Sloth metabolism may make survival untenable under climate change scenarios

Sloth metabolism may make survival untenable under climate change scenarios

Here we observe how the metabolic responses of two-fingered sloths originating from high and low altitude locations differ profoundly at high temperatures. This leads into important speculation as to what might be the consequences of climate change for these animals. Accordingly, we use the data on sloth metabolic rate as a function of temperature to predict the impact of future climate change-associated warming on the body temperature and metabolic rate of the different sloth populations.

Based on climate change estimates for the year 2100, we predict that high-altitude sloths are likely to experience a substantial increase in metabolic rate which, due to their intrinsic energy processing limitations and restricted geographical plasticity, may make their survival untenable in a warming climate.