Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 22 March.
Applicant: University of Tasmania
Species/Taxon: Common wombat (Vombatus ursinus)
Location: Maria Island, Tasmania
Title of research: Impacts and control of sarcoptic mange in common wombats
Aim of project: Bare-nosed wombats, also referred to as 'common' wombats, are considered a widespread species of minimal conservation concern. However, the bare-nosed wombat is subject to many threats including habitat loss, direct and indirect human interaction, and disease. As their range continues to retract and fragment, there is an increased risk of localized population declines and extirpation. The major aim of this research is to fill critical ecological and biological knowledge gaps regarding the genetic structure, diversity, and health of the bare-nosed wombat.
The aims of this project are two-fold:
1. To understand population structure in the bare-nosed wombat across the existing range.
- Identify gene flow and connectivity between these populations.
- Understand genetic diversity within these populations.
2. Reveal historical changes in population size (i.e. bottlenecks, growth, stasis).
Justification: We are performing a study of wombat genetic health, diversity, and population structure across the common wombat range (Tasmania and southern mainland Australia). Through collaborations, we have obtained over 100 tissue samples in Tasmania (mostly from road killed individuals), covering the majority of the common wombats' range. However, we are lacking samples from Maria Island, which may prove to be a genetically important population, as sarcoptic mange (the number one disease threatening wombats) continues to cause devastating population outbreaks in mainland and Tasmanian populations. While sarcoptic mange has been confirmed in Maria Island wombats, the visual symptoms and dynamics of mange on the island are different to what is observed on mainland Tasmania. Collection of mite samples via skin scrapings will help to answer important questions regarding the mite genetics and the evolutionary relationship among mange mites that originate in different geographic locations and/or different host species.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: n=10
Activities undertaken and methods: We would like to use capture-and-release methods for common wombats on Maria Island (n ≤10) to take ear biopsies for our study of wombat genetic diversity and health across their range. Capture procedure will be targeted by use of net. To minimize stress to the animal, wombats captured will be released immediately upon samples being taken, in the location where they were trapped (handling time is estimated to be ~10 minutes). We would also like to opportunistically take skin scrapings from any individuals captured that are suspected of exhibiting signs of mange.
Fate of animals: Release at site of capture
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): n/a