Recalculating route: dispersal constraints will drive the redistribution of Amazon primates in the Anthropocene

Dr Lilian Sales1, Bruno Ribeiro2, Mathias Pires1, Colin Chapman3, Rafael Loyola2

1University of Campinas, Campinas, Brazil, 2Federal University of Goiás, , Brazil, 3McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Climate change will redistribute the global biodiversity in the Anthropocene. As the climate changes, species might move from one place to another, to stay within preferred environments. However, the existence of permeable migratory routes precludes faunal migrations across natural and anthropic landscape barriers.

In this work, we investigated how dispersal will affect the outcome of climate change on Amazon primate species distribution. We modeled the distribution of 88 Amazon primate species, using ecological niche models calibrated with climate data, and projected their expected ranges on different scenarios of climate change. Then, we imposed a series of landscape restrictions to primate dispersal, derived from a natural biogeographical barrier to Amazon primates (the main tributaries of the Amazon river) and an anthropic constraint to the migration of many canopy-dependent animals (deforested areas). We also highlighted potential conflict zones, i.e. regions of high migration potential but predicted to be deforested.

Species response to climate change greatly varied across scenarios. However, dispersal seemed to define whether most species will lose or expand their geographical distributions.

Dispersal across fragmented landscapes, therefore, might buffer local populations from exposure to non-analog climates. The effect of climate change on the distribution of Amazon primates will ultimately depend on whether landscape permeability will allow climate-driven faunal migrations. The network of protected areas in the Amazon could work as stepping stones, but most are outside important migratory routes. This has straightforward implications for future conservation of Amazon biodiversity in face of climate change and the deforestation prospects.


I am a biologist with a PhD in Ecology & Evolution. In my research, I use mathematical models to understand the drivers of species distribution at landscape, regional and global scales. Currently, my main goal is to understand the redistribution of biodiversity in the Anthropocene.

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