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Australian Marsupials That Die After Sex Are Now Endangered, And Humans Share The Blame

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Some Australian marsupials are becoming endangered. Oddly enough, dying after reproducing is not the main reason for their dwindling numbers - it is climate change.

Two Marsupial Species Added To Endangered List

Two species of the genus Antechinus recently made their way into the official endangered list. There are currently 15 species of antechinus in Australia, with the silver-headed and black-tailed dusky antechinus having only been discovered in 2013 by Dr Andrew Baker and his team.

"It is pretty rare to uncover new mammals in developed countries such as Australia," he said.

Like other species in the same genus, the two endangered species are known for their short and violent breeding seasons. Each year, the males copulate for up to 14 hours, causing injuries, organ failure, and exhaustion that then lead to their death.

This mating habit called suicidal reproduction, which is not unique to the antechinus, result in a huge chunk of the population dying off after mating season. Although this is a factor of their decreased numbers, the culprit to the extinction of two species is not of their own doing.

Threats To The Survival Of The Marsupials

The biggest threat to the marsupials might be man-made: climate change. The reduced habitat and risks that are accompanied by climate change are driving the two species to extinction.

The warmer climate likely pushed them to retreat to the misty mountain summits, where they were discovered by Dr Baker. He noted that there is nowhere left for them to go, but the misty summits are not the best place for them to survive.

The mammals are constantly facing threats to the continuation of their species, including wildfires, predators, and habitat disturbance due to feral pigs and cattle. No plans for the recovery of the species' numbers are in place at the moment, but officially making it to the list of endangered animals should raise awareness of the silver-headed and black-tailed dusky antechinus. This could pave the way for further efforts to ensure their survival.

"We must take action, so I am pleased the Australian Government has approved this listing and enshrined the protection of the antechinus, and a range of other species, in federal legislation," said Dr Baker.

"We can now turn the country's attention to the important job of saving these threatened species."

Dr Baker hopes that this pushes the government and the population to take immediate action that can save the species before it is too late.

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