Tags: bramble cay | melomys | extinct | climate | change

Bramble Cay Melomys Extinct, Climate Change Takes First Life?

Image: Bramble Cay Melomys Extinct, Climate Change Takes First Life?
 (Ian Bell/Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection)

By    |   Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 07:13 AM

The Bramble Cay melomys is extinct because of climate change, claim researchers in Australia, making rats the first to abandon what some think is a sinking planet.

The small rodent known only to live on Bramble Cay, "is the first mammal to go extinct due to human-induced climate change," researchers at the University of Queensland and Queensland Government said in a news release.

“A thorough survey effort involving 900 small animal trap-nights, 60 camera trap-nights and two hours of active daytime searches produced no records of the species, confirming that the only known population of this rodent is now extinct," said Luke Leung of the University of Queensland.

The extensive survey was a follow-up to a smaller survey in March 2014 that failed to detect the species. The last known Bramble Cay melomys sighting on the Great Barrier Reef outcrop was in late 2009.

Rising sea levels and intense weather events on the cay, which sits about 10 feet above sea level, are believed to be the cause of the extinction.

“The seawater has destroyed the animal’s habitat and food source,” Leung told The New York Times.

Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, called the report significant, saying it "illustrates how the human-caused extinction process works in real time.”

“On land, we’re seeing the same thing, except rather than water barriers, the barriers are the 51 percent of the Earth’s land surface that has been taken over by people,” he told the Times.

Th Bramble Cay melomys, also known as the mosaic-tailed rat, was first seen on Bramble Cay in 1845 and several hundred were documented there in 1978, National Geographic reported.

Sea levels around the world rose about 8 inches between 1901 and 2010, National Geographic said, adding that many animals face extinction because of it.

"We knew something had to be first, but this is still stunning news," Lee Hannah, a senior scientist for climate change biology with Conservation International, told National Geographic.

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The Bramble Cay melomys is extinct because of climate change, claim researchers in Australia, making rats the first to abandon what some think is a sinking planet.
bramble cay, melomys, extinct, climate, change
332
2016-13-16
Thursday, 16 Jun 2016 07:13 AM
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