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Sci Adv. 2017 Jan 18;3(1):e1600946. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1600946. eCollection 2017 Jan.

Impending extinction crisis of the world's primates: Why primates matter.

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Institute of Biology, National Autonomous University of Mexico, CP 04510, Mexico City, Mexico.
Department of Anthropology, Program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
Conservation International, 2011 Crystal Drive, Suite 500, Arlington, VA 22202, USA.
Gene Bank of Primates and Primate Genetics Laboratory, German Primate Center, Leibniz Institute for Primate Research, Kellnerweg 4, 37077 Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
Department of Anthropology, University of Texas, Austin, TX 78705, USA.
Department of Social Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford OX3 0BP, U.K.
Abteilung Verhaltensökologie und Soziobiologie, Deutsches Primatenzentrum, Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung, Kellnerweg 4, D-37077 Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1350 Pleasant Street UCB 233, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.
Tropical Biodiversity Section, MUSE-Museo delle Scienze, Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, 38122 Trento, Italy.
Department of Anthropology, and Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution Research Centre, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, U.K.
Departments of Environmental Sciences and Environmental Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 400 Dowman Drive, Math and Science Center, Suite E510, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.
Naturhistorisches Museum Bern, Bernastrasse 15, CH-3005 Bern, Switzerland.
Department of Ecology, Federal University of Sergipe, São Cristóvão, SE 49100-000, Brazil.
Department of Zoology, Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, BA 40170-290, Brazil.
Neotropical Primate Conservation, 23 Portland Road, Manchester M32 0PH, U.K.; Asociación Neotropical Primate Conservation Perú, 1187 Avenida Belaunde, La Esperanza, Yambrasbamba, Bongará, Amazonas, Peru.
Department of Biology, Rhodes College, 2000 North Parkway, Memphis, TN 38112, USA.
Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA.
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO 63108, USA.
Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, 1810 Hinman Avenue, Evanston, IL 60208, USA.
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Zoologia, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade Federal do Paraná, C.P. 19020, Curitiba, PR 81531-990, Brazil.
School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, James Parsons Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool L3 3AF, U.K.; Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Department of Anthropology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA.
School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, University of Western Australia (M309), 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia.
Centre Suisse des Recherches Scientifiques, Université de Cocody, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
Xi'an Branch of Chinese Academy of Sciences, College of Life Sciences, Northwest University, No. 229, Taibai North Road, Xi'an 710069, China.


Nonhuman primates, our closest biological relatives, play important roles in the livelihoods, cultures, and religions of many societies and offer unique insights into human evolution, biology, behavior, and the threat of emerging diseases. They are an essential component of tropical biodiversity, contributing to forest regeneration and ecosystem health. Current information shows the existence of 504 species in 79 genera distributed in the Neotropics, mainland Africa, Madagascar, and Asia. Alarmingly, ~60% of primate species are now threatened with extinction and ~75% have declining populations. This situation is the result of escalating anthropogenic pressures on primates and their habitats-mainly global and local market demands, leading to extensive habitat loss through the expansion of industrial agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, logging, oil and gas drilling, mining, dam building, and the construction of new road networks in primate range regions. Other important drivers are increased bushmeat hunting and the illegal trade of primates as pets and primate body parts, along with emerging threats, such as climate change and anthroponotic diseases. Often, these pressures act in synergy, exacerbating primate population declines. Given that primate range regions overlap extensively with a large, and rapidly growing, human population characterized by high levels of poverty, global attention is needed immediately to reverse the looming risk of primate extinctions and to attend to local human needs in sustainable ways. Raising global scientific and public awareness of the plight of the world's primates and the costs of their loss to ecosystem health and human society is imperative.


deforestation; ecosystem health; hunting; illegal trade; industrial agriculture; nonhuman primates; primate conservation; rural livelihoods; sustainable land use; tropical forests

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