Develop a terrestrial Tasmanian mammal skeleton reference collection

Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 20 February 2018

Applicant: School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania

Species/Taxon: Sarcophilus harrisii, Dasyurus viverrinus, Perameles gunni, Macropus rufogriseus, Thylogale billardierii, Trichosurus vulpecula, Dasyurus maculatus, Isoodon obesulus, Bettongia gaimadi, Antechinus swainsonii, Antechinus minimus, Antechinus vandycki sp. nov., Sminthopsis leucopus, Potorous tridactylus, Pseudocheirus peregrinus, Petaurus breviceps, Cercartetus nanus, Cercartetus Lepidus, Hydromys chrysogaster, Pseudomys higginsi, Pseudomys novaehollandiae, Mastacomys focus, Tachyglossus aculeatus, Rattus lutreolus, Macropus giganteus and Vombatus ursinus.

Location: Roads around Tasmania

Title of research: Develop a terrestrial Tasmanian mammal skeleton reference collection

Aim of project: We aim to develop a collection of Tasmanian terrestrial mammal skeletons to use as references when identifying fossil bone specimens. Fossil specimens are frequently broken and fossil teeth (the most diagnostic mammal element) are found in a range of wear stages. Therefore, it is important to have several specimens of the same species to capture the full range of variability that may be encountered in the fossil record. We seek roadkill specimens from 26 species known to occur in Tasmania’s fossil record making them very useful comparative tools that will improve the accuracy of fossil identifications.

Justification: - why working on threatened species or on reserved land - any conservation or management benefits - any benefits to our understanding of Tasmanian ecology or human health
We propose that staff and students from the School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania opportunistically collect roadkill specimens when encountered during unrelated fieldwork to develop a reference collection to aid fossil identification.

The anticipated benefits are:
  • Having a reference collection to aid the identification of specimens that may otherwise remain unidentified, or worse, wrongly identified in museum and university collections
  • Provide insights into the pre-European occurrence of Tasmania’s fauna, including the identification of species that no longer occur here, and
  • Added knowledge of post-European species distributions will contribute to conservation biology and re-introduction efforts undertaken by land managers, zoos and conservation groups.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: This project will involve a maximum of 180 roadkill animals from 26 species. This number is broken down into up to ten specimens from nine common roadkill species and up to five specimens from 17 less common roadkill species.

Activities undertaken and methods:
The animals will be collected when dead, as roadkill, packaged and transported to the University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart, where they will be skeletonised by maceration, a bone preparation technique whereby clean skeletons are obtained from carcasses immersed in water kept at a near-constant temperature so that bacteria can consume flesh leaving clean skeletons for comparative use.

Fate of animals: The project will only collect animals that have already been killed in vehicular collisions. The research team will make all efforts to make sure any animals involved in vehicle collisions that can be rehabilitated receive appropriate care.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
The final clean skeletons will be compiled in boxes and stored in the research collection at the University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Hobart.

Oberon Carter
134 Macquarie Street
Phone: 03 6165 4390


Threatened Species Section - Enquiries
GPO Box 44
Phone: 03 6165 4396

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