Tropical warming and the dynamics of endangered primates

Ruscena Wiederholt, Eric Post


Many primate species are severely threatened, but little is known about the effects of global warming and the associated intensification of El Niño events on primate populations. Here, we document the influences of the El Niño southern oscillation (ENSO) and hemispheric climatic variability on the population dynamics of four genera of ateline (neotropical, large-bodied) primates. All ateline genera experienced either an immediate or a lagged negative effect of El Niño events. ENSO events were also found to influence primate resource levels through neotropical arboreal phenology. Furthermore, frugivorous primates showed a high degree of interspecific population synchrony over large scales across Central and South America attributable to the recent trends in large-scale climate. These results highlight the role of large-scale climatic variation and trends in ateline primate population dynamics, and emphasize that global warming could pose additional threats to the persistence of multiple species of endangered primates.


    • Received August 30, 2009.
    • Accepted October 7, 2009.
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