Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 10 December 2018
Applicant: University of Tasmania
Common bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus)
Forester kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)
Bennett’s wallaby (Macropus bennetti)
Tasmanian pademelon (Thylogale billardieri)
Maria Island National Park
Wukalina/Mt William National Park
Narawntapu National Park
Title of research: Foraging behaviour of Tasmanian marsupial herbivores in response to changes in predation threat
Aim of project:
To measure how the predator risk-sensitive foraging behaviour of native herbivores has changed since the decline of the Tasmanian devil at Narawntapu and its introduction to Maria Island. This study repeats work done 10 years ago prior to decline and increase of devils at these locations.
Understanding how animals respond to changes in predator densities is useful in planning translocation studies and mitigating the negative impacts of loss or increase in predators. This study is capitalising on studies of anti-predator behaviour in marsupial herbivores done 10 years ago at the same three sites. Since then, devils have been introduced to Maria Island and devil facial tumour disease has caused decline of the devil population at Narawntapu. Devil populations at wukalina have remained the same. The powerful statistical design inherent in repeating these studies will allow strong inferences to be made about the effect of predator densities on prey.
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved:
In this purely behavioural study, hundreds of macropods of the three species and wombats may be sighted and observed.
Activities undertaken and methods:
1. Transects parallel to and 75m into grassland from the forest edge will be walked at a slow pace in the late afternoon, at dusk, after dark and at midnight. The distance from the forest edge of any macropods and wombats sighted will be recorded.
2. Individual animals of each species of macropod will be videoed for 5 minutes from a discreet distance at which they do not react, during the day and at night.
3. Individual macropods will be approached at a slow and steady walk. The distances at which they become alert to the observer and start to move will be recorded. Once the animal has responded, the observer will quietly leave the area.
A thermal video camera will be used for all nocturnal observations.
Fate of animals: No animals will be touched or trapped in this observational study.
Likely impact on species involved: Minimal. Non-invasive study of behaviour.