The dramatic rise in temperatures puts the survival of the numbats to the test

Australia it is also known for its extraordinary and unique wildlife. However, like the rest of the world, it is destined to suffer the associated effectstemperature rise caused by ongoing climate change. This perspective presents one threat important for numerous marsupials, incl numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), already endangered due to habitat loss and the presence of invasive predators that arrived with humans, such as domestic cats and red foxes. So in the face of this growing concern, a team of researchers conducted a study to determine thermal threshold that the numbat can tolerate to keep it from disappearing. The results of the study were published in Journal of Experimental Biology.

The climate change it is a phenomenon that brings the planet, ecosystems and biodiversity to its knees. Along with many other threats of anthropogenic origin, it actually causes extinction of many species which are unable to adapt to rising temperatures. In Australia, concerns focus primarily on marsupials which inhabit the driest areas where temperatures could rise untenable for their survival. Find your way to studies However, these animals without disturbing them is essential to ensure their survival. This awareness led Christine Cooper (Curtin University, Australia) and Philip Withers (University of Western Australia) to use it infrared cameras and computer models to understand how much numbat can handle in terms of high temperatures.

To carry out the study, a pair of researchers set off on forest paths two reserves of Western Australia’s wheat belt, Dryandra Woodland and Boyagin Nature Reserve, during 2020 and 2021 shoot about 50 numbats using their infrared camera. They also used a portable weather station to measure air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation and wind speed. This data was combined to obtain an accurate measurement of the actual ambient temperature during the observation.


The researchers took measurements surface temperature in different parts of the body, both when the numbati were exposed to the sun and when they were in the shade. As expected, it turned out that Direct sunlight caused a rapid rise in body temperature. However, this only contributed to 18% absorbed heat, leading scientists to conclude that animals must have absorbed heat from other sources. From this arises the hypothesis according to which heat comes fromfrom the air and from the groundalong with thermal radiation emitted by surrounding objects, they were the main source of overheating for numbats.

Indeed, scientists have found that high air and soil temperatures cause a limitations to the period when numbats can look for food direct sunlight, which limits this range to approx 10 consecutive minutes. After this short time, the animals are then forced to retreat into the shade. As a result, it is assumed that in the near future as a result of the rise in temperatures as well shade may no longer provide adequate relief thermal for these mammals.

The future of numbats is therefore very uncertain due to climate change. Their ability to forage at night when temperatures are cooler is actually just as compromised because the termites they feed on are too deep in the ground for them to reach. At the same time, theirs vulnerability to predators increases at night. It is therefore necessary to take action action concrete action to stop the rise in global temperatures, otherwise this iconic Australian marsupial risks becoming another and tragic example of a species we could have preserved, but which may instead be destined to dissapear due to human activity.

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