Natural Values Chapter
Native Animals
Issue Report


Background

Wedge-tail eagle (Aquila audax)internal SOE link to larger image

Source: Photograph courtesy of Nick Mooney

This SoE Issue Report focuses on the known changes to the population and abundance of Tasmania's fauna and the threatening processes that affect them. A number of other Issue Reports provide information on the environmental changes that have affected Tasmania's fauna over the past 5 years, including: Internal linkHabitat Change, Internal linkAnimal Pests and Native Animal Diseases, Internal linkClimate Change and Natural Values and Internal linkNative Vegetation. In the Water Chapter, relevant issue reports include Internal linkWater Quantity and Use and Internal linkWetlands. Tasmania's Threatened Fauna Handbook provides a detailed review of threatened species and their habitats (Internal linkDPIW 1999), although it is now in need of an update in the light of new and emerging threats. On-line resources include Tasmania's Wildlife (Internal linkDPIW 2008) and Mammals of Tasmania (Internal linkPWS 2008).

There are indications of increasing pressures and threats affecting the State's unique fauna including the impacts of pests and diseases, ongoing habitat change and the effects of climate change on specific habitats such as wetlands, rivers and dry eucalypt forest. The condition of Tasmania's fauna provides important information about how particular species are faring but also gives insights into the state of the habitats and environments that these species rely upon. The following section provides an overview for each of the key animal types.

Mammals

Tasmanian devil

Tasmanian devilinternal SOE link to larger image

Many species of native mammals are in a precarious state in Australia generally. Twenty-two species of mammals are extinct in Australia; a further eight species are found only on islands (Internal linkCork et al. 2006). Tasmania continues to provide a key refuge for a number of native mammal species. However, there are concerns over Tasmania's capacity to continue to provide this role due to a number of interrelated and emerging pressures.

Tasmania retains the most ecologically diverse group of large marsupial carnivores in Australia—the eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus), the spotted-tail quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and, despite its parlous state, the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii). Several species that are extinct, or nearly so, on mainland Australia maintain viable populations in Tasmania, including the eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii), Tasmanian bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon (Thylogale billardierii). The following table details mammal species listed under the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995.

Mammals listed under the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and example habitat

Source: External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995


Biodiversity is often considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity. Genetic diversity refers to the variation in genes within a species. A qualitative assessment of forest-associated species potentially at risk from isolation and the loss of genetic variation as a result of past human-induced events or natural events has been completed (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007). A total of 270 vertebrate species and vascular plants were assessed as being potentially at risk ranging from moderate to high (104 species) to low (116 species) and unknown (50 species). As shown in the following table, five species of forest-dwelling mammal species have been assessed in terms of their risk from loss of genetic diversity or isolation (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007).

Assessment of the risk to Tasmanian (forest dwelling) threatened mammals from loss of genetic diversity or isolation

Species Status Risk of isolation
Tasmanian devil ( Sarcophilus harrisii ) vulnerable high
New Holland mouse ( Pseudomys novaehollandiae ) endangered high
spotted-tailed quoll ( Dasyurus maculatus ) rare moderate
eastern barred-bandicoot ( Perameles gunnii ) vulnerable low
common wombat (Bass Strait) ( Vombatus ursinus ursinus ) vulnerable low

Source: Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007


The Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) promoted research into the genetic diversity of the Tasmanian devil. It found that devils in eastern Tasmania in particular, do not mount an immune response to DFTD due to a loss of genetic diversity in the most important immune region of the genome (Internal linkTasmanian Government and University of Tasmania 2009).

The introduction of the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a major threat to Tasmania's native mammals and other native wildlife. The ability of the fox to form a viable breeding population in the State will continue to have serious implications for Tasmania's fauna due to predation unless eradication efforts are successful. It is suspected from evidence and collective knowledge that the density of the Tasmanian fox population might be as low as one fox per 500 km2 (Internal linkDPIPWE 2009). The impact of the fox on native wildlife at these densities is unknown, although even a single fox is estimated to eat about 400 gm of food each night, which is equivalent to one bandicoot (Internal linkDPIPWE 2009).

The presence of the European fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Tasmania is a significant threat to critical-size mammals as well as other native species. If the European fox were to become established in Tasmania, 78 native vertebrate species would be at risk. Of these, 34 species have locally restricted ranges, 16 are suspected to be already declining in distribution and 12 are listed as threatened in Commonwealth and State threatened species legislation (Internal linkDPIPWE 2009).

Due to their wide diet, foxes compete with many animals, such as Tasmanian devils and quolls. Species with a preference for dry, open forest such as the Tasmanian bettong (Bettongia gaimadi) and eastern quoll (Dasyurus viverrinus) are most at risk since foxes prefer this habitat above closed, wet forest. Other species are also at risk including the southern brown bandicoots, long-nosed potoroo, Tasmanian pademelon, brushtail possum, ringtail possum, small dasyurids, pygmy possums, quolls and small Tasmanian devils. The impact of the European fox and other pests and diseases affecting Tasmania's native wildlife is described in more detail in Internal linkAnimal Pests and Native Animal Diseases.

Habitat change, habitat fragmentation and climate change are further significant threats affecting Tasmania's wildlife. Further information is provided in Internal linkHabitat Change and Internal linkClimate Change and Natural Values.

Birds

Little tern chickinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkValeria Ruoppolo no date

Tasmania has 12 species of endemic birds. There are also a number of species that are endemic at the subspecies level, such as the threatened wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax), and a number of species which are known as breeding endemics. Breeding endemics breed only in Tasmania and migrate to mainland Australia outside the breeding season. The swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) and the orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster) are two of these species.

As well as being important in their own right, changes in the number and distribution of birds can also tell us about changes in environmental condition. Areas with healthy bird populations are most likely to be those where the other elements of biodiversity (such as vegetation, mammals, reptiles and insects) are thriving. The presence of birds gives an indication of the ecological health at a variety of scales. For example, numerous species of migratory waders use Tasmanian wetlands (e.g. curlews, whimbrels, godwits). A number of birds migrate as far as the northern hemisphere, including the short-tailed shearwater (Puffinus tenuirostris), red-necked stints (Calidris ruficollis), curlew sandpipers (C. ferruginea) and greenshanks (Tringa nebularia). A few Tasmanian off-shore islands are the only Australian breeding sites of the shy albatross (Diomedea cauta).

The global range of many of these species only just reaches Tasmania, so that changes in the annual numbers of these birds provide a useful index of environmental pressures elsewhere. Macquarie Island is a major breeding site for subantarctic birds, including four species of penguins, four species of albatrosses and many other seabirds.

Among the birds, about 50 species migrate to the Australian mainland, including the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor), four cuckoo species, the striated pardalote (Pardalotus striatus), the orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster), and the grey fantail (Rhipidura fuliginosa).

Some changes in migratory species are occurring. There are indications that climate change is restricting habitats for breeding and food sources for some bird species. Migratory sea and shore birds leave and return to Australia earlier because of earlier breeding seasons in warmer Arctic areas. They are placed at higher risk because the timing of Arctic food supply does not coincide with the breeding cycle resulting in the loss of young birds (Internal linkWolcott and Tzaros 2008).

A general global trend is occurring with shorebirds and their wetland habitats under threat worldwide. More than half of all shorebird populations with known trends are declining (Internal linkWetlands International 2006).

Climate may also be a factor in the population decline of the swift parrot as a result of changes in the availability of flowering Eucalyptus globulus or Eucalyptus ovata on the east coast of Tasmania (Internal linkWebb 2008). However, it is difficult to separate the impacts of climate change from other threatening processes that are outlined in this SoE Report such as habitat change and weeds, pests and diseases. Clearing of mature and old-growth forest in Tasmania has been a major factor in causing the decline of the forty spotted pardalote, swift parrot, wedge-tailed eagle and grey goshawk.

While there are very few long-term datasets on populations of birds in Tasmania that would allow trends and changes to be identified, selected data are included in the indicators on Internal linkPopulation Distribution and Trends of Representative Bird Species and Internal linkWaterbird Population Trends. The limited available long-term monitoring is a concern as population declines have a significant risk of being undetected.

The presence of the European fox ( Vulpes vulpes ) in Tasmania is a significant threat to Tasmania's native birds. Evidence of a population of European fox in Tasmania (the discovery of carcasses and scats as opposed to other indicators such as reported sightings) has been increasing since 2005. Due to their wide diet, foxes compete with many animals, such as raptors and ravens. The masked owl, brown goshawk, and the wedge-tailed eagle are some of the species that will be threatened as they compete with the fox for food (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007).

The Threatened Tasmanian Eagles Recovery Plan has identified that a population decline of the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is inferred due to loss of nesting habitat, nest disturbance from land clearance and other inappropriate land management practices and from unnatural mortality, including persecution and collisions with commercial wind turbines (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006). Available data indicate a high proportion of inactive nests and elevated adult mortality leading to a reduction in the mean age of the population and a subsequent reduction in breeding success. High levels of disturbance of breeding habitat also contributes to increasing changes of nest sites, the movement being away from optimal (first choice) sites. The proportion of juvenile birds within the population appears to be decreasing due to a lack of recruitment (Internal linkBell and Mooney 1998). Any further decline in the rate of recruitment may not become apparent for some years, as adult wedge-tailed eagles are long-lived (probably up to 20–25 years in the wild).

Fish

Pedder galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis)

Pedder galaxias (Galaxias pedderensis)internal SOE link to larger image

Source: Inland Fisheries Service

While birds are important indicator species for the condition of Tasmania's native vegetation and coastal habitats, Tasmania's native freshwater fish (together with other indicators such as aquatic invertebrates) are indicative of the health of freshwater aquatic habitat. Viable populations of freshwater fish are indicative that there are sufficient food sources such as crustaceans and aquatic insects, that habitat is relatively intact and that there is sufficient water for the life stages of a species. It also tells us that predation by introduced brown trout (Salmo trutta), brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and rainbow trout (Oncorynchus mykiss) (see Internal linkThreatened Species Network, Australian Government and World Wide Fund for Nature Australia 2008), and other introduced species, such as the fish and frog egg-eating eastern gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki), are being managed effectively.

Golden galaxias

Golden galaxiasinternal SOE link to larger image

Pedder galaxias

Pedder galaxiasinternal SOE link to larger image

Clarence galaxias

Clarence galaxiasinternal SOE link to larger image

Many of Tasmania's native freshwater fish are in a precarious position. They are the most threatened animal group in inland waters. A number of species have been uplisted recently since the release of the Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006–2010 (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006). An additional six species of freshwater fish have been listed under the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995 since 1996, which brings the total number of listed freshwater fish to 11 of the 25 Tasmanian native species at the time of writing this SoE Report.

Threatened Tasmanian native species of Galaxiidae (freshwater fish) in Tasmania

SpeciesĀ  2006 2008
Pedder galaxias ( Galaxias pedderensis ) Endangered Endangered
Swan galaxias ( Galaxias fontanus ) Endangered Endangered
Clarence galaxias ( Galaxias johnstoni ) Endangered Endangered
Swamp galaxias ( Galaxias parvus ) rare Vulnerable
Saddled galaxias ( Galaxias tanycephalus ) Endangered Vulnerable
Golden galaxias ( Galaxias auratus ) rare rare
Arthurs paragalaxias ( Paragalaxias mesotes ) Endangered Endangered
Shannon paragalaxias ( Paragalaxias dissimilis ) Vulnerable Vulnerable
Great Lake paragalaxias ( Paragalaxias eleotroides ) Vulnerable Vulnerable
Western paragalaxias ( Paragalaxias julianus ) rare rare
Dwarf galaxias ( Galaxiella pusilla ) rare Vulnerable

Source: External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995 and Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006


The major threatening processes affecting Tasmania's threatened fish are described in the Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006–2010 (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006) and Tasmania's Threatened Fauna Handbook (Internal linkDPIW 1999). In brief, modifications of habitat through hydro impoundments or other hydrological impacts have been a historic factor in the threatened status of species including the native galaxias species (Pedder galaxias, swamp galaxias, saddled galaxias, Shannon paragalaxias and Great Lake paragalaxias). For example, habitat loss, vegetation clearance and fragmentation is a major cause of decline of the threatened and totally protected dwarf galaxias (Galaxiella pusilla), and swan galaxias (Galaxias fontanus) (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006). Wetland degradation is a major cause of decline of the dwarf galaxias. Available habitat has also been reduced by road culverts creating barriers to upstream movement in some of the streams occupied by swamp galaxias, resulting in its occurrence downstream of the culvert only (IFS unpubl. data). The following CFEV map provides one perspective on habitat issues that may arise for Tasmania's native freshwater fish, which is represented by the CFEV river naturalness index.

River naturalness score (CFEV)

River naturalness score (CFEV)internal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkCFEV database, v1.0 2005

One of the most significant ongoing threats arises through predation and competition from introduced fish species, in particular brown trout. Brown trout has a significant impact directly through predation and in reducing the available habitat for native fish (populations are isolated by the presence of introduced fish). Brown trout in Lake Crescent feed almost exclusively on golden galaxias while other species such as the dwarf galaxias will rarely co-exist with trout (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006).

Clarence galaxias monitoring

Clarence galaxias monitoringinternal SOE link to larger image

Arthurs paragalaxias translocation

Arthurs paragalaxias translocationinternal SOE link to larger image

Tanys

Tanysinternal SOE link to larger image

Stream flows and lake water levels are a significant issue. The driest years have occurred following the publication of the Recovery Plan for Tasmanian Galaxiidae 2006–2010 in 2006, suggesting the need for an update of the Recovery Plan to consider appropriate responses. Dry conditions for several years and low lake levels have caused deterioration in habitat quality and availability for species such as the golden galaxias. The drying of lakes over large areas serves to compound losses of habitat through the loss of shallow lakeside marshes and inflow streams, and exposure of rocky shore habitat. Predation by trout will increase as a result of the loss of the protective rocky shore habitat that may have otherwise provided protection for native freshwater fish.

Invertebrates

Ptunarra Brown Butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra)internal SOE link to larger image

Tasmanian cave spider (Hickmania troglodytes)internal SOE link to larger image

There are an estimated 35,000 non-marine invertebrate species in Tasmania (Internal linkDPIW 1999). Invertebrates have a fundamental role in ecosystem functioning, which enables them to serve as indicator species in some environments. For example, assemblages of macroinvertebrates in rivers as assessed by AUSRIVAS (Australian River Assessment Scheme) are used to determine river health (see Internal linkAquatic Health and indicator=14!;). Aquatic macroinvertebrates include a range of insect, crustacean and molluscan groups, and include snails, water boatmen, dragonflies, stoneflies, mayflies and aquatic worms. Some invertebrates are also referred to as keystone species in natural ecosystems: changes in ecosystem processes can occur because of the displacement of some native invertebrates.

A significant amount of invertebrate research effort has occurred through the Warra Long Term Ecological Research site in southern Tasmania. A recent report by Forster and Grove (Internal link2008) has demonstrated the value of beetles as indicator species for environmental change and in detecting impacts of climate change on decomposition. Further information on the Warra Long Term Ecological Research site is available through the Warra website (External linkThe Warra Long Term Ecological Research (LTER)).

Some weed species are limited by a lack of suitable pollinators but the introduction of exotic pollinators can facilitate rapid spread (Internal linkJavorek no date). The bumblebee, Bombus terrestris is established in the most remote parts of Tasmania including throughout the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) and is not dependent on introduced garden plants. It is likely to have negative impacts on native animals and plants and has the potential to enhance seed production in weeds (Internal linkKingston et al. 2002). In situations where nectar and pollen are in short supply, bumblebees may exhaust the available supplies before the native bees begin to fly (Internal linkHingston and McQuillan 1998).

The use of nectar and pollen resources by bumblebees also disadvantages birds such as honeyeaters and parrots. The endangered swift parrot ( Lathamus discolor) is largely dependent on the nectar and pollen of Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus ovata for food while breeding. Flowers were virtually devoid of nectar when the introduced European honeybees and bumblebees were active (Internal linkHingston and Mallick 2003).

European wasps compete with native bees. They also predate on other native animals, especially invertebrates such as the vulnerable Ptunarra brown butterfly (Oreixenica ptunarra) and mussels. They are also predating on native tadpoles. In environments like the TWWHA, this species may compete with meat eating native animals such as the endangered wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi).

Invertebrate diversity and health is a key component of soil organic matter, which is widely regarded as a vital component of soil physical, chemical and biological fertility. The maintenance of soil organic matter is critical in the long-term management of Tasmanian soils because it binds soil particles into stable aggregates. It also comprises a critical link in the nutrient cycling processes that operate in soils, and contributes to the capacity of soils to hold water and exchange ions with the surrounding soil solution (Internal linkCotching 2006; Internal linkMcKenzie and Dixon 2006). Further information is provided in Internal linkSoil Diversity.

Beyond their fundamental role for ecosystem functioning and in the provision of ecosystem services such as pollination, many of Tasmania's invertebrates are unique and significant. Approximately one third of all invertebrates known in Tasmania are endemic and some groups such as the stag beetles (Lucanidae), geometrid moths (Lepidoptera) and primitive syncarid crustaceans (Anaspididae) are of immense biological significance because of their ancient origins and evolutionary links (Internal linkDPIW 1999).

Tasmania has Australia's richest diversity of temperate zone cave-dwelling invertebrates. The twilight zone of caves is occupied by a great diversity of animals including the giant cave spider ( Hickmania troglodytes ), various cave crickets (Micropathus), the Tasmanian glow worm ( Arachnocampa tasmaniensis ) and carabid beetles (Goedetrechus, Tasmanotrechus, Idacarabus spp.). In contrast to mainland Australia, there are no known bat colonies in Tasmanian caves.

The leaf litter on the forest floor is inhabited by an exceptional variety of detritus-feeding mites and springtails preyed upon by a multitude of tiny endemic beetles and arachnids (e.g. spiders). In one square metre of rainforest litter there can be over 20,000 invertebrates, including as many as 7,000 springtails and 8,000 mites (Coy et al. 1993).

The External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995 currently lists 119 invertebrate species, which includes beetles, butterflies, moths, snails, spiders and crayfish. The giant freshwater lobster Astacopsis gouldi is one example. It occurs only in rivers across northern Tasmania. Having the distinction of being the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world, this creature is threatened by pollution of waterways, loss of stream vegetation, and recreational fishing.

Tasmanian native bee, Megachile maculariformis, on Crowea at the Pulchella Nurseryinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkRobert Luttrell 2009

Honeybee, Apis mellifera with native bee Exoneurainternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkRobert Luttrell 2009

Native bee (Megachilid spc.), Huon regioninternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkRobert Luttrell 2009

Amphibians

Tasmanian tree frog, Birches Inlet

Tasmanian tree frog, Birches Inletinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Matthew Pauza

Eleven species of frog occur throughout Tasmania, three of which are endemic: Tasmanian tree frog ( Litoria burrowsae ), moss froglet ( Bryobatrachus nimbus ) and Tasmanian froglet ( Crinia tasmaniensis ). Two frog species are currently listed under the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995, namely: striped marsh frog ( Limnodynastes peroni) and green and golden frog ( Litoria raniformis ). The striped marsh frog is listed as rare and the green and golden frog is listed as vulnerable. The full list of eleven Tasmanian frog species is available on the Parks and Wildlife External linkFrogs of Tasmania website.

Due to their sensitivity to environmental change, frogs are often referred to as biological indicators for aquatic environments. Many species of frogs throughout the world are in decline due to a variety of threatening processes. Change processes include habitat loss, and the loss of wetlands, pools and ponds. The long-term effect of drought on frog populations is likely to be severe, although some species may fare better than others.

The consequences of the drying out of breeding habitat for the Green and Golden Frog were noted in the Listing Statement in 2001. It was noted that frog activity had declined significantly because of the drought (Internal linkThreatened Species Unit 2001). The Listing Statement notes that declines have been reported from all areas in the last 15 years. Populations have been lost from areas in the Midlands, Derwent Valley and the northwest coast. The distribution on the mainland was unclear at the time the Listing Statement was prepared in 2001, however, it noted that it has disappeared from the Australian Capital Territory and the southern tablelands of New South Wales and has only patchy distribution in Victoria and South Australia.

The following eight years—with the possible exception of 2005—have all been very dry in Tasmania. However, it is unknown how the Green and Golden Frog has fared in the subsequent period.

Global warming and increased ultra-violet radiation have been cited as causal agents (Internal linkTyler 2006). An assessment of the impact of climate change on global amphibian species found that about half of them were susceptible to climate change, including Australian ground frogs (Limnodynastinae), tree frogs (Hylidae) and (Myobatrachidae) (Internal linkFoden et al. 2008). All of Tasmania's 11 species occur in these families.

Climate change may be threatening frog populations in Tasmania as a result of changes to streamflows, the loss of wetlands (see indicator Internal linkExtent and Condition of Wetlands) and through a shift towards optimal temperature regimes for an emerging infectious disease known as chytridiomycosis (Internal linkPounds et al. 2006 referenced in Internal linkPauza and Driessen 2008).

Chytridiomycosis is caused by a pathogenic fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis . The disease is a problem in four regions across Australia, including Tasmania, and is thought to be the agent of a global pandemic in amphibian populations (Internal linkDEH 2006 and Internal linkDPIW 2007). Amphibian chytrid has been linked to the decline and extinction of several frog species on the mainland of Australia since the 1970s (see Internal linkDEH 2006). Infection of amphibians with amphibian chytrid fungus is listed as a key threatening process under the EPBC Act (Internal linkDEH 2006). Seven species of frog have shown visible lesions of chytridiomycosis during the tadpole stage of development: the Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingii), Tasmanian Tree Frog (Litoria burrowsae), Eastern Banjo Frog (Limnodynastes dumerilii), Spotted Marsh Frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis), Tasmanian Froglet (Crinia tasmaniensis), Common Froglet (Crinia signifera), and the Green and Gold Frog (Litoria raniformis) (Internal linkDPIW 2007).

A recent study of chytridiomycosis in the TWWHA found that the majority of the TWWHA is currently free of the pathogen despite the region providing what appear to be optimal conditions (Internal linkPauza and Driessen 2008). Further information on chytridiomycosis is provided in Internal linkAnimal Pests and Native Animal Diseases.

The Tasmania Natural Values Atlas (NVA) is the State's primary repository for animal distribution records, particularly threatened species records and observations by State Government scientific staff. The following table and maps summarise observation counts of frog species and the date of the most recent observation. Some observations were unavailable due to restrictions for threatened species. While the record of frog observations held on the NVA does not allow changes in the distribution and abundance of frog species to be identified, the information can be used by scientists to plan survey work from which information on changes may be gleaned.

Observations of Tasmanian frog species under the Natural Values Atlas (public records only)

Common names Species name Number of observations Most recent recorded NVA observations
Moss froglet Bryobatrachus nimbus 31 20/03/2000
Brown froglet Crinia signifera 2,000 9/09/2007
Tasmanian froglet Crinia tasmaniensis 593 12/12/2003
Smooth frog, tasmanian smooth frog or smooth frog Geocrinia laevis 231 27/03/2004
Banjo frog Limnodynastes dumerili 4 12/01/2004
Striped marsh frog Limnodynastes peroni 86 23/11/2007
Spotted marsh frog, spotted grass frog or spotted marsh frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis 298 1/05/2003
Tasmanian tree frog Litoria burrowsae 93 20/12/2002
Brown tree frog Litoria ewingi 1,171 9/09/2007
Green and golden frog Litoria raniformis 113 22/03/2007
Southern toadlet Pseudophryne semimarmorata 170 7/03/2005
Total 4,790 23/11/2007

The table excludes some observations of restricted frog species.

Source: Internal linkDPIPWE 2009


Observations of frogs from the  Natural Values Atlasinternal SOE link to larger image

Observations of frogs from the  Natural Values Atlas, 2004–08internal SOE link to larger image

Assessing and measuring the current situation

Knowing how Tasmania's native animals are faring is broadly dependent on programs relating to wildlife health and distribution (including monitoring of diseases, population distribution and abundance) and programs directed towards understanding habitat changes and availability.

For threatened species, listing statements typically define recommended monitoring priorities and programs. For example, the listing statement for the Green and Golden Frog recommends conducting a survey for unrecorded populations, particularly on the Bass Strait Islands and to establish a database of records, which includes population and habitat data (Internal linkThreatened Species Unit 2001). There is no statutory requirement that a recommended monitoring approach for a threatened species, as outlined in a listing statement, is implemented.

A recent DPIW review of wildlife monitoring priorities noted that 40% (18 species out of 49) of Priority 1 and 22% (6 species out of 27) of Priority 2 threatened species are currently subject to some level of monitoring (Internal linkDriessen and Hocking 2008).

There are gaps in knowledge of specific type of species because many species are difficult to detect. For example, information remains very limited on the distribution and management needs of invertebrates and marine species. There are also gaps in knowledge of species in particular environments. For example, large areas of Tasmania's coastline and many offshore islands have not been surveyed.

There are a number of constraints on the capacity to monitor and report on population numbers and trends for many bird species. Overall, there are significant challenges in identifying trends for highly mobile species, such as the orange-bellied parrot and the swift parrot. There are very few long-term data sets on which to base management decisions. Given that birds tend to be long-lived, data needs to be collected and managed over the long-term to ensure that population changes are observed. Sporadic survey work can fail to identify episodic population changes. While there have been efforts to survey bird populations these are often limited to count results only and do not attempt to estimate populations.

While there are particular problems in monitoring small birds such as the forty-spotted pardalote, the status of population monitoring programs is only marginally better for more conspicuous birds such as the wedge-tailed eagle. The Threatened Tasmanian Eagles Recovery Plan has identified a number of limitations with white-bellied sea-eagle monitoring such as the limited data on nest condition (Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006). Current unpublished research through the Forest Practices Authority is identifying some shortfalls in the available information for the wedge-tailed eagle. Previous studies have been too coarse to determine critical habitat requirements. Satellite tracking of wedge-tailed eagles to better understand habitat requirements together with a more comprehensive program checking of nesting sites by air would assist in providing the information needed by land managers to make better management decisions.

In the absence of reliable data, populations for some bird species could decline to critical levels with insufficient warning to allow management action to be undertaken, thereby adding to the risk of extinction. The following table lists current monitoring programs for threatened bird species in Tasmania.

Integration of datasets is a further difficulty. Where bird population or nest data are collected, it is held in a variety of formats on desktop computers with limited integration that may allow broader patterns of change to be identified. In some cases, it is important that sensitive data such as on nesting sites is not made publicly available at high levels of spatial accuracy. Nevertheless, it is important both for conservation decision-makers and the wider community to be able to gain regular updates on population trends and changes for threatened Tasmanian bird species. This is not presently possible. DPIW has indicated that recommendations have been made to respond to this issue in DPIW's Wildlife Monitoring Strategy (Internal linkDPIW 2008).

An emerging challenge due to climate change is that protection of habitat no longer provides any guarantee that species contained within these habitats will survive. Monitoring of additional priority species—such as those at the lower end of threatened species status (rare or vulnerable species)—may increasingly be justified to keep an eye on those species that would have not have previously required monitoring. However, as noted in the DPIW review of Wildlife Monitoring Priorities, there is already far more species that would justify monitoring than there are resources available to support these programs (Internal linkDriessen and Hocking 2008). Nonetheless, there is a case to identify species that should be monitored as sentinel or indicator species.

Wildlife health and other species programs

Long-term information on the population trends of key mammal species may provide an indication of the changing relative abundance of native and non-native species in the Tasmanian environment. Subject to sampling issues, population surveys provide a measure of changes in the population and abundance of a species. Some of this information is collected spatially, which allows the analysis of changes in the distribution of monitored species. These data may also be used to complement other data to present a perspective on how a species is responding to changes in its environment.

Spotlight surveys are conducted annually by DPIW for many mammal species in Tasmania. These surveys provide estimates of population trends rather than quantitative counts. Spotlight survey records extend back to 1975 for most species and locations, though not all areas have been monitored since this time.

DPIW ensures that spotlight surveys are conducted only under suitable weather conditions (e.g. nothing more than a light wind, no or very little rain, no fog, etc.) and that as much as possible, human-induced variability is controlled (e.g. observer experience, driver speed, etc.) (Internal linkHocking 2008). The data collected through spotlight surveys are therefore standardised as much as practicable and are considered a very valuable record of medium- to long-term population trends for the species monitored. It is inevitable that some general biases are introduced by the methodology itself, however, as spotlight surveys necessarily rely on counts being conducted along roadsides. Drought conditions cause many species of both herbivores and carnivores to be drawn to roadsides in search of food and this can lead to population numbers being overestimated. In this way, observed population declines may be underestimated and population increases overestimated in drought conditions.

Although little is known of the abundance or population trends of small marsupials such as pygmy possums (Cercartetus spp.), spotlight surveys provide information on some of the more conspicuous native species. It can provide valuable information about medium- to long-term trends in species abundance, particularly if this information is spatially referenced.

Spotlight surveys were designed for monitoring harvested species and are established in areas where most harvesting takes place. As a result, population monitoring records are often heavily influenced by previous harvesting pressures. For this reason, monitoring data for harvested species may not necessarily be indicative of natural fluctuations in population dynamics.

Regions surveyed by DPIW in annual spotlight surveys are shown in the following map.

Spotlight transects used for mammal population surveys

Spotlight transects used for mammal population surveysinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Map production by SoE Unit using spotlight transect location data supplied by Internal linkHocking 2008. Base topographic data provided by the LIST.

In the following example from the Internal linkPopulations of Selected Mammal Species indicator, spotlight survey data show declining survey counts for the Tasmanian devil and eastern quoll in recent years. Care is needed in interpreting these data as, over the longer-term, there has been a high level of data variability. The data suggests that from the mid 1990s Tasmanian devil counts had started to decline and, by 2000, both the Tasmanian devil and eastern quoll show decreasing counts. Coinciding with these recent decreases in counts, feral cat population counts have shown an increase of comparable magnitude. The spotted quoll numbers are also too low to make any useful conclusions, other than that they are still present. Although there is a general decrease in the population counts of ring tail possums, the numbers are quite low, and therefore susceptible to troughs which appear to plummet towards zero.

It is not possible to state any interconnectedness between any of the declines and increases, as there is a complex number of factors affecting each population. It cannot be stated simply that the cats are filling the Tasmanian devil's niche, nor can it be stated that eastern quolls are aligned with devils food source as the devil population decline is predominately resultant from DFTD, not a loss of resource such as food. It is unknown whether the increase in feral cat numbers is causally related to the decline in Tasmanian devils and eastern quolls – the environmental and ecological processes that would allow this to occur are unknown. The Statewide drought, which intensified around 2002, would have some effect on food availability and changes to habitat that would help or hinder access to food sources. What these effects would be cannot be stated from this information, but it would be remiss not to draw the conclusion that it would be a significant factor impacting all the observed species.

Spotlight survey data for devils, quolls, ringtail possums, feral cats

Spotlight survey data for devils, quolls, ringtail possums, feral catsinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkHocking and Dawson 2008

Wildlife monitoring by DPIW is directed towards the following key priority areas: species that are subject to harvesting and culling, threatened species, monitoring of potential threats, monitoring of introduced animals and long-term ecological research. In practice, there are overlaps, and programs such as monitoring of harvesting and culling also provide insights into long-term environmental change. Some species that are not currently threatened but are monitored include the little penguin, leopard seal, Macquarie Island penguin and Australasian gannet.

Species subject to harvesting and culling

There are 20 species of wildlife in Tasmania that are subject to harvesting and culling, of which 16 are monitored. Information gained from this monitoring has been used to identify trends in the abundance of the harvested or culled population and to guide decisions in relation to restrictions on harvesting and culling. Trends in abundance are monitored using a variety of methods ranging from systematic surveys by DPIW staff to sighting records provided by hunters (Internal linkDriessen and Hocking 2008).

Monitoring of threatened species

Wildlife monitoring priorities also include some threatened species. Monitoring of threatened species provides information on the status of species. It also enables the outcomes of management processes to be assessed. For example, threatened mammal species such as the Tasmanian devil are monitored through the DPIW Spotlight Survey program.

Monitoring of potential threats

A program to monitor species at risk from the European fox—such as eastern barred bandicoots, eastern quolls and Tasmanian bettongs—is being established by DPIW. This program will guide management of the species should attempts to eradicate the fox from Tasmania fail. This will complement current monitoring of species through the annual spotlight survey program, which includes some species that are at risk from the European fox such as the brown bandicoot and bettong.

A program to monitor the ecological impacts of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) on a range of species that may be affected by a decrease in devil numbers is also in the process of being established. These programs are funded by both State and Commonwealth governments and undertaken by DPIW (Internal linkDriessen and Hocking 2008).

The Tasmanian Tree Frog is being monitored because of the threat posed by chytrid fungus. Invertebrate and bird communities are being monitored along an altitudinal gradient in southern Tasmania in an effort to detect changes in species distribution in relation to future climate change. The latter is part of the Warra Long Term Ecological Research project.

Introduced Animal Species

Three introduced animal species are specifically targeted for monitoring by the Resource Monitoring and Conservation Division of DPIW. Monitoring is undertaken to detect the presence of foxes and to direct control efforts. European rabbits are monitored at Strathgordon to measure the success of an eradication program and on Macquarie Island to assess the impacts of rabbit and cat control programs. Fallow deer are monitored in the Central Plateau Conservation Area to determine their status and to determine whether control is required. Several other introduced animals that are monitored as part of the spotlight survey program are rabbits, fallow deer and hares.

Habitat programs

Habitat monitoring programs are reviewed in more detail in the Internal linkHabitat Change Issue Report. Broadly, these programs can be grouped in relation to terrestrial vegetation programs, marine programs and freshwater aquatic programs. The key programs are summarised as follows:

  • DPIW has completed a Statewide map coverage of Tasmania's forest and non-forest vegetation communities at 1:25,000 scale.. The Monitoring Vegetation Extent Program (MVEP) has identified changes in forest and non-forest mapped vegetation communities such as through vegetation clearance. These changes have been incorporated into TASVEG 1.3.
  • Capacity to report on changes to estuarine and marine environments is more limited than terrestrial environment, although there is improvement in the mapping of some of these habitats. Between 1992 and 1995, TAFI collected baseline data on fishes, invertebrate and macroalgal communities from 136 reefs around the entire Tasmanian coastline as part of a biogeographical study of inshore reef biota. In 2006 and 2007 these same reef sites were re-surveyed to provide information on changes that have occurred in the last 11–15 years. These data were used in conjunction with existing knowledge of temperate reef ecosystems to establish a suite of biological indicators that are recommended for monitoring the condition of Tasmania's temperate reef habitat in future surveys (Internal linkStuart-Smith et al. 2008). TAFI is also continuing the SEAMAP project that aims to improve the understanding of the marine environment and management of the marine resources.
  • The Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values (CFEV) project enables a variety of river and wetland systems and habitats to be identified. The CFEV Project has been initiated to identify where important freshwater values exist on Crown and private land. The Project provides the basis to better ensure that high priority freshwater values are appropriately considered in the development, conservation and management of the State's water resources. For further information see Conservation of Freshwater Ecosystem Values Project. It is noted that CFEV does not provide the basis to assess changes in the extent or condition of these habitats.

Indicator introduction

Environmental indicators help track changes in the environment. Indicators can help in gaining an appreciation of conditions and trends and changes in the environment without having to capture the full complexity of the system, which is typically unknowable for most ecosystems: it is inherently complex and always changing, as is human interaction with the environment.

Indicators may be physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic that provide useful information about the whole system. In SoE reporting, indicators are also often classified as to whether they relate to the condition of the environment, pressures caused by people on the environment or management responses (in seeking to reduce pressure and improve condition).

In the 2009 SoE website, an indicator may be used across more than one issue report or chapter. For example, measures of water quality in Tasmania's rivers and streams tell us about the condition of these aquatic systems and are used in this part of the SoE Report (condition of freshwater). They may also tell us about pressures on estuaries receiving water from these rivers and catchments (pressures on estuaries).

Index of native animals indicators

Condition indicators Pressure indicators Response indicators
Indicator Indicator description
Populations of Selected Mammal Species Population estimates or trends for selected mammal species in Tasmania, including key native and non-native terrestrial fauna
Population Distribution and Trends of Representative Bird Species Conservation status of selected bird species across a number of habitats. The bird species comprise forest and woodland birds, shorebirds, waterbirds, and seabirds
Waterbird Population Trends A measure of population trends in waterbirds
Animal Pests and Diseases Number of animal pests declared and native animal diseases identified by relevant management authoritiesĀ 
Roadkill Number of native and non-native animals killed on Tasmanian roads
Harvesting, Control and Culling of Terrestrial Animal Species The harvesting, control and culling of native animal species for wildlife management, crop protection, browsing control, commercial enterprise and recreation
Terrestrial Protected Areas Area by vegetation type in protected area categories

Control or culling of some species may be undertaken for land management purposes such as to prevent land degradation due to over-grazing by native animals. There are also a variety of commercial and recreational requirements for harvesting, control and culling.


Indicators

Wallabies and possums

Spotlight survey data - Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons and brushtail possumsinternal SOE link to larger image

Spotlight survey data for devils, quolls, ringtail possums, feral catsinternal SOE link to larger image

Kangaroo, deer, rabbit

Spotlight survey data - Forester kangaroo, deer, rabbit, wombat, hareinternal SOE link to larger image



Populations of Selected Mammal Species - at a glance

This indicator presents the results of spotlight surveys conducted in Tasmania each year from 1985 for selected native and non-native mammal species (Internal linkHocking and Dawson 2008). These surveys provide invaluable long-term information on the population trends of key mammal species. This dataset provides an indication of the changing relative abundance of native and non-native species in the Tasmanian environment. Information from these population trend estimates are also used to dictate the permissable levels of harvesting for each species in subsequent years. Changes since the 2003 SoE Report are highlighted.

  • Spoltlight surveys provide an indication of relative animal abundance from year-to-year and are not intended to reflect actual population numbers for individual species at any one time. Figures of animal observations reported should not be interpreted as total population estimates.
     
  • Observed Tasmanian pademelon numbers increased dramatically in 2005–06 and 2006–07, and then fell sharply in 2007–08. Numbers generally appear to have declined by 25% since the 2003 SoE Report, from 2,000 animals observed in 2002–03 to just above 1,500 observed in 2007–08.
     
  • Observed numbers of Bennetts wallabies and brushtail possums followed a similar pattern to the Tasmanian pademelon, with a sharp rise in observations in 2005–06 followed by a fall in 2006–07. Populations of these species appear reasonably stable either side of this time.
     
  • Tasmanian devil numbers have declined steadily since 2002–03 since the outbreak of DFTD. This species was listed as endangered by the Tasmanian Government in 2008 under the Tasmanian External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995, as a result of very significant reductions in population numbers due to the affect of DFTD.
     
  • This long-term dataset of spotlight survey counts provides vital information about the relative change in population trends between Tasmanian devils, eastern quolls and feral cats. Tasmania's most numerous native carnivorous mammals – Tasmanian devils and eastern quolls – have both decreased in numbers in recent years, while feral cat populations have shown an increase of a comparable magnitude.
     

The following table shows trends in population numbers of selected mammal populations between 1985 and 2008. In the table, species are ranked in order of the magnitude of their decline or increase. For further information on how this table was created, refer to the in depth version of this Indicator.

Population trends of selected mammal species, 1985 to 2008

Species Population trend
Rabbit strongly declining
Tasmanian devil strongly declining
Eastern quoll declining
Ringtail possum declining
Barred bandicoot declining
Bettong declining
Potoroo stable
Spotted-tailed quoll stable
Brown bandicoot stable
Feral cat increasing
Hare increasing
Forester kangaroo increasing
Wombat increasing
Fallow deer strongly increasing
Brushtail possum strongly increasing
Bennets wallaby strongly increasing
Tasmanian pademelon strongly increasing

Animal numbers recorded by roadside spotlight survey may be subject to bias in times of drought, such as the conditions experienced in recent years, as both herbivorous and carnivorous species can be drawn to roadsides in search of food. This bias may have caused the declines in some populations to appear less severe than they actually are. Similarly, increases in other populations may be slightly over-represented here.

Source: Data analysis by SoE Unit using spotlight survey data from Internal linkHocking and Dawson 2008.


Shy albatross, Albatross Island

Population counts of pre-fledge chicks with a simple regression line fittedinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkGales and Alderman 2006

Shy albatross, Pedra Branca

Population counts of pre-fledge chicks with a simple regression line fittedinternal SOE link to larger image

Source: Internal linkGales and Alderman 2006



Population Distribution and Trends of Representative Bird Species - at a glance

This indicator is a broad measure of the conservation and population status of selected threatened and non-threatened bird species across a variety of habitats. Trends and changes in key bird populations are an important indicator not only of the health of the species themselves but potentially of biodiversity health in general.

This indicator provides information on the status of selected bird species across a number of habitats, including: forest and woodland birds, shorebirds and seabirds.

There are a number of constraints on the capacity to monitor and report on population numbers and trends for many bird species: birds are often inconspicuous and difficult to monitor, there are limited data (whether short- or long-term), different measures of population abundance and conservation status are used, and monitoring programs are typically short-term and ad hoc.

Information for this indicator draws from a number of sources, including: the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995; population counts and trends data from the Biodiversity Conservation Branch of DPIW; and Birds Tasmania data.

Care is needed in making general inferences from population trends for species. Because birds are wide-ranging across a variety of habitats or migratory (on global scales for some species), population trends tell us about the cumulative pressures faced by a species across their entire range and at different stages in their life-cycles. The following analysis is subject to the data availability and limitations that are detailed within the indicator.

    Seabirds and shorebirds
  • The Internal linkshy albatross (Thalassarche cauta) is an Australian breeding endemic with colonies only on three islands off Tasmania (Albatross Island, Pedra Branca and Mewstone). It is listed as vulnerable under the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995. The Biodiversity Conservation Branch monitors the status of the shy albatross at Albatross Island, Mewstone and Pedra Branca. Population trend data give an estimated total breeding population in 2005 of approximately 12,750 pairs (Internal linkGales and Alderman 2006). The total population was estimated to be between 50,000 and 60,000 individuals.
  • The breeding success of Internal linkwandering albatross (Diomedea exulans (sensu lato)) on Macquarie Island is monitored by the Biodiversity Conservation Branch. Recent declines in the number of chicks hatched and fledged are a cause for serious concern for the long-term survival of this population.
  • Shorebird populations across a third of Australia are in serious decline, based on data from systematic surveys over 24 years. From the 1980s until 2006, the mean number of shorebirds declined by 77% (Internal linkNebel et al. 2008). Migratory shorebirds have declined by 73%, and Australian resident shorebirds by 81%. Birds Tasmania has a 25 year dataset for the hooded plover, which shows population decline for the species of 25% for this period.

Wedge-tailed eagle (Aquila audax fleayi)

  • The abundance of the Internal linkwedge-tailed eagle (Tasmanian) (Aquila audax fleayi) is not monitored in Tasmania and there is concern at re-stating old population estimates that may or may not be currently accurate (most recent estimates available are from Internal linkThreatened Species Section 2006). Such concerns about the accuracy of population estimates are reinforced by findings of a report released by the Forest Practices Authority that covers the first year of a wedge-tailed eagle monitoring project. The report in full is available from the External linkForest Practices Authority. This project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of current management prescriptions in reducing adverse effects of activities covered by the forest practices system on the breeding success of the wedge-tailed eagle (Internal linkWiersma et al. 2009). The 2007–08 aerial and ground based surveys established a set of 84 nest sites around the State for future monitoring. The monitoring project provides important data on a range of key variables relating to successful and unsuccessful eagle nests. Despite the short-term and small sample size of this study, a number of important results were identified. For example, it was shown that a large proportion of nests are not used in any given year and that not all nests with an eagle attending produce a chick. The example data at left were provided courtesy of Roaring 40s and the Forest Practices Authority. Findings from these data included (Internal linkWiersma et al. 2009):
  • A relatively small proportion (26%) of the 84 nests examined in the first year of survey were successful. Successful nests were distributed evenly across the State.
  • Over half of the nests examined (56%) showed no recent signs of use. The remaining 18% of sites showed signs of activity but no successful breeding ('maintained' category).
  • A slightly higher proportion of nests were successful in areas least disturbed by forestry practices (semi-natural sites: 34%) than forestry areas subject to wedge-tailed eagle nest management prescriptions (20%). However there was no statistically significant association between the activity status of nests and land use category (managed and semi-natural).
  • The majority of nests surveyed were in patches of connected native forest that were greater than 20 ha in area. Two of the eight nests located in patches smaller than 20 ha were successful.

Swift parrot (Lathamus discolor)

  • The monitoring program (breeding season) for the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) has been conducted annually from 1999–2005. Climate change may change the timing and intensity of flowering of Eucalyptus globulus along the east coast of Tasmania, and thus impact the swift parrot. A widespread reduction or changed timing of flowering over a series of years could therefore have a grave effect on breeding success of this species (Internal linkBell 2008). Swift parrots are entirely dependent on the reliable flowering of Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus ovata. Based on survey data of the breeding population in Tasmania, the estimated number of breeding pairs declined by approximately 29% over the eight-year period between the 1987–88 and 1995–96 breeding seasons. Furthermore, reporting rates have declined in recent years, and sightings of large flocks are now rare (Internal linkDEWHA 2008).
  • During the 2004-05 and 2005-06 breeding seasons, nest site surveys found 134 swift parrot nests. Previous to this a dedicated study found that only 40 nests had been recorded throughout Tasmania (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007). During the 2007/08 Swift Parrot breeding season, a monitoring method was trialed to determine the distribution and relative abundance of Swift Parrots (Internal linkWebb 2008). The results from this study suggested that the southern region and an associated flowering event were of particular importance to the species in 2007/08. Only 13% of 383 Swift Parrot observations were recorded elsewhere in the breeding range. Until this study the Swift Parrot was considered to be a dry forest species; however, the southern region is dominated by wet forest. This study also found a strong relationship between Swift Parrot presence and senescent eucalypt forest (potential nesting habitat), and also Eucalyptus globulus and/or Eucalyptus ovata flowering. One of the conclusions of this study was that effective conservation management of Swift Parrots requires a better understanding of flowering patterns and their effects on Swift Parrot reproduction and distribution.

Forty-spotted pardalote (Pardalotus quadragintus)

  • Climate change has been linked to dieback in central and eastern Tasmania. Species with limited distributions that are dependent on one eucalypt species or community, such as the forty-spotted pardalote, will be at particular risk from this process (Internal linkDEWHA 2008). Little is known of population numbers or trends of the forty-spotted pardalote over recent years. Population studies of the forty-spotted pardalote date back to the 1985 (Peter Brown) and mid 1992 (Sally Bryant). There have been no comprehensive recent surveys, although presence and absence studies have been undertaken by DPIW on Bruny Island, Tinderbox and Maria Island.
  • These recent presence and absence studies are not comparable with the 1985 and 1992 studies. Notwithstanding, a concerning finding from these recent studies is that no forty-spotted pardalotes were identified on Bruny Island or Tinderbox. However, a healthy population was evident on Maria Island (Matt Webb, pers. comm.).

Scarlet Robin (Petroica multicolor) and Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)

  • The State of Australian Birds 2008 reported on how some individual species are faring regionally based on a north-south transect that ran from the tip of Cape York to southernmost Tasmania (Internal linkOlsen 2008). Birds Australia investigated changes by to latitude in 23 species that mostly occur across that range. Some common patterns of change between the two periods mid 1998–2003 and mid 2003–2008 were reported in the State of Australian Birds 2008. While no species recorded increases across all of their range, the results showed that two of the reported species showed increases in their reporting rate in Tasmania. The Dusky Woodswallow showed decreases in the north of their range and increases in the south.
  • The Scarlet Robin also showed decreases in the north of their range and increases in the south. Birds Australia has identified that these results could be interpreted as shifts in the distribution of the Scarlet Robin populations consistent with climate change (Internal linkOlsen 2008). The following graphs of the changes in the reporting rate of the Dusky Woodswallow and the Scarlet Robin are provided by Birds Australia.

Flinders Island, Google Earth Image, showing drying of wetland habitat for waterbirds

Flinders Island, Google Earth Image, showing drying of wetland habitat for waterbirdsinternal SOE link to larger image

Lake Dulverton satellite image, 2007

Lake Dulverton satellite image, 2007internal SOE link to larger image

Waterbird counts by zone, 1990–2008

Waterbird counts by zone, 1990–2008internal SOE link to larger image



Waterbird Population Trends - at a glance

This indicator reports on the trends and changes in waterbirds. Population trends tell us about the cumulative pressures faced by a species across their entire range and at different stages in their life-cycles.

Five species of native duck namely; black duck, mountain duck (shelduck), wood duck, chestnut teal and grey teal are hunted in Tasmania during an open season usually held from early March to early June. DPIW monitors their population trends. While the primary purpose of these counts is to monitor the harvest, they also provide invaluable long-term data on population trends.

A significant limitation is the absence of information on the distribution and mobility of populations both within Tasmania (and its islands) and between Tasmania and the Australian mainland. There is currently no systematic national survey that would account for movements between states in response to favourable or unfavourable conditions. It is possible that Tasmania is serving as a refuge for mainland Australia waterbirds following the drying of significant river, lake and wetland habitat on the mainland. However, little is known about this because banding of species halted in the 1970s. The survey technique used in Tasmania is able to provide an indication of trends in relative abundance not absolute population numbers.

  • Drying of wetlands previously thought to be 'permanent' is occurring even with average rainfall. An increase in salinity levels due to lack of freshwater inflow and high evaporation is also occurring. (Internal linkBlackhall 2008).
  • The clumping effect has been the strongest trend evident in the waterbird counts in recent years. Waterbirds will clump when water or food become scarce in their usual habitat. There has been clumping of waterbirds into waterbodies and wetlands in the north, particularly the Tamar River. Birds retreat to coastal estuarine systems, which are now more saline, and may not be valuable refuges in the future (Internal linkBlackhall 2008). In 2008, 25% of all chestnut teal in the State were counted in the Tamar River (Stewart Blackhall pers. comm.).
  • In the Furneaux Group, abundance indicators for mountain duck are showing a downward trend. The chestnut teal is showing a slight upward trend in the north of the State, highlighting the clumping effect into zones that have better relative water and food supply.
  • A recent study highlighted the relationship between waterbird counts and rainfall at Lake Dulverton near Oatlands (Internal linkd'Arville and Blackhall 2008). The graph of waterbird counts and rainfall shows a downward trend in waterbird populations, indicating that even when there is water in Lake Dulverton, other factors such as insufficient food may also be influencing waterbird population recovery.

Feral cats

Density of feral cats (~sci;Felis cattus~!sci;) in Tasmaniainternal SOE link to larger image

European fox

Density of foxes (~sci;Vulpes vulpes~!sci;) in Tasmaniainternal SOE link to larger image

Fox sightings, March 2008

Fox sightings and evidence map, March 2008internal SOE link to larger image



Animal Pests and Diseases - at a glance

This indicator describes the number of introduced animals identified as pests in Tasmania. It also highlights a number of native animal diseases in the State that affect Tasmania's native animals. The indicator is divided into two parts: (1) native animal pests; and (2) native animal diseases. Data was sourced from DPIW and the Inland Fisheries Service (IFS). Additional information was also sourced from a range of government and research agencies including the Department of Environment, Parks, Heritage and the Arts (DEPHA), Forestry Tasmania and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research. A ranking score on priority feral animals that has been developed by the Tasmanian Threatened Species Network is also included. Data availability and limitations are reviewed in the indicator.

The first section focuses on the number of animal pests declared under relevant Tasmanian legislation, the number of animals considered as pests by management authorities, and a review of the animal pests for which management control actions are being undertaken. The second section focuses on native animal diseases identified by management authorities as management priorities. It provides examples of the distribution of three key native animal diseases and their known distribution in Tasmania.

  • In 2008, it was estimated that 447 introduced species were present in Tasmania, comprising 49 vertebrate animals (including 16 mammal species, 23 bird species, 9 fish species and 1 reptile) and 398 introduced invertebrate species. This is likely to be an underestimate.
     
  • Nineteen pest species are listed on Tasmanian legislation, of which 4 are vertebrates and 15 are invertebrates. Since the 2003 SoE Report, the black striped mussel has been declared on the External link: LegislationFisheries (General and Fees) Regulations 1996 as outlined in the External link: LegislationLiving Marine Resources Management Act 1995.
     
  • Other animal pest species may not have been formally declared under legislation, but have been identified as an animal pest by management agencies.
     
  • Five of the six Priority 1 species for monitoring (83%) and six of the ten Priority 2 species for monitoring (60%) are currently subject to some level of ongoing monitoring under the Review of Wildlife Monitoring Priorities 2008.
     
  • The Tasmanian Threatened Species Network in partnership with the Australian Government and WWF-Australia developed a Tasmanian Feral Species Scorecard in 2008 (Internal linkThreatened Species Network, Australian Government and World Wide Fund for Nature Australia 2008). The scorecard identifies 24 key animal pest species including 11 highest priority species, 10 second priority species and three third priority species. Highest priority species identified in the report include the eastern gambusia, European carp, European fox, ferrets, goats, Indian myna, long-necked turtle, oriental weatherloach (Misgurnus anguillicaudatus), rainbow lorikeet (Trichoglossus haemotodus moluccanus) and yabbies (Cherax quadricarinatus; C. destructor).
     
  • In 2008, four introduced animal species (foxes, rabbits, fallow deer and carp) were being targeted for monitoring and management under specific plans.
     
  • There were 258 reported sightings of foxes in Tasmanian in 2006–07 (Internal linkDPIW 2007). Twenty-six fox positive scats from locations across the State were confirmed during 2008. By March 2009, an additional five fox scats collected previously near Derby to the north-east and Wynyard and Boast Harbour in the north-west were confirmed. More sightings and scats continue to be confirmed.
     
  • A total of 10,531 carp were removed from Lake Crescent and Lake Sorell from 2005–08.
     
  • The number of feral cats in Tasmania is not possible to calculate and their density in any one location is variable. It is estimated that the feral cat population may be as high as 150,000 and may have doubled in the two years from 2005 to 2007 (Internal linkHocking 2008).
     
  • Rabbit numbers in Tasmania may have decreased in recent years, possibly due to the drought conditions (particularly in the midlands region) where less food sources are available. Fallow deer numbers appear to have remained relatively stable across Tasmania until 2001, after which observations gradually increased. The peak in observations recorded in 2006 may be due to fallow deer being sighted in more open areas due to drought conditions and less food sources being available (Internal linkHocking 2008).
     
  • DFTD, amphibian chytridmycosis and platypus mucormycosis have been given priority with respect to their assessment, monitoring and management in Tasmania.
     
  • By October 2008, DFTD had spread to 64 confirmed locations covering over 60% of Tasmania (Internal linkTasmanian Government and University of Tasmania 2009; see also Internal linkDPIPWE 2009). DFTD has also been linked to a 64% decline in average sightings of Tasmanian devils over the last decade.
     

A: DFTD

Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) locations, March 2008internal SOE link to larger image

Source: DPIW 2008

B: Cytrid fungus

Distribution of amphibian chytrid fungus, March 2008internal SOE link to larger image

Source: DPIW 2008

C: Mucormycosis

Possible platypus mucormycosis infection, March 2008internal SOE link to larger image

Source: DPIW 2008

High roadkill density locations

High roadkill density locationsinternal SOE link to larger image

Brushtail possum roadkill

Brushtail possum roadkillinternal SOE link to larger image



Roadkill - at a glance

This indicator reports on the number of native and non-native animals killed on Tasmanian roads. The number of animals killed on Tasmanian roads provides an indication of human impacts on native and non-native animal populations. In addition, roads can cause fragmentation of populations that result in the loss of habitat and reduced habitat ranges. This indicator is based on research conducted by Alistair Hobday and Melinda Minstrell from the University of Tasmania between June 2001 and November 2004. Data was collected by an observer in a moving vehicle using a GPS (Internal linkHobday and Minstrell 2008). More information on their survey can be found through External linkRoadkilltas website. Some of the summary findings from their research includes the following:

  • A wide range of carcasses are encountered on urban, country and remote roads across the State. The impact of roadkill on native and non-native animals can be either direct when they are killed, or indirect when the death of a key member of a population potentially divides or fragments a population in terms of reduced breeding success and restricted gene flow.
  • The three-year study assessed the frequency and distribution of species killed on Tasmanian roads (Internal linkHobday and Minstrell 2008). Seasonal surveys were completed along five major routes, for a total of 154 trips. Over 15,000 km of road were surveyed in five regions: the Tasman, eastern, northern, central and southern regions. In total, 5,691 individuals in 54 taxa (22 mammals, 32 birds and 2 reptiles) were recorded for an average roadkill density of 0.372 km. Over 50% of encountered roadkill were identified to species. Tasmanian roads surveyed for roadkill in the period June 2001 to November 2004 are detailed in the map.
  • Roadkilltas identifies that approximately 293,000 animals are killed on Tasmanian roads each year and that there are about 67 high roadkill hotspots and 201 medium roadkill hotspots (Internal linkRoadkillTas 2008).
  • The most frequent item in the survey was unidentified mammals, at 38% of all items detected (Internal linkHobday and Minstrell 2008). Brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) (27%) and Tasmanian pademelon (Thylogale billardierii ) (7%) were the most common species identified (in overall numbers and frequency of trips encountered). The 10 most common taxa accounted for 99% of the items observed. Other taxa comprising the top 10 were rabbits, unidentified birds, Bennetts wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus), silver gull (Larus novaehollandiae), masked lapwing (Vanellus miles), forest raven (Corvus tasmanicus) and Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii).
  • A total of 49 Tasmanian devils were recorded, which is less than 1% of the total carcasses (1.5% of identified taxa). However, they were widespread and encountered in 20% of the trips. It should be noted that this survey pre-dated the more recent significant decline in the population of the Tasmanian Devil due to the Devil Facial Tumour Disease.
  • Along with seasonal differences, the survey found that road kill is not distributed evenly along the surveyed roads and that local hotspots often occur in areas of native forest or in farming and woodland regions. Relatively more roadkill was observed at higher speeds, with 50% of roadkill detected when the survey vehicle speed was greater than 80 km/h. Speed was related to roadkill density even within small regions, where faunal density might be expected to be similar (mean route-box transit distance is about 2 km).

Crop protection permit returns - wallabies, pademelons and brushtail possumsinternal SOE link to larger image

Crop protection permit returns - Forester kangaroo, fallow deer, Tasmanian devil and wombatinternal SOE link to larger image

Commercial harvesting and non-commercial culling of brushtail possums in Tasmaniainternal SOE link to larger image

State forest production and animals culled in State forest in 2006-07, by forest districtinternal SOE link to larger image



Harvesting, Control and Culling of Terrestrial Animal Species - at a glance

This indicator details the level of harvesting and culling of native fauna for crop protection and wildlife management, commercial enterprise, mammal browsing control, and recreation. It also includes harvesting details for some non-native animals that have become established in Tasmania. DPIW data on crop protection permits were made available for the SoE Report. Some figures of 'non-commercial shooting' of wallabies—including those killed for crop protection and recreation—were published in the Sustainability Indicators for Tasmanian Forests 2001–2006 report (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007), though these numbers do not reflect the full complement of harvesting for crop protection in Tasmania.

  • DPIW issues licences for culling fauna under crop protection permits. There has been a sharp rise in the number of wallabies and pademelons culled under crop protection permits since the 2003 SoE Report, with harvested numbers rising over 75% from around 0.8 million in 2002–03 to over 1.4 million in 2006–07. The number of brushtail possums harvested over the same period has risen by 32%, from around 220,000 to 287,000 animals. Forester kangaroo culling has risen over four-fold since the 2003 SoE Report. Culling intensity of wombats – the only other species currently culled under this permit – has fluctuated since 2003 although the rate is currently at its highest level since 1997–98.
     
  • There has been a marked decline in commercial harvesting of wallabies and brushtail possums since 2001, and a much greater long-term decline since the mid-1980s. This decline is largely attributable to the demise of the fur trade, although in later years it has been heavily influenced by changes to China's meat import regulations; where China was previously a major consumer of possum meat from Tasmania (Greg Hocking pers comm.). The virtual collapse of the commercial harvesting industry has been countered by greatly increased non-commercial harvesting operations, falling mainly under crop protection permits (Internal linkDPIW 2008).
     
  • Bennetts wallabies, Tasmanian pademelons and brushtail possums are culled by Forestry Tasmania in State forests under mammal browsing management permits. Current records are considered accurate only for the 2006–07 year so trends in harvesting across time cannot be reported in this SoE Report. There is a strong correlation between the level of forest production—measured as the total quantity of timber products harvested—and the number of native animal browsers culled in each of the five State forest districts in 2006–07. Of the five forest production districts, Bass in the northeast of the State had both the highest level of timber production and the highest level of animal culling in 2006–07.
     
  • Game licence returns for animals harvested for recreation or commercial enterprise have been recorded by DPIW under the Permit Licence and Issuing System (PELIS) since 2006. Prior to PELIS, there were records of licences issued although no records on the number of animals harvested. The number of licences issued is a poor indication of the number of animals harvested because a large company can be issued with a single licence. In 2007, recreational hunters legally harvested over 35,000 wild ducks. Tasmania was the only Australian state with an open duck hunting season in 2008.
     
  • Short-tailed shearwaters are harvested both commercially and recreationally in Tasmania. Recreational harvesting is permitted at selected locations on the west coast, King Island and the Furneaux and Hunter Group of Islands. In total, 1,001 recreational licences were sold across the State during the 2008 season (Internal linkMonash and Hocking 2008). A total of 68,335 chicks were reportedly harvested recreationally in 2008; an increase of 21% from the previous year when 56,332 were reportedly taken (data from Internal linkHocking 2008). In addition to the estimated number of short-tailed shearwaters that are harvested under recreational game licences, approximately 200,000 of these birds are harvested annually by commercial operators in Tasmania (Internal linkPWS 2008).
     
  • Illegal hunting is known to occur in the State although no estimates on the number of illegally harvested animals are available.
     

Vegetation in reserves

Vegetation groups in reserved areasinternal SOE link to larger image

Non-reserved vegetation

Vegetation groups on unreserved landinternal SOE link to larger image

North-south connectivity

Vegetation connectivity in reserves across Tasmaniainternal SOE link to larger image



Terrestrial Protected Areas - at a glance

This indicator reports on the area by vegetation type in protected area categories as defined by the IUCN, in hectares and as a percentage of the pre-1750 area, by IBRA. Information on the reserve system in Tasmania and the vegetation contained within these reserves is readily available and regularly updated. The information for this indicator was drawn from unpublished data provided by DPIPWE and published sources. The published sources used include the Sustainability Indicators for Tasmanian Forests 2001–2006 (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007).

  • Of the 50 native forest communities, 35 have at least 15 per cent of their estimated pre-1750 extent protected in reserves (Internal linkState of Tasmania 2007).
  • A 2007 World Wildlife Fund report Report Building Nature's Safety Net 2008 Progress on the Directions for the National Reserve System identified Western Australia and Tasmania as the top ranking jurisdictions for growth of protected areas (Internal linkSattler and Taylor 2008).
  • The majority of Tasmania's reserve system is within IUCN category Ib Wilderness Area (protected area managed mainly for wilderness protection) and IUCN category II National Park (protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and recreation). These combined categories contain 1,276,000 ha or about 43% of the total reserved.
  • There is significant variation in levels of reservation across bioregions and for different vegetation communities.



Management responses

The following section provides an overview of programs that have implications for native animals in Tasmania. More information is provided in the following issue reports: Internal linkAnimal Pests and Native Animal Diseases, Internal linkHabitat Change, Internal linkEstuarine and Marine Pests and Diseases and Internal linkNative Vegetation. Management responses relating to native animals may be grouped under the broad categories of animal pest and disease management, habitat retention and listing under the External link: LegislationThreatened Species Protection Act 1995. Some of the key responses, including policies and strategies and other related programs, projects, frameworks and initiatives are listed below.

Legislation

Management policies and strategies

  • DPIW developed the 2008 strategic planning document titled Review of Wildlife Monitoring Priorities (Internal linkDriessen and Hocking 2008). As well as setting monitoring priorities for introduced animal species, it also sets priorities for species that are listed as threatened, species subject to a potential threat, and species that are harvested or culled.
     
  • DPIW has subsequently produced a Wildlife Monitoring Strategy (Internal linkDPIW 2008)
     
  • The Australian Pest Management Strategy, 2007 outlines three broad key goals and objectives (including providing leadership, preventing the establishment of pest animals, and managing the impacts of established pests) to help ensure that Australia's biodiversity, agricultural assets and social values are 'secure from the impacts of vertebrate pest animals' (Internal linkNRM Ministerial Council 2007). DPIW is currently incorporating the goals and objectives of this Plan into State-led initiatives.
     
  • In February 2007, DPIW released the Tasmanian Biosecurity Policy and the Tasmanian Biosecurity Strategy. This document provides a plan of action for the State's biosecurity system. More information can be found on the DPIW External linkTasmanian Biosecurity Policy and Tasmanian Biosecurity Strategy website.
     
  • Since the 2003 SoE Report, the Tasmanian Government has expanded European fox eradication efforts in the State. In 2006, the Minister for Primary Industries announced funding for a ten-year Fox Eradication Strategy. In early 2008, the Tasmanian Government announced its ongoing commitment to the $56 million, 10-year Fox Eradication Program (Internal linkDPIW 2007). The Tasmanian Government committed $2.53 million per year for 10 years, in addition to $600,000 already allocated per year for the next four years. The Australian Government also committed $2.53 million for the 2007–08 financial year and negotiations are continuing for the remaining years of the Strategy (Internal linkDPIPWE 2009). By late 2008, there were over 55 DPIW staff employed on the Program.
     
  • The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has been strongly supported by the Tasmanian and Australian Governments. In 2005, the Devil Facial Tumour Disease Management Strategy was established to improve disease management and risk minimisation (Internal linkDPIWE 2005). By early 2008, a five-year plan had been developed to guide the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program until 2013. The Australian Government has also committed funding of $10 million over five years. In addition, $117,000 in research grants and scholarships were awarded in 2008 from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal that was largely funded by public donations (Internal linkUniversity of Tasmania 2008).
     
  • DPIW and DEPHA commenced implementing the Plan for the Eradication of Rabbits and Rodents on Subantarctic Macquarie Island in late 2007. The eradication program will take up to seven years. Further information on the Plan can be accessed through the External linkDEPHA website.
     
  • DPIW is developing a catchment-based Biosecurity Protocol for Tasmania to help reduce the spread of native animal diseases. While the development of the Protocol has initially focused on the amphibian chytridiomycosis, it has a generic focus and includes known pathogens such as such as platypus mucormycosis, chytrid fungus, phytophthora and didymo.
     
  • In 2007, a Wildlife Disease Strategy was developed for the TWWHA by DPIW.
     
  • A National Threat Abatement Plan for Psittacine circoviral disease (PCD) has been developed. Its goals are to ensure PCD does not increase the likelihood of extinction or escalate the threatened status of psittacine birds (orange-bellied parrots); and 'to minimise the likelihood of beak and feather disease becoming a key threatening process for other psittacine species' (Internal linkDEH 2005). At the time of writing this SoE Report, DPIW was developing a management strategy for PCD in Tasmania.
     
  • To manage the risk of marine pests being translocated in and around Tasmania, voluntary Best Practice Guidelines are being developed by the Tasmanian Government in partnership with the fishing industry. The Guidelines are due for release in late-2008 and they aim to curb the spread of all vectors that may contribute to the risk of domestic marine pest translocations.
     
  • The revision of the Policy on Maintenance of a Permanent Native Forest Estate in 2005 resulted in the retention levels set for the maintenance of the permanent native forest estate being raised from 80% to 95% of the 1996 native forest area. The formal listing of threatened forest communities within the External link: LegislationForest Practices Regulations 1997 provides for protection from clearance and conversion. Broadscale clearing and conversion of native forest will be phased out on public land by 2010 and clearing and conversion of native forest on private land will be phased out in 2015.
     

Other programs, projects, frameworks and initiatives

  • DPIW produced the disease manual, Wildlife Health in Tasmania: Disease Information in 2007 (Internal linkDPIW 2007). The Manual provides wildlife health managers with concise reference material in relation to diseases of significance affecting or potentially affecting Tasmanian terrestrial and marine wildlife; and supplies information on what to do and who to contact when presented with sick or injured Tasmanian wildlife.
     
  • The DPIW Natural Values Atlas and its public access via the internet has been developed over the past five years. In 2006–07, the Atlas was finalised and it provides a comprehensive Statewide database on over 20,000 plant and animal species locations and threatened vegetation communities. The Atlas has been used to provide a number of maps of species observations within this SoE Report. The Natural Values Atlas can be found on the DPIW website (Internal linkDPIPWE 2009).
     
  • At the beginning of 2008, a program to monitor species at risk from the European fox, such as eastern barred bandicoots (Perameles gunnii), eastern quolls (Dasyurus viverrinus), and Tasmanian bettongs (Bettongia gaimadi) was established by DPIW. This program aims to guide management of these species should attempts to eradicate foxes from Tasmania fail. This program is funded by both the State and Australian governments and undertaken by DPIW.
     
  • The Carp Management Program was developed and funded by the State Government to deal with the problem of European carp in Tasmania. Since the commencement of the Program, officers from the IFS have caught and eradicated a total of 10,531 carp from Lake Crescent and Lake Sorell from February 2005 to February 2008. More information on carp fishdown efforts is detailed in the Internal linkAnimal Pests and Diseases Indicator.
     
  • DPIW continues to maintain a field-based surveillance and investigatory capacity for exotic and endemic animal diseases, including animal diseases of public health significance. In 2005–06, 12 veterinary practices around Tasmania were contracted to support DPIW staff in surveillance and investigatory services (Internal linkDPIW 2006). This approach has led to closer working relationships between DPIW and private animal health providers.
     
  • In 2007, DPIW established an Expert Assessment Panel to assess the introduction and importation into Tasmania of controlled and restricted animals and to develop management plans and codes of practice to regulate their use.
     
  • DPIW released the Cat Management in Tasmania: Position Paper for Public Consultation Taking the Initiative in August 2008. At the time of writing this SoE Report, the Tasmanian Government proposed: (1) mandatory de-sexing and micro-chipping of domestic cats, phased in over four years; (2) a register of cat breeders; (3) legislation to underpin this approach and clarify the status of individuals and organisations that trap or control feral cats on private and/or public land; and (4) promoting responsible cat ownership, including advice on what to do with unwanted cats.
     
  • A new container inspection regime was also introduced by DPIW in 2007 to strengthen quarantine barrier controls. A review has been completed of the quarantine barrier on King and Flinders islands.
     
  • A survey of the distribution of amphibian chytrid fungus in western Tasmania was completed in 2007. The survey identified significant areas where the disease is absent, particularly in the WWHA, and the findings have been incorporated into the development of management actions to prevent the spread of disease. For example, DPIW has developed a hygiene protocol (including wash-down guidelines for equipment) to control the spread of frog diseases more generally (Internal linkDPIW 2008). (Internal linkPauza and Driessen 2008).
     
  • DPIW recently commenced a Chytrid Research and Management Project. The aim of the project is to determine the distribution of chytrid in Tasmania (following on from the previous survey) and to assess the impact of the disease on Tasmanian frog species. In addition, a Chytrid Management Plan will be drafted in 2009 with the objective of developing strategies to reduce the spread of the disease.
     
  • The DPIW Platypus Conservation Program was established in 2007 with the support of NRM North and additional funding provided by the Australian Government through the Caring for our Country program in 2008. The program is aimed at improving understanding of how mucormycosis disease is spread amongst platypuses, what the vectors are in an area, and how it affects the abundance or distribution of this species. This community and science-based conservation program will assess the health and status of the platypus in Tasmania and develop a strategy for their conservation and management in the State. DPIW is also working in partnership with the University of Tasmania to develop screening tests for the Mucor amphibiorum fungus to better understand how it is spread and determine if some animals can build up immunity to the disease.
     
  • Significant progress has been made with regard to developing knowledge of the potential risk of new marine pest species entering the State. In addition to research that has been undertaken by various organisations such as TAFI, the University of Tasmania and CSIRO on the distribution of marine pests and their impacts on the marine ecosystem, baseline port surveys were completed for all first ports of call and other high risk ports and marinas in Tasmania from 2001–04 to assess the distribution and abundance of marine species. DPIW continues to work with the ports to establish longer-term monitoring programs to maintain the currency of the port survey data and increase early warning capabilities.
     
  • Greening Australia and the University of Tasmania have established a new partnership to build resilience into Tasmania's landscapes. The main project will be the restoration of the Upper Derwent Catchment through biodiverse carbon plantings. Multiple hectares of locally sourced native species will be planted to create a carbon sink that self regenerates well into the future. The partnership will see several UTAS Schools direct research activity from PhD students and academic staff into joint research funding opportunities. The outcomes will be improved river health, water quality and other ecosystems services such as biodiversity and landscape productivity. Over the longer-term it will help to ensure that landscapes can become more resilient and adaptive to better respond to climate change. Further information on the project is available from External linkGreening Australia.
     
  • The Private Land Conservation Program (PLCP) commenced operation in July 2006 as a discrete unit within the Conservation Policy and Planning Branch in DPIW. The main function of this unit is to facilitate the sustainable management of natural diversity on private land within the context of sustainable production and natural resource management. This is achieved primarily by establishing voluntary land management agreements with private landowners and developing an integrated approach with whole of property planning, focusing on the linkages between plans, regulation and standards. The PLCP has three groups: Conservation Agreements; Quality Assurance and Document Processing; and Monitoring and Stewardship.
     
  • The Conservation Agreements group incorporates Land for Wildlife (LFW), Protected Areas on Private Land (PAPL), Private Forests Reserve Program (PFRP) and Non-forest Vegetation Program (NFVP). This group works with external partners such as the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy (TLC) on particular programs, and is working to develop new and additional modes of conservation agreements with private landowners.
     

  External linkTasmanian Planning Commissioninternal SOE link to larger image

  Contact the Commission on:

email: External linksoe@justice.tas.gov.au
Phone: (03) 6233 2795 (within Australia)
Fax: (03) 6233 5400 (within Australia)
Or mail to: Tasmanian Planning Commission, GPO Box 1691, Hobart, TAS, 7001, Australia

 


Last Modified: 1 Mar 2010
URL: http://soer.justice.tas.gov.au/2009/nat/4/issue/63/index.php
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