Invertebrates - Macquarie Island

Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 25 May 2020

Applicant: South Australian Museum and University of Adelaide

Species/Taxon: Insects (flies, beetles, and leaf litter invertebrates including springtails, mites, and cockroaches)

Location: Macquarie Island (Sandy Bay and The Isthmus, for which landing and access permits are already held)

Title of research: Biogeography and molecular ecology in the Subantarctic

Aim of project: The overarching aim of this set of three projects is to better understand the evolution and distribution of insects in the subantarctic region, to inform the conservation management of isolated populations. The project is a collaboration between Australian and New Zealand museums and universities, targeting Macquarie, Auckland and Campbell Islands.

Justification: Three projects will be undertaken, as follows:
1. Loss of colour in pollinator-attracting flowers. On Macquarie Island, there is a disproportionate number of plant species with cream-green flowers. Pollinator-plant associations drive the evolution of plant colour, and we will establish if local pollinator-plant associations can be confirmed by analysing pollen obtained from individual insects. Equivalent work on Auckland and Campbell Islands will establish if these findings are comparable between different subantarctic islands, to inform the sustainable management of pollinator-dependent ecosystems threatened by environmental change.

2. Phylogeography of the Salpingid beetle Antarcticodomus. These unique beetles are coastal rock dwellers that feed only on lichen.  They occur on the subantarctic islands of New Zealand but remain undetected on Macquarie Island. Morphological and molecular taxonomy will determine if different areas and different islands are home to different species or subspecies, thereby clarifying the status and conservation needs of individual, isolated populations.

3. Island Biogeography of leaf-litter fauna. This project will extend existing assessments of the biodiversity of ecologically important invertebrates, and build on our understanding of biogeography and colonisation patterns using molecular techniques. Target taxa will be those already being worked on (including springtails, mites, and cockroaches), with a particular emphasis on species with a limited dispersal capacity (aptery or brachyptery). Fresh material will provide the opportunity to apply new molecular techniques to strengthen analyses of ecological patterns and estimate migration and gene flow – essential for understanding how environmental change is likely to modify the distribution of invertebrate assemblages and determine their future conservation needs.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved:
1. Insect pollinators; Flies (spp unknown) and pollen/anthers, <200 individuals.
2. Salpingid Beetles, Antarcticodomus spp. <100 individuals
3. Leaf litter insects; <100spp, <1000 individuals

Activities undertaken and methods:
1. Hand net collecting and plastic vials;
2. Knock-down, low toxicity pyrethrin spray;
3. Leaf litter for funnel extraction off-site

Fate of animals: Insects will be preserved in DNA-grade alcohol and deposited in museum and University collections, shared between Australia and New Zealand according to where the taxonomic and research expertise lies.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
None. Numbers of individuals collected are likely to represent an insignificant fraction of the populations present.



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

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