drivers, including possible human-induced pressures or species-specific traits of arboreal primates, at the terrestrial level, which is the time they spend in soil.
“We found that primates that consume less fruit and live in large social groups are more likely to descend to the ground. These traits act as a potential “pre-adaptation” to the earthly,” Eppley added in research results published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Among the researchers’ other findings is that those primates who lived in warmer environments and with less tree cover (that is the roof formed by the treetops of a forest) were more likely to adapt to these changes.
Research suggests that if the ravages of climate change continue, tree habitats are likely to decline. “For this reason, primates that consume a more generalized diet and live in larger groups can more easily adapt to a terrestrial lifestyle,” the scientists warn in the text.
Luca Santini, Ph.D. of the Sapienza University of Rome and lead author of the study, explained that primate populations closer to human infrastructure are less likely to descend to the ground. “This finding may suggest that human presence, which is often a threat to primates, may interfere with the species’ natural adaptability to global change,” he added.
Giuseppe Donati, PhD of the University of Oxford and author of the research, added that “although ecological conditions and species-like traits may have influenced previous evolutionary shifts in arboreal primates, including hominins, to life on land, it is clear that the current rate of deforestation and climate change is endangering most primate species.”
“This is an extraordinary effort to bring together 118 authors and review data of this magnitude. It is also a tremendous example of the insights that can be gained and the advances that can be made when looking at conservation on a global scale,” Nadine Lamberski, SDZWA Chief Conservation and Wildlife Health Officer said.
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