Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 7 May 2019
Applicant: University of New England
Species/Taxon: Southern brown bandicoot (Isoodon obesulus), Eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii), Southern bettong (Bettongia gaimardi), Long-nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), Swamp antechinus, (Antechinus minimus), Dusky antechinus (Antechinus swainsonii), Swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus), Long-tailed mouse (Pseudomys higginsi)
South Lea (Between Kingston and Hobart), The Kingston Beach Golf Course, Mountain River, The Queen’s Domain (Hobart), Hobart and surrounding suburbs, Huonville-Grove, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Southwest National Park and Mount Field National Park.
Title of research: The ecological importance of small mammal dispersal of mycorrhizal fungi
Aim of project:
Vertebrates are important dispersers of mycorrhizal fungal spores throughout forest ecosystems. As the nutrient absorptive organs for the majority of herbaceous plants and trees, mycorrhizal fungi are vital to the overall health of these systems. Mycorrhizal fungi help plants access water, phosphorus, nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals that are key to plant and forest health. Many of the fungi that form these associations are hypogeous (underground) and rely on mycophagous (fungus-eating) animals to dig them up. After ingesting the fruiting bodies, these animals disperse spores through their scats as they move through ecosystems. This spore dispersal is key to the diversity/adaptability of hypogeous fungal communities and their ability to improve the overall health of forests. The question I am posing is: How far are Tasmanian mammals dispersing hypogeous fungi, and what is the impact of these dispersal events on overall soil and forest ecosystem health?
I need to work on reserved land because this is where I anticipate finding the most intact mammal communities and the healthiest forest systems for this study.
Information gathered from this study will expand our knowledge of the habitat needs of these mammal species and their importance for fungal dispersal; having a more complete understanding of these interactions can inform management practices targeted more specifically toward the conservation of these species.
The data from this study will expand our understanding of small mammal behaviour/diets and the taxonomy and diversity of hypogeous fungi associated with these animals and forests.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved:
I plan to set about 100 traps at a time; depending on weather conditions and mammal densities, these will be set at a given site for a period of several days (and no more than 2 weeks).
Activities undertaken and methods:
Animals will be captured using standard Elliott and cage trapping methods. Once an animal has been trapped, they will be identified, weighed and released. Scats from trapped animals will be microscopically studied to determine diets. A few individuals will be fitted with temporary tracking devices that will fall off in less than a week. Fungal fruiting bodies will also be collected from sites.
Fate of animals:
Animals will be released once identified and weighed. Small tracking devices will be attached to some individuals, but these will fall off in less than a week and do not require recapture of animals.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
We anticipate no negative impacts to the species involved in this study.