2016-06-14. Australian Rodent Is First Mammal Made Extinct by Human-Driven Climate Change, Scientists Say.

posted Jun 18, 2016, 4:55 PM by Alan Gould   [ updated Jun 18, 2016, 4:56 PM ]
By Michelle Innis, The New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 8 and Losing Biodiversity chapter 8. Excerpt: SYDNEY, Australia — Australian researchers say rising sea levels have wiped out a rodent that lived on a tiny outcrop in the Great Barrier Reef, in what they say is the first documented extinction of a mammal species due to human-caused climate change. ...The long-tailed, whiskered creature, called the Bramble Cay melomys, was considered the only mammal endemic to the Great Barrier Reef. “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,” Luke Leung, a scientist from the University of Queensland who was an author of a report on the species’ apparent disappearance, said by telephone. “The seawater has destroyed the animal’s habitat and food source. This is the first documented extinction of a mammal because of climate change,” he said. ...Accounts of the melomys’s presence on Bramble Cay date to 1845, when European sailors encountered what they described as large rats (and tried to kill them with bows and arrows). Researchers found hundreds of the creatures on the island during the 1970s. But within a few decades, their numbers had fallen drastically, with just 10 melomys captured during a 2002 survey and 12 in 2004. None at all were caught during a 2011 survey, but that expedition was cut short for fear of damaging green-turtle nests....  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/15/world/australia/climate-change-bramble-cay-rodent.html