Category Archives: Australia

First Mammal Made Extinct by Manmade Climate Change

YWQ4NzExMzNjNyMvbExMbWZqTEg5NUxOckZBUFdTaldMTDE1c1prPS8weDM6OTAweDQ0OC85MDB4NDQ2L2ZpbHRlcnM6cXVhbGl0eSg3MCkvaHR0cDovL3MzLmFtYXpvbmF3cy5jb20vcG9saWN5bWljLWltYWdlcy92d3JhZ2FsZ2psbndwcDRmY29zMGN5cDZwb2FlZ2d6dmRmdHRyN29ocSource: Queensland Government

Queensland, Australia environmental researchers reported that the Bramble Cay melomys, a rodent species found on a small island in the eastern Torres Strait, appears to have been completely eradicated from its only known habitat. Also called the mosaic-tailed rat, this tiny creature marks the first mammal that has disappeared due to human-caused climate change, though experts warn it will likely be the first of many: a 2015 report noted that ⅙ of the world’s species are in danger of climate change-based extinction.

This melomys was the only mammal species native to the Great Barrier Reef, and in 1845 European sailors first noticed the rats living in high density around Bramble Cay, a small coral cay on Queensland’s north coast. The island is a significant wildlife hotspot, and remains the most important breeding ground for green turtles and several seabirds within the Torres Strait.

In 1978 the melomys population was estimated at several hundred, though they were last seen in 2009, leading to an extensive 2014 search for the creature. Since then, a report led by Ian Gynther from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, in partnership with the University of Queensland, has recommended the species be labelled extinct.

As part of their search, researchers laid 150 traps on the island over six nights, and thoroughly examined the vegetation they typically inhabit for signs of life. After no evidence that any Bramble Cay melomys’ remained, the report’s authors concluded that extensive flooding due to rising sea levels was the “root cause” of the extinction, killing many animals and destroying 97% of their habitat from 2004 to 2014. Around the Torres Strait, sea levels have risen at twice the global average between 1993 and 2014. “For low-lying islands like Bramble Cay, the destructive effects of extreme water levels resulting from severe meteorological events are compounded by the impacts from anthropogenic climate change-driven sea-level rise…Significantly, this probably represents the first recorded mammalian extinction due to anthropogenic climate change,” the authors noted.

The Queensland government website suggests that attempts to restore the population are futile. “Because the Bramble Cay melomys is now confirmed to have been lost from Bramble Cay, no recovery actions for this population can be implemented,” it says. However, the report’s authors hold out hope that there might be an undiscovered population of the creatures in Papua New Guinea. They posit that several melomys may have initially arrived at Bramble Cay by floating over on debris from the Fly River region of New Guinea. Thus, the authors recommend surveying Papua New Guinea to see if the rodents or their close relatives could be living there.

Ecologist John White of Australia’s Deakin University said this extinction marks the beginning of a long battle for wildlife conservationists: “I am of absolutely no doubt we will lose species due to the increasing pressures being exerted by climate change,” he said. “Species restricted to small, low lying islands, or those with very tight environmental requirements are likely to be the first to go…Certainly, extinction and climatic change has gone hand in hand throughout the history of the world,” he said. “So, if this is one of the first, it is more than likely not going to be the last.”

3d653a26-0746-4ed6-8347-abc2db35753e-1920-1080Source: CAMERON DEJONG/FLICKR/CC2.0

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Wildlife Conservation Film Festival

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Come to New York, NY October 13-19 for a week of extraordinary films, workshops, international filmmakers, red carpet gala and to meet some of the world’s leading wildlife conservationists. Included are dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. Patricia C. Wright, Dr. Birute Galdikas, Nan Hauser, Dr. Mireya Mayor. More than 15 international wildlife documentary filmmakers and from National Geographic filmmakers, Bob Poole and David Hamlin


Elephants in the Room
produced by Peter Lamberti of Aquavision TV Productions in South Africa
will make its New York debut at the 2014 WCFF

Great Migrations: Episode 3: Survival of the Fastest NGC-US: Episode Code: 3592 NGCI: IBMS - 023560

Zebras On The Move
Produced by Oscar Portillo of Explora Films in Spain
will also make its New York debut

Get your tickets now for all 18 film series held at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway during the week and the Red Carpet Gala & Awards Ceremony at 583 Park Avenue

Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
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Tree-hugging keeps Koalas cool


Tree-hugging helps koalas beat Australia’s heat, research has found. By spreading their bodies out over lower branches koalas are able to absorb the cooler temperatures that occur inside trees and reduce their core temperature. This not only makes them more comfortable but also increases their chances of surviving the intense heatwaves that take place in Australia. Unlike other animals, koalas do not use hollows or dens for shelter but rather spend their time exposed to the sun.

“They’re just stuck out on the tree all the time so when hot weather comes they’re completely exposed to it,” Dr Michael Kearney from the University of Melbourne’s zoology department told Guardian Australia. “When a heatwave comes the most effective way for the koala to lose heat is through evaporation. They don’t sweat but they can pant and lick their fur.” However, in times of intense heat and low rainfall, koalas cannot maintain the evaporation rates needed and have to seek other ways to remain cool.

The scientists studied around 30 koalas on French Island, near Melbourne. At times of extreme heat they witnessed them lying flat out along the branches, which is an unusual stance for them.


Thermal image of a koala hugging the cool lower limb of a tree, illustrating a posture typically observed during hot weather

“I sort of see it as, ‘Oh I’m so hot, I’m going to lie down’, but there’s more reason to it than that,” said Kearney, a co-author of the report. “The fur on their tummy is quite a lot thinner than the fur on their backs, so they’re pushing that fur and that part of their body as much against the tree as possible. “Any way that they can lose heat that doesn’t involve losing water is going to be a huge advantage to them. Dumping heat into the tree is one of those methods.”

The team fitted radio collars to the bears so they could track them during the day in both winter (June–August 2009) and summer (December–March 2010 and 2011). They then used thermal imaging technology to confirm and further examine their observations.


 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Inc.
Christopher J. Gervais, Founder & CEO
LinkedIn: Wildlife Conservation Film Festival
Twitter: @WCFF_org