Climate change bad for African antelopes

2016-04-28 22:03

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Miami - Climate change could put certain species of African antelopes at risk of extinction, particularly those with the smallest geographic ranges, says a study released on Thursday.

Antelopes are already a subject of concern. One-third of the world's 87 species are listed as threatened, said the findings in the April 28 edition of the journal Current Biology.

In the future, global warming will "cause a disproportionate decline in African antelopes with the smallest geographic ranges, placing the most-threatened taxa in 'double jeopardy,'" said the study.

Those at highest risk are the kinds that prefer cooler, drier climates, researchers said.

Using climate models to predict conditions under various emissions scenarios by 2080, researchers predicted that 82% of African antelope species would see a decline in suitable habitat.

About one in four would see their range size cut in half due to conditions such as heavy rain and severe heat.

The threat status of 10 species was predicted to worsen as a direct result of climate change.

"The study clearly shows that several antelope species are in need of urgent conservation action to avoid extinction," says Jakob Bro-Jorgensen of University of Liverpool.

Species that are found only in very restricted areas "are usually more demanding in the combination of temperature and rainfall conditions they require, and therefore suitable areas are more likely to disappear when temperature and rainfall do not change together," Bro-Jorgensen says.

Climate change is not expected to improve the threat status on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List for any African antelopes.

"Our study shows that climate change is likely to hit wildlife even harder than we thought because the species already threatened stand to lose a higher proportion of their range," Bro-Jorgensen said.

A disaster for antelopes could be averted if more conservation-friendly land use plans are adopted, he added.

Read more on:    animals  |  climate change

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