Officials have added two Antechinus species to the endangered species list, a new statement from representatives at the Queensland University of Technology reports.
Antechinus refers to a genus of shrew-like marsupials that are known for marathon mating sessions that often leave the males crippled and dying. However, while their own behavior harms populations, humans cause them problems as well.
Currently, scientists are aware of 15 different antechinus species. The two put on the endangered list by Australia’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee are the silver-headed antechinus (Antechinus argentus) and the black-tailed dusky antechinus (Antechinus arktos). Both were placed on the list as a result of reduced habitat and risks tied to climate change.
The marsupials are small, carnivorous creatures. While they have many unique traits, their most striking is the tendency to engage in what is known as suicidal reproduction. During that time, the animals frantically copulate for 14 hour sessions. Weeks later, those sessions lead to mass die-offs where the males expire as a result of exhaustion, injury, and organ failure.
Though that does cut into population size, it is not the only reason for the recent classification. Rather, the change is because the high-altitude habitats the marsupials call home are under constant threat from habitat disturbances, wildfires, and predation from invasive species.
Both the silver-headed and dusky antechinus live in the mountains of southeastern Australia. While researchers are not sure, they speculate the animals went their as a result of shifting environmental conditions.
“They have likely retreated there as the climate has warmed, and there is now nowhere left for them to go,” said Andrew Baker, a researcher at the Queensland University of Technology, according to Live Science.
Though the new classification will help buy the animals some aid, there are no current recovery plans in place for how to help or conserve the regions they call home. Scientists hope the endangered species list will help raise awareness and bring about the new policy in the coming years.