Antechinus is a genus of small marsupial that resembles mice. It is endemic to Australia and threatened to be extinct. For the ones knowing a little bit more about the mice and the Tasmanian devil’s relative, it might seem like the threat comes within Antechinus’s semelparity. Global warming, however, is a much more significant danger for the marsupial.
That is a reproductive strategy where an animal only has a single reproductive period before they die. It reminds of the mantissa male who also dies because of mating, and only the Antechinus isn’t eaten by its mate, but because of an increase in free corticosteroids in the blood.
Still, semelparity isn’t what endangers the Antechinus, but global warming is. Tests in the laboratory revealed that temperature rise disables the Antechinus to maintain their ability to respond to external environmental factors due to changes in their essential life functions (BMR). And not males are most at risk, but pregnant, lactating females. After living in a warmer environment, breathing, cell production, or warmth are altered, thus taking the species to the extinction path.
The most endangered species of Antechinus are the yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes) and the black-tailed Antechinus (Antechinus arktos).
The semelparity shouldn’t be so important, given the extinction threat, the scientists think. But for Antechinus to drag attention outside Australia, it needs to become known. And, how can something be known if not because of its exceptional features?
Only sporadic cases of male survival after mating were observed. Usually, in the mating season, the male Antechinus is covered in sores, its hair is falling out. Coupling is intense for Antechinus and can last up to 12 hours in some species. The male mates with multiple females, so the litters have multiple fathers.
Male die-off occurs because of an increase in free corticosteroids in the blood, which causes a suppression of the immune system and gastrointestinal ulcers and which results in male mortality. An increase in free corticosteroids is thought to allow males to use their reserve energy and give their best to their reproductive effort.
Ethelene is the main editor on DualDove, she likes to write on the latest science news.