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Keywords:

  • altitudinal distribution;
  • extinction risk;
  • gelada baboon;
  • montane grasslands;
  • species survival;
  • systems model

Abstract

The gelada baboon is a graminivorous primate whose ecology is unusually sensitive to ambient temperature. A systems model of the socio-ecology of the gelada is used to predict the impact of global warming on the species’ altitudinal distribution. The species’ lower altitudinal limit will rise by ≈ 500 m for every 2 °C increase in global mean temperature. A 7 °C rise in temperature would be sufficient to result in the species being confined to a small number of isolated mountain peaks, where its chances of survival will be greatly reduced. Changes in local climate are also likely to have significant effects on agricultural practice on the Ethiopian highlands, and this in turn is likely to have repercussions for the distribution patterns of the gelada by further constraining the habitat available to them.