Wednesday, 15 June 2016

First mammal species driven to extinction by climate change

JUNE 15, 2016

by Chuck Bednar

An isolated rodent that lived on a single island located off the coast of Australia has become the first mammal to become extinct as a direct result of global climate change, a team of researchers from the University of Queensland have confirmed in a report released this week.

In their new study, researchers at the university and colleagues from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection jointly reported that Bramble Cay melomys (Melomys rubicola) had indeed vanished from their home in the eastern Torres Strait of the Great Barrier Reef, making it the first mammalian species to succumb to the Earth’s warming climate.

According to National Geographic, the melomys had last been spotted by a fisherman back in 2009, and failed attempts to trap one five years later proved unsuccessful, prompting speculation among scientists that the creature had become extinct. The long-tailed, whiskered rodent, which was the only mammal endemic to the Great Barrier Reef, was purportedly wiped out because of rising sea levels linked to manmade climate change, the New York Times added.

“The key factor responsible for the death of the Bramble Cay melomys is almost certainly high tides and surging seawater, which has traveled inland across the island,” Queensland researcher and study co-author Luke Leung told the newspaper via telephone. “The seawater has destroyed the animal’s habitat and food source.”

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