Glow worms (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 23 August.

Applicant: The University of Queensland

Species/Taxon: Arachnocampa tasmaniensis (larval stage)

Location: National Parks and Forest Reserves of Tasmania

Title of research: Genetic Differences in Glow-worms across Tasmania

Aim of project:
The Tasmanian glowworms Arachnocampa tasmaniensis have a strong association with caves but are also found in closed forest. 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? In a recent investigation of 3 populations from southern Tasmania, we found that female-derived genetic traits show high isolation to each site. This finding could point to much higher genetic differentiation across the species distribution than previously expected. This project aims to collect from sites across the known distribution of the species and carry out the same tests to see if the distinctive genetic structure is present in all cave populations and whether forest populations show the same genetic distinctiveness.

-    why working on threatened species or on reserved land:

Arachnocampa tamaniensis is not a threatened species. It is found in habitats that are frequently protected; consequently, the best way to carry out a comprehensive study is to work on populations on reserved land.

-    any conservation or management benefits:

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

-    any benefits to our understanding of Tasmanian ecology or human health:

Tasmania has a number of endemic cave species; however, the ecology and population genetics of cave fauna is not very well known. Information about this species might help us understand whether individual caves or karst regions should be seen as unique habitats.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: Fewer than 300 over the permit period, 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. Any high-risk caving will involve participation of recognised caving clubs.

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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