Ms PENNICUIK (Southern Metropolitan) — International research led by Oregon State University and supported by the University of Sydney and Deakin University, which was published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the world's smallest and largest creatures are at the greatest risk of being wiped out. Researchers say that the smallest creatures are being ignored and there will be dire implications for Australia's ecosystem. The study found that across the world the largest vertebrates are most likely threatened by direct killing by humans, whereas the smallest species are more likely to have restricted geographic ranges, which is an important predictor of extinction risk, and be threatened by habitat degradation.
Dr Thomas Newsome from the faculty of science at Sydney University and Deakin University found that 55 per cent of species in Australia are threatened by biological resource use, which includes hunting, logging and fishing. The largest vertebrates are in most danger from habitat loss and modification stemming especially from pollution, agricultural cropping and logging. Threats that are facing our smallest mammals in Australia and Victoria such as the Leadbeater's possum and greater gliders include logging in the Central Highlands and East Gippsland. Australia also stands out in that a high proportion of species are also threatened by invasive species such as feral cats and wild dogs.