Study looks at cli­mate-change adap­ta­tion

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Monte Wha­ley Cour­tesy of the Univer­sity of Colorado

They are big-eyed and adorable and may hold the key to how pri­mates can adapt to cli­mate change.

At least that’s the hope of a Univer­sity of Colorado re­search team now study­ing African bush­ba­bies, also known as gala­gos.

CU pro­fes­sor Michelle Sau­ther and CU alum­nus Frank Cuozzo are lead­ing the ex­am­i­na­tion of the bush­ba­bies at a re­mote South African field site.

Specif­i­cally, they are in­ter­ested in how the body sizes of the bush­ba­bies may af­fect their abil­ity to deal with chal­leng­ing tem­per­ate en­vi­ron­ments. The small south­ern lesser galago can fit in a hu­man’s hand while the greater thick-tailed galago is cat-sized and is much larger than its coun­ter­part.

Ac­cord­ing to Sau­ther, it’s like com­par­ing a go­rilla to a ba­boon.

While nearly all pri­mate species live in the trop­ics, th­ese bush­baby species are two of the few pri­mates that live within tem­per­ate ar­eas out­side of the trop­ics.

The re­search will fo­cus on us­ing cut­ting-edge tech­nol­ogy that in­cludes ther­mal imag­ing cam­eras that can as­sess real-time in­ter­nal tem­per­a­tures of the pri­mates who live in the tem­per­ate for­est of the La­juma Re­search Cen­tre. Sau­ther and Cuozzo were re­cently awarded a $245,000 grant from the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion for the study.

“It is ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to study noc­tur­nal pri­mates, but they are im­por­tant for un­der­stand­ing a va­ri­ety of ques­tions re­gard­ing our pri­mate evo­lu­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal change,” said Sau­ther. “So we are us­ing high-tech meth­ods for ex­pand­ing our un­der­stand­ing of th­ese pri­mates.”

Gala­gos are among the least stud­ied pri­mates and “are also of­ten in­cor­rectly viewed as hav­ing lit­tle con­ser­va­tion con­cern,” she said.

Pre­lim­i­nary data shows sev­eral hu­man-in­duced threats to th­ese pri­mates, es­pe­cially to the larger thick-tailed va­ri­ety.

“The project will pro­vide the first com­pre­hen­sive data of pop­u­la­tion num­bers, health sta­tus and life his­tory data on south­ern­most Africa’s two species of busy­baby that will al­low a more thor­ough anal­y­sis of their con­ser­va­tion sta­tus,” said Sau­ther.

In the long-term, the study will help fur­ther un­der­stand how pri­mates liv­ing out­side of tropical cli­mates ad­just to vari­able weather and cli­mate con­di­tions and events, Sau­ther said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.