Hooded Plover (Thinornis cucullatus)
Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 10 September 2019.
Applicant: School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University.
Species/Taxon: Hooded Plover Thinornis cucullatus
Location: Public land in: Flinders Island, King Island, Three Hummock Island, Arthur Pieman Conservation Reserve (NW), Mount William National Park (NE), Friendly Beaches NP (central E), Bruny Island (SE). We require broad geographic sampling.
Title of research: Assessing the population genetic structure of Hooded Plovers in Tasmania in relation to mainland populations.
Aim of project: Firstly, to examine the genetic makeup of Tasmanian Hooded Plovers, specifically whether they differ from mainland eastern Hooded Plovers. Secondly, to document any genetic structuring of the population within Tasmania.
Justification: This project is under the auspices of a 20-year ongoing conservation science project aimed at conserving Hooded Plovers and their beach habitats. The population of Hooded Plovers east of the Great Australian Bight are currently considered a single nationally Vulnerable Population. Recent genetic analysis on mainland Australia has shown that birds east of the Bight are distinct from those west of the Bight, confirming distinct subspecies. Furthermore, genetic comparison of Victorian and South Australian birds revealed notable population structure, with a distance-by-isolation pattern evident. This work suggests that populations may be separated by biogeographical barriers (e.g. Bass Strait), as well as distance barriers. It is possible that Tasmanian Hooded Plovers represent a distinct population, a Management Significant Unit. In that case, the conservation status of Tasmanian and eastern Australian mainland populations would require reassessment. It is also possible that distinct populations occur within Tasmania itself, i.e. that multiple Management Significant Units occur, each requiring conservation assessment and/or management attention. The proposed project will also define these units should structuring within Tasmania exist.
Currently, Tasmania is the only range state for which genetic sampling is unavailable and thus forms a critical knowledge gap for the successful recovery of the species.The species occurs almost exclusively on open ocean beaches and subcoastal wetlands, meaning that this threatened species almost always occurs within reserved land, and that the researchers need to work in these areas. The proposed sampling techniques have no impact on the coastal reserves in any way. Over 500 Hooded Plovers have been captured and genetic samples taken from the mainland, with no adverse impacts; some have lived up to 21 years of age. In addition to conservation benefits to Tasmanian populations of Hooded Plover, this work augments the understanding of Bass Strait as a biogeographical barrier, and helps clarify the conservation status of the species on mainland Australia.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved:100 birds
Activities undertaken and methods: Birds are captured using well-established and refined trapping techniques, measured and banded, and small blood and feather samples are taken. These techniques mirror those used without incident outside Tasmania (for over 20 years).
Fate of animals: Immediately released at the site of capture.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): In the last 20 years of trapping and genetic sampling we have not had a trap death or injury. Genetic sampling is rapid, we are highly experienced, and we have never had any problems associated with it. Our trapping technique eliminates the risk of any by-catch, we are able to target individual birds. We will not impact on any other species.