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Home > Managing Our Natural Resources > 5/14 Shy albatross

Application for Scientific Research Permit

Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment

Applicant: Department of Primary Industries, Parks Water and Environment

Species/Taxon: Shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta)

Location: Albatross Island – Nature Reserve

Title of research: Can we control naturally occurring disease in Shy albatross chicks to improve conservation status?

Aim of project: To investigate the feasibility of using avian insecticide to reduce the mortality of Shy albatross chicks due to naturally occurring disease.

Shy albatross are threatened by a range of processes. The combined impact of anthropogenic climate change and commercial fisheries are considered the most significant stressors. Predictive modelling of the population on Albatross Island suggests that even if all fisheries impacts are mitigated, the population will continue to decline under plausible climate change scenarios.

Increasingly, conservation managers are looking for feasible options to help protect threatened species from the impacts of anthropogenic climate change by increasing their resilience to stressors and/or bolstering the population in other ways.

This project is a low impact trial. The goal is to assist in the development of informed conservation strategies for Shy albatross - to identify minimally invasive, logistically feasible and cost-effective techniques that could potentially be used to mitigate the impacts of climate change on this population. Specifically, this project evaluates the potential to improve population status (in this case by attempting to increase the number of chicks that survive to fledging) by controlling a disease that occurs naturally in the population.

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: We will identify a series of treatment and control plots, applying avian insecticide to a maximum of 250 chicks and their nests in the control plots.

Activities undertaken and methods: The product is applied to chicks, approximately 6-8 weeks prior to fledging, and their nests, made according to manufacturer instructions and using a hand-pumped spray applicator.
Birds will be resurveyed prior to fledging and the number of surviving chicks will be counted and compared between the treatment and control groups. Birds will not be handled.

Fate of animals: After the single treatment, chicks are left in situ and undisturbed until a follow-up count 6 weeks later. Soon after, surviving chicks will fledge the island.

Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
Birds will be monitored for behavioural reactions during the spray application. The treatment product has been developed and approved for use on avian species. The method of application is minimally invasive. Birds are stressed by researcher presence and disturbance and indicators include - standing on nest at approach, clacking of bills, some spitting of oil. These are short-term responses and can be minimised by understanding albatross behaviour, having experience working in and around colonies, and minimising time spent in the colony.
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 Scientific Permits (Fauna) Applications for Public Comment 2014

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