Science

Bramble Cay Melomys Become First Mammal Wiped Out By Human-Caused Climate Change

Bramble Cay Melomys Become First Mammal Wiped Out By Human-Caused Climate Change

Bramble cay melomys are a small rodent of unknown origins as they are morphologically different from Australian melomys. They are now unfortunately extinct due to human-caused climate change. ( State of Queensland | Wikimedia Commons )

The earth just lost its first mammals to human-caused climate change. The Bramble Cay melomys were once considered common creatures, but sea level rise proved to be the species’ demise.

First Mammals Lost To Human-Caused Climate Change

Even back in 2016 when it was still just feared that Bramble Cay melomys were already extinct, it was already a dire prospect to lose the creatures to human-caused climate change. Already other species have gone extinct to the phenomenon, but losing the bramble cay melomys meant losing mammals to the fight.

It was in 2009 that a single rodent of the species was last seen by a fisherman, and back then recovery efforts were still in place in hopes of saving the species. Unfortunately, in a Feb. 20 press release by the Australian government wherein stronger protection for threatened species was recommended, one of the notable recommendations was to remove the Bramble Cay melomys from the Endangered category to the Extinct category.

Bramble Cay Melomys

In the past, Bramble Cay melomys were considered quite common, but by the end of the 20th century the species was already on the decline. By 1999, their number had dwindled down to just 93 from “hundreds” just two decades earlier. Unfortunately, despite the recovery efforts, the rodents succumbed to the effects of climate change. Specifically, the main reasons cited for the species’ extinction are sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and flooding.

The rodents happen to live on a single small reef island at the tip of the Great Barrier Reef, and in recent years this island has been battered by extreme weather events, wiping out the rodents’ food sources. Furthermore, their habitat is just three feet above sea level, so even the slightest sea-level rise greatly affected the species.

Wake-Up Call

So far, the Australian government is working on conserving the many other species that are threatened by various causes. But losing the Bramble Cay melomys serves as a grim reminder of how human-caused climate change is affecting creatures all over the world in ways that we are just beginning to see.