Habitat of around 9.2% of mammals in North and South America may be substantially reduced in the future due to the fact that the rate of climate change will outstrip the flight of these animals in habitable areas, climate scientists say in a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the last decade, scientists have identified cases of displacement of many animals and plants from their familiar climates to cooler due to climate change. In August 2011, British climate scientists have shown that tropical plants are moving at 17.6 km away from the equator and 12.2 meters from sea level up with each passing year.
A team led by Carrie Schloss (Carrie Schloss) at the University of Washington in Seattle (USA) tried to assess how climate change will affect the lives of about five hundred mammals living in North and South America.
To do this, Schloss and his colleagues calculated the rate of displacement of climatic zones in the two continents over the next 100 years.
The researchers used the ten most common climate models to prepare maps of climatic zones, which will exist in North and South America through the centuries. They then compared the location of the same climatic zones in the present and in the future, calculate the distance between them and have their speed by dividing the distance by 110 years.
They then calculated the rate at which mammals can explore new territory for themselves. It takes into account the size of animals, their eating habits, as well as some natural and geographical factors — the presence or absence of major rivers, high mountains or deserts, prevented migration of mammals.
After receiving the data for all 500 species of warm-blooded animals, the researchers compared the rate of migration of animals to the rate of displacement of climatic zones. It turned out that climate change is "ahead" 9.2% of mammals living in various parts of North and South America.
Animals of the Amazon, the equatorial and tropical regions of the Andes and other mountain ranges of South America, as well as mammals in polar regions most affected by climate change — the area of habitat over 50% of the species of warm-blooded creatures in these regions significantly reduced by early next century. On average, the natural habitat of each species of mammals is reduced by about one third.
According to the researchers, primates and insectivorous mammals — moles, shrews and hedgehogs — most affected by climate change compared to other animal species. In particular, the habitat of primates can be reduced by 75% in the next 100 years.
On the other hand, carnivores, artiodactyls, and surprisingly, Edentates mammals — sloths, armadillos and anteaters — are better than others adapted to the rapid shift of climatic zones. As noted climatologists habitat of these groups of mammals were not reduced, but even enlarged.
Schloss and her colleagues believe that the results of their research will help ecologists to develop optimal strategies for the conservation of species diversity of tropical animals in general and primates in particular. This is emphasized by the fact that more than a third of primates in South America have already been entered in the Red Book and the reduction of habitat can lead to disaster.