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The Australian Rat Just Became The First Mammal To Go Extinct Because of Climate Change


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It has long been trumpeted that climate change will spur mass extinctions of flora and fauna, due to both the effects of climate change and the inability of evolution (which only takes place over many generations) to keep pace. And now, scientists have confirmed that climate change has drawn its first blood.

A team from Australia has reported that a species of rat from the Land Down Under is the first mammal known to be wiped out by human-caused climate change.

The Bramble Cay melomys, a small brown rat, is unique to Bramble Cay, a hump of coral between Australia and Papua New Guinea. The report released by the team indicates that a thorough survey of the island using small animal traps, camera traps, and daytime searches from August and September 2014 failed to turn up any of the animals. And it hasn’t gone any better since.



This is warning of what is to come if we don't change our ways.

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They didn't explain how they linked this particular extinction event to climate change. I would have thought that a more objective would be the rate of extinction events, given that it seems extremely difficult at best to ascribe single events to particular causes.

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It seams to say that the main cause of the extinction was flooding, I think its a bit far to say that it was due to "climate change"



That's fair to say, no doubt they point to the fact that there is more frequent and extreme flooding events since we noticed the temperatures rising unnaturally quickly (I haven't read it though).


Just a quick/pedantic question on the title, how do they know it's the first?

Edited by dimreepr
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Relevant quotes from the actual report. The data leading to that conclusion are also presented deeper in the (quite extensive) report. However, it should be noted that it was not the actual major part of paper, which predominantly deals with the certainty that it is, in fact. extinct.

The key factor responsible for the

extirpation of this population was almost certainly ocean inundation of the low-lying cay, very likely

on multiple occasions, during the last decade, causing dramatic habitat loss and perhaps also direct

mortality of individuals. Available information about sea-level rise and the increased frequency and

intensity of weather events producing extreme high water levels and damaging storm surges in the

Torres Strait region over this period point to human-induced climate change being the root cause of

the loss of the Bramble Cay melomys.

Because exhaustive efforts have failed to record the Bramble Cay melomys at its only known location

and extensive surveys have not found it on any other Torres Strait or Great Barrier Reef island, the

assertion that Australia has lost another mammal species can be made with considerable confidence.

On this basis, the Bramble Cay melomys qualifies for listing as extinct in the wild under both state

and federal legislation. Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction

due to anthropogenic climate change.

Edited by CharonY
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