Oil palm plantations affect the mortality of young nemestrine macaques

PUSH survival in the first months of life represents a factor decisive in shaping the ability of species to maintain viable populations in changing environments. If it was compromised, it could actually cause it population decline and expose species to threats. In fact, according to a new study published in Contemporary Biologyfrequent visits oil palm plantations lead to a sharp increase Mortality rates among newborn nemestrine macaques (Macaca nemestrina) in nature, a species considered endangered.

For many primates, agricultural areas near tropical forests can present both opportunity and great risk. Although they offer a easy access to foodPlantations also pose a greater danger because they contribute to reduced survival of young in several species. In fact, they are not only exposed to larger ones proximity to a person but also to chemicals used in agriculture which can negatively affect youth development.

To test whether youth mortality is indeed closely linked to the presence of agricultural areas, a team of researchers from different universities decided to investigate the potential connection between frequent visits plantations oil palm trees and mortality rate youth particularly high seen in macaques in Peninsular Malaysia. In the study population in fact 57% of all children born between 2014 and 2023 is died before he was one year old, a mortality rate that far exceeds that reported in other primate populations.

The team focused on uncovering the causes of these alarming data almost ten years to study two groups of macaques that inhabited a mixed environment of rainforests and oil palm plantations. Unfortunately me suspicious they were from the team confirmed: long-term exposure plantations palm oil during the first months of life has tripled the chance of death prematurely in these monkeys.


This key finding can be attributed to both increased encounters with predators and humans, but also possible exposure to harmful chemicals such as pesticides used in agriculture. “Some of the risks are quite obvious: they are more likely to become newborn macaques the prey of wild dogs movement in packs on plantations or capture by humans e sold illegally as pets,” the researchers explain.

Unfortunately, the bad news doesn’t end there. The researchers found an increase in mortality among young people, especially when mothers gave birth for the first time or when there was a long interval between two consecutive births, which contradicts studies that report an increase in mortality when the time between two births is shorter. .

Depending on the team, it may matter from accumulation or from absorption OF pesticides in the mother’s body. “Previous studies suggest that some harmful substances used in agriculture can cross the placental barrier and are then passed on to unborn offspring. We also know that certain molecules can be fat soluble transmitted through breast milk», said Anna Holzner, lead author of the study.

These findings highlight the urgent need address anthropogenic threats and better protect animals that live near agricultural landscapes. “We know about the negative effects of pesticide use on insect populations, so chemical analysis is crucial to understanding the effects on wild mammals,” said Anja Widdigová, lead author and principal investigator of the i project.Div FlexpooL. “Our findings highlight the critical need for acceptance respecting agricultural practices that environment minimize risks for wildlife and human communities near plantations.”

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