Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on teh following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit closes on 1 March 2021
Applicant: Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania
Species/Taxon: Shy albatross Thalassarche cauta
Location: Albatross Island, Nature Reserve.
Title of research: Climate variability influences on shy albatross populations and conservation under climate change.
Aim of project: The project aims to understand the influence of climate variability and change on shy albatross populations, and to use this knowledge in developing climate adaptation tools for their conservation. This application is to capture aerial images of Albatross Island, using an unmanned aerial vehicle, to create a digital elevation model of the island. This model will be used to classify habitat quality across the island and will be used in conjunction with climate and microclimate variables to understand breeding success.
Justification: This project will provide an increased understanding of the relationship between endangered shy albatross and a key anthropogenic stress: climate variation and change. Understanding how local weather and microclimate influence the breeding success of shy albatross requires terrain data, as habitat quality varies across the colony, which can be provided by a digital elevation model. Quantifying the climate-biology interactions allows us to model more accurately how the population is likely to respond under different climate and management scenarios. Importantly, the ability to make predictions into the future provides the opportunity to investigate potential options to enhance population resilience or offset negative impacts.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: Images only of the island will be captured, during the non-breeding period and in low wind conditions to minimise wildlife interaction and could range into the hundreds of individual birds.
Activities undertaken and methods: Visual images of Albatross Island will be taken from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Flights will commence 50-100 m from the colony to minimise human-wildlife interaction. These flights will be conducted at a height of 40-50 m above the colony, for a duration of 30 – 45 min.
Fate of animals: Birds will not be removed or interacted with during this observational experiment.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): Studies have shown than if UAVs are flown to a set of height, speed and UAV type guidelines, they will have minimal to impact on birds. (McEvoy JF, Hall GP, McDonald PG. (2016) Evaluation of unmanned aerial vehicle shape, flight path and camera type for waterfowl surveys: disturbance effects and species recognition. PeerJ 4:e1831 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1831)