Sunday, April 6, 2008

What is happening to the koalas?

The future of the koala, perhaps Australia's best-loved animal, is under threat because greenhouse gas emissions are making eucalyptus leaves – their sole food source – inedible.
Scientists warned yesterday that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were reducing nutrient levels in the leaves, and also boosting their toxic tannin content. That has serious implications for koalas and other marsupials that eat only, or mainly, the leaves of gum trees. These include a number of possum and wallaby species. "What we're seeing, essentially, is that the staple diet of these animals is being turned to leather," said Bill Foley, a science professor at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. "This is potentially a very significant development for the future of some marsupial populations. Life is set to become extremely difficult for these animals."
Climate change could help to explain decreases in the numbers of brushtail possums and greater gliders (a large possum) in certain parts of Queensland where none of the usual factors – disease, hunting, loss of habitat – appears to be to blame. Jane De Gabriel, a zoologist at ANU, told The Australian newspaper that brushtail possums had been found to breed more prolifically in woodland areas where the protein levels in eucalyptus leaves were high. "This suggests that in areas where nutrient levels are inadequate, animals will not be able to reproduce successfully," she said. "What follows are extinctions of wildlife populations. It's pretty scary stuff."


Jesús said...

Se van a extinguir especies a doquier, es el fin del mundo maya.

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