News of the WeekEcology

Impact of Primate Losses Estimated

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Science  18 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5384, pp. 1780-1781
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5384.1780

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A new analysis of looming primate extinctions suggests that the impact of extinctions in certain regions could be more damaging than one might expect from numbers alone, and that conservationists should pay more attention to the ecological value of species. A research team has combined data on the endangered status of primates with information on what those primates do in an ecosystem--disperse seeds, pollinate plants, or serve as prey for other animals, for example. In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they predict that in some parts of the world entire guilds of primates that perform specific and critical ecological roles will be lost, leading to deep impacts on ecosystems.