Understanding how biodiversity will respond to climate change is a major challenge in conservation science. Climatic changes are likely to impose serious threats to many organisms, especially those with narrow distribution ranges, small populations and low dispersal capacity. Lion tamarins (Leontopithecus spp.) are endangered primates endemic to Brazilian Atlantic Forest (BAF), and all four living species are typical examples of these aggravating conditions. Here, we integrate ecological niche modeling and GIS-based information about BAF remnants and protected areas to estimate the exposure (i.e., the extent of climate change predicted to be experienced by a species) of current suitable habitats to climate change for 2050 and 2080, and to evaluate the efficacy of existing reserves to protect climatically suitable areas. Niche models were built using Maxent and then projected onto seven global circulation models derived from the A1B climatic scenario. According to our projections, the occurrence area of L. caissara will be little exposed to climate change. Western populations of L. chrysomelas could be potentially exposed, while climatically suitable habitats will be maintained only in part of the eastern region. Protected areas that presently harbor large populations of L. chrysopygus and L. rosalia will not retain climatic suitability by 2080. Monitoring trends of exposed populations and protecting areas predicted to hold suitable conditions should be prioritized. Given the potential exposure of key lion tamarin populations, we stress the importance of conducting additional studies to assess other aspects of their vulnerability (i.e., sensitivity to climate and adaptive capacity) and, therefore, to provide a more solid framework for future management decisions in the context of climate change.
Keywords: AIC; Brazilian Atlantic Forest; Callitrichidae; maxent; model uncertainty; niche modeling.
© 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.