First mammal species wiped out by global warming

I recently heard of very bad news.

A mammal species (Bramble Cay melomys, Melomys rubicola) discovered in 1845, which was the only one to be endemic to Great Barrier Reef, has been wiped out… because of human-induced climate change.

It was estimated there were several hundred on the small island of Bramble Cay, an uninhabited one which belongs to the Torres Strait Islands. These islands are a group of 274+ small islands located in the waterway separating far northern continental Australia’s Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea.

The species used to live in a 3.62-hectare (8.9-acre) sand cay which is predominately grassland and populated by seabirds and green turtles.

Since 2007 it was not seen, despite a search by a team of scientists. A report has recommended the animal’s status be changed from “endangered” to “extinct” in 2014. An extensive search has then been conducted without success.

In their report, Natalie Waller and Luke Leung from the University of Queensland, recently concluded that the root cause of the extinction was sea-level rise and extreme climate events.

« According to our predictions, 10,000 island will be under water by the end of the century. »

– Franck Courchamp, CNRS Senior researcher

Picture credits: Bramble Cay melomys by State of Queensland