Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 2 April 2019.
Applicant: Western Sydney University, Cornell University and University of Wollongong
Species/Taxon: Superb lyrebirds, Menura novaehollandiae
Location: Throughout the extralimital range of the species in Tasmania.
Title of research: Investigating the drivers of geographic variation in the vocal display of the superb lyrebird, Menura novaehollandiae
Aim of project: To determine how and why the vocal and visual displays of superb lyrebirds vary throughout Tasmania.
Justification: Superb lyrebirds were introduced to Tasmania in the 1930s and 1940s. Given that male lyrebirds develop their sexual advertisement song by imitating other bird species and through interactions with other male lyrebirds, such a translocation is likely to have a profound effect on the structure of their mating signals. This study will systematically investigate the structure of lyrebird song and determine how and why it differs from the songs of mainland lyrebirds. This project will provide valuable insight into the acoustic ecology of a vocal mimic introduced to Tasmania. More broadly, it will help to understand how cultural evolution drives geographic patterns of complex learned traits in non-human animals.
In Tasmania, superb lyrebirds are found predominantly in Reserved Land, and thus this project needs to be undertaken in protected areas.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: No more than 100 individuals, over three years and throughout the state of Tasmania, will be involved in this study.
Activities undertaken and methods: This project primarily uses autonomous, passive recording devices, and other observational methods, so little impact on the environment is anticipated. Some experiments will be performed involving the playback of sound recordings to lyrebirds, and some individuals will be caught to be individually tagged (colour-banding) and sampled for genetic analysis.
Fate of animals: Any captured individuals will be immediately released at the site of capture after being measured, colour-banded, and after a small tissue sample has been taken for genetic analysis.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): Minimal impacts on superb lyrebirds and other species is anticipated from this project. Most of the work will entail observation and audio-visual recording on free-living individuals, without disturbing natural behaviour. All experimental techniques have been used previously on mainland populations of superb lyrebirds without incident. Individuals could experience short-term stress or discomfort from capture, nest monitoring, or playback experiments, but in our experience they quickly return to normal behaviours. We do not expect any impacts on species other than lyrebirds.