Glow-worm (Arachnocampa tasmaniensis)

Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment

​Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 22 November.
Applicant: The University of Queensland

Species/Taxon: Glow-worm, Arachnocampa tamaniensis (larval stage)

Location: Mystery Creek Cave, Ida Bay Karst National Park

Title of research: Population genetics of Tasmanian glow-worms: what is the degree of geneflow between cave and forest populations?

Aim of project: Among Australian glowworm species, Tasmanian glowworms have a unique association with caves where they have large, permanent populations. They are troglophiles, meaning that they can survive and reproduce in caves as well as the outside world. To date, very little research has been carried out on the genetic make-up of troglophiles: are cave populations genetically distinct, or do they have the same genetic makeup as external populations? 

Arachnocampa tamaniensis is found in caves on national park land. These caves may have acted as refugia in the past. Comparison of the genetic make-up of larvae from adjacent caves and from distant forest sites will allow an assessment of the degree of isolation of cave populations.

The results from this study will improve our knowledge of the population dynamics and health of these glow-worms, and will help us implement recovery plans if isolated populations become locally extinct or are impacted by tourism, logging etc. 

Tasmanian cave ecology is not very well known. Information about this iconic species might help us understand the unique bioluminescence regulation mechanism in this species.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: Fewer than 100 over the period of a year, and only 30 or fewer from each site. Given that populations number in the thousands, this is unlikely to have an impact on the health of populations.

Activities undertaken and methods: Entering caves and bush. Hand-collecting glow-worms into tubes for transport back to laboratories in the University of Queensland.

Fate of animals: Animals will be euthanised on collection

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): No significant impact on established populations, no by-catch.



Scientific Research Permits
Natural Values Conservation Branch
134 Macquarie Street
Hobart TAS 7000

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