Thursday, February 21, 2019


Australian mice are dear to my heart.  My doctoral dissertation described a molecular phylogeny of murids (that is, mice and rats) native to Australasia, and offered evidence for several scenarios about how these cute, charismatic, carving-knife-toothed critters might have spread throughout the region and its diverse ecological niches.

So, it was sad to read that the Australian Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Melissa Price, had changed the conservation status of the Bramble Cay Melomys (Melomys rubicula) "from the Endangered Category to Extinct Category".  A 2016 report had already declared this murid extinct on its tiny four-hectare island in the Torres Strait.  But, its official downgrading in governmental status likely ends further conservation efforts.

Nor can the World Conservation Union ("WCU" or "IUCN") 50-years-without-a-sighting threshold for extinction offer any comfort, for it has been superseded by a new standard whereby a taxon may be considered extinction if "there is no reasonable doubt that the last individual has died."

So, barring rediscovery or deextinction, Bramble Cay will be mouseless.