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  • The coast-dwelling Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal to disappear as a result of climate change.

    The coast-dwelling Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal to disappear as a result of climate change. | Photo: @UQ_News

Published 21 February 2019

The Bramble cay experienced continuous inundation, causing sea levels and water temperatures to threaten animal life in the region.

The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal to disappear as a result of climate change, according to the Commonwealth of Australia, which has officially labelled the animal as extinct. The small rodent was moved from the endangered list to the extinct list earlier this week by the country's environment minister.

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Originally considered extinct in 2016 by the state, it was not until Monday that the Commonwealth agreed after conducting further investigation. 

The Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea, where the Bramble Cay melomys inhabited, has attracted serious concern among locals, researchers, and government organizations in Queensland and Australia.

Indigenous people in the region have faced "disproportionate climate change vulnerability," an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, including high temperatures, natural disasters, increased disease and economic consequences, determined. 

The cay has experienced continuous inundation, causing sea levels and water temperatures to threaten animal life in the region. The melomys' disappearance is attributed to both dramatic habitat loss as well as being washed into the sea. Though a recovery plan was eventually in the works, it was not implemented in time to save the mammal from extinction. 

The event marks another example of Australia's battle with the effects of climate change. January was the country's hottest month on record, with rainfall below average except in parts of coastal Queensland, which experienced flooding late in the month.

The Bureau of Meteorology released a Special Climate Statement discussing the unusually long periods of heatwaves that began last year and extended through the month of January. Researchers at the University of Queensland have concluded that manmade climate change is the "root cause of the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys," along with widespread losses in the Great Barrier Reef, and other "radical shifts in the condition and dynamics of all ecosystems."

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