Climate Change Not the Only Threat to Vulnerable Species, Habitat Matters

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Science Daily published an article highlighting a recent publication on habitat loss threatening endangered species, led by Toni Lyn Morelli at the Northeast CASC.

Check out the original article from Science Daily, here

Species around the world are facing habitat degradation resulting from overharvesting, overhunting, invasive species, and pollution, in addition to climate change. A new paper appearing in the current issue of Nature Climate Change details the severe impacts of deforestation and climate change in Madagascar, a biodiversity hotspot and habitat to two critically endangered species of ruffed lemur found nowhere else in the world. These lemurs are indicators of overall rainforest health and play a critical role in seed dispersal across the ecosystem.  

To understand threats facing the rainforest habitats of Madagascar, Toni Lyn Morelli, a Research Ecologist with the Northeast CASC, and her international team of co-authors combined 88 years of data to model the effects of deforestation and climate change on ruffed lemurs over the next century. They predict that the rainforest habitat which supports these lemurs could be almost entirely lost before the year 2080. 

"Maintaining and enhancing the integrity of protected areas, where rates of forest loss are lower, will be essential for ensuring persistence of the diversity of the rapidly-diminishing Malagasy rainforests," says Morelli. 

This study was funded in part by the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center. 

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A black and white ruffed lemur perched on a tree branch.

Black and white ruffed lemur of the genus Varecia. Credit: Mathias Appel (public domain)