MONKEYS in South America could face extinction due to climate change, Scottish scientists have warned.

The research, involving an international team of scientists led by Stirling University, found that a large percentage of species of monkeys, lemurs and apes are facing substantial temperature increases and marked habitat changes over the next 30 years.

The team, led by Dr Joana Carvalho of Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences, said that New World monkeys – which live primarily in tropical South America – will be particularly affected.

Dr Carvalho said: “Based on our analysis, it is clear that New World monkeys in particular can be considered highly vulnerable to projected temperature increases, consequently facing an elevated risk of extinction.”

The study looked at all 426 species of non-human primates contained within the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List “at risk” database and examined their exposure to changes in conditions forecast for the year 2050.

The team identified key regions where future conditions will be particularly bleak for species, with New World monkeys exposed to extreme levels of warming.

They said that 86% of Neotropical primate ranges will experience maximum temperature increases of greater than 3°C, while extreme warming – of more than 4°C – is likely to affect 41% of their ranges, including many areas that presently harbour the

highest number of primate species.

Dr Carvalho added: “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


In their research paper, the authors conclude that a quarter of Asian and African primates will face up to 50% agricultural crop expansion and “urgent action” is required in implementing climate-change mitigation measures to avert primate extinctions on an unprecedented scale.