Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment
Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 29 April 2020.
Applicant: Faculty of Biology, Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland)
Species/Taxon: water bears (Tardigrada) dwelling in mosses and liverworts (Bryophyta, Marchantiophyta)
1. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
2. Mount Roland Conservation Area
3. Arthur River Pieman Conservation Area
4. Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park
5. Mount Field National Park
Title of research: Global, local or fussy? An integrative test of the 'Everything is Everywhere' hypothesis
Aim of project: Uncovering the tardigrade diversity of Tasmania.
In order to provide reliable data for the project, tardigrades should be collected in undisturbed habitats to avoid species transmitted to Tasmania by humans (so-called “biogeographic noise” in the case of microscopic animals). Moreover, tardigrade diversity is typically much higher in mountainous areas than in lowlands and mountains are mostly protected in Tasmania. The most significant impact resulting from our survey will be a comprehensive biodiversity study on the entire phylum of animals almost neglected so far in Tasmania (the bulk of knowledge about Tasmanian tardigrades comes from an unpublished PhD thesis defended in 2004, followed by two short papers, but even such scarce sources indicate high portion of endemic tardigrade species in the local fauna).
Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: Tardigrades are microscopic animals (usually 0.5 mm long) and likely thousands will be collected in this sampling expedition (from zero to several hundred individuals can be found in a single standard sample, i.e. a moss cushion ca. 10 cm in diameter).
Activities undertaken and methods: Collection of a moss/lichen sample is easy: a collector takes a small portion of the material by hand and packs it in a paper envelope, which is then sealed and air-dried. The material is then sent via mail to the fully equipped biodiversity laboratory at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków (Poland), where specific protocols are applied to isolate and analyse animals from the samples.
Fate of animals: Fixed on permanent microscope slides, prepared for scanning electron microscope imaging and DNA extraction. Importantly, the majority of tardigrade specimens extracted from the samples are usually already dead.
Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch): Realistically none, as microscopic animals are characterised by patchy distribution and large overall population sizes. The taxa found altogether with tardigrades in the samples are usually rotifers, ciliates and mites, characterised by roughly similar patterns. In other words, the planned sampling will have no effect on the population dynamics or biodiversity of Tasmanian tardigrades, but it will have a significant effect on the knowledge on this phylum which may later be helpful in designing micrometazoan protection programmes.