Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 16 July 2018.
Applicant: Australian National University, Fenner School of Environment and Society
Species/Taxon: Tasmanian ground parrot (Pezoporus wallicus)
Location: South-west Tasmania (Melaleuca), west coast (Strahan, Birchs Inlet), south and south-east Tasmania (Lake Pedder, Mount Wellington, Snug Tiers, Cockle Creek, Southport Lagoon), north-east. Field sites will most likely cover several land tenures, e.g. national parks, nature reserves and recreation areas, state reserves and private land, exact study locations will be provided as soon as possible.
Title of research: Ecology and status of the Tasmanian ground parrot (Pezoporus wallicus) in a changing environment
Aim of project: As mainland ground parrot populations are declining (Garnett and Crowley 2000), current knowledge of the status of ground parrots in Tasmania is urgently required. Fire frequency and intensity over much of its range has changed dramatically over the past few decades and this is known to affect habitat suitability for the species. Similarly, the critically endangered orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) is on the edge of extinction and overlaps with part of the ground parrot’s range. Fire frequency is strongly implicated as a possible cause of the species’ decline (Stojanovic et al. 2018). The aim of this project will be to increase our understanding on the current range and occupancy status of a much neglected parrot species in Tasmania. Investigating relationships between fire ecology, vegetation, food plant availability and the ground parrot’s presence and abundance across it’s range will hopefully result in significant, beneficial study outcomes and new knowledge of the bird’s range and status, that will help contribute to future conservation and management strategies for the species.
Justification: In Tasmania ground parrots are considered to be common and of no conservation concern. However, data supporting this assertion are weak and over 30 years old (e.g. Bryant 1991). Estimates of historical population size are highly variable, ranging from 20,000 to 100,000 individuals (Newman 1979 in Bryant 1991) and were based on very rudimentary survey techniques. Since these studies essentially no research has been undertaken, few information from opportunistic observations have been added to various databases (e.g. NVA, Australian Bird Atlas, etc.), but none of this data has been collected in a systematic sampling scheme or survey design to answer ecological questions required to properly assess the parrot’s status and manage the species. These major gaps in knowledge plus the state of the species’ close mainland relatives suggest a thorough assessment of the status of the Tasmanian ground parrot is long overdue.
Activities undertaken and methods:
Data will be collected over three consecutive breeding seasons (i.e. ~3 years) at several sites within potential ground parrot habitat in Tasmania. Each of these sites will be monitored/visited with a frequency of 1-5 times during the overall study period. The Tasmanian ground parrot vocalises at dusk and dawn for a short period (~15-60mins) each day and reliably throughout the year (Bryant 1991; Bryant pers. comm.), allowing establishment of presence-absence and relative abundance to be determined. Due to the short period of calling 5-10 audio recorders will be used in addition to two investigators recording calls in the field to cover a broader area, or different locations at once. The recorders will be positioned at selected sites and programmed to record during call periods. This will provide presence-absence records on each sampling occasion and make the area required to be covered more logistically feasible. Short sequences of ground parrot calls will be played over a period of 10-30mins per day at dusk and/or dawn to confirm bird absence. Call play back will not be used when birds are clearly present. As mentioned above, each site will be visited 1-5 times during the overall study period only and within those visits of sites call play back will be applied for a very short time only, further reducing the likelihood of any negative impact to native fauna.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: N/A
Fate of animals: N/A
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): N/A