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Talking About Climate Change - Primates Vs Humans

A group of researchers from Bangor University have recently finished a study researching the effects of climate change on primates.

Dr. Isabelle Winder who teaches the Zoology and Primatology degree at Bangor is one of the researchers and says that Climate Change is a real issue facing the natural world. She said,

“Humans are having a massive impact on the natural world. We are the dominant force effecting our planet. We tend to think of some animals as being very resilient, very able to adapt to the things that humans do to their environment. Many primates come into that category and we would have thought that baboons would be one of these species that would be fine. My students and I decided to find out because they seemed like a really interesting case study. If it’s so hard to predict the effects of climate change, maybe we start with something that we think is going to be fine and see what happens. So we did some work to model the effects of climate change on six different species of baboon and what we found was that there are different effects depending on the species.” 

Under Isabelle’s supervision, Sarah Hill completed the new research as part of her MZool Masters degree in Zoology with Animal Behaviour. Sarah assessed where these baboons could live given twelve different climate change projections of conditions for each type of baboon. Three of the six baboon species were found to be at risk.

Sarah explained more about their findings:

“We looked at 2.6 degrees and 6 degrees of warming, under wetter and drier conditions and what we found was quite surprising.  The Chacma or mountain baboons of South Africa were at risk no matter what climate change projections we ran- their population numbers will drop as they lose around 25% of their range. The Guinea baboon is at particular risk if climate changes brings aridification, and the Kinda baboon will not do especially well under any future climate scenario but is especially threatened if the weather becomes warmer and wetter. Two species might expand and one species did not seem to be affected by climate change.”

Doing a focused Masters project (on primates or on other species vulnerable to human-driven environmental change) is just one of many opportunities to study the effects of Climate Change as part of your studies in Biology, Zoology and Environmental sciences degrees at Bangor.

Dr. Isabelle Winder believes it’s an important topic for students to engage with. She added,

“People coming through the education system today are just beginning to be able to do something about Climate Change. We’re just beginning to develop the science, the social science, the economic ideas and the political ideas to be able to do something about it at the local level up to the global level so I think that’s a really important reason why people should get more engaged. We’re actually at a stage where we can start to do something as individuals and as a collective…now!”

Watch the full video of Dr. Isabelle Winder Talking About Climate Change (Primates Vs Humans) 

Bangor’s Primatology research group can also be found on Twitter.

Publication date: 15 November 2019

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