SYDNEY (AFP) — Native Australian animals are at increased risk of extinction due to climate change, according to a report released Tuesday which found invasive species could benefit from rising temperatures.
Species at risk from higher temperatures and lower rainfall include the kangaroo-like rock wallaby, the rabbit-eared bilby and the quoll, a native cat, the report by environmental group WWF Australia said.
These animals are already battling bushfires, loss of habitat and introduced predators such as the cane toad and the European fox — threats which are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, it said.
“The early signs are that climate change is likely to make all of the existing threats to species worse,” it said.
“As humans respond to changes in climate, agricultural expansion into parts of Australia, such as the northern savannahs, that are predicted to have more rainfall, will mean old threats to species in new places.”
The report said weeds and pests were able to colonise new habitats quickly and even favoured changing conditions.
“The threat posed by invasive species could increase with climate change,” it said. “Pests such as the cane toad will thrive in warmer conditions and move into new areas.”
WWF spokeswoman Tammie Matson said the country already has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world, with close to 40 percent of global mammal extinctions in the last 200 years.