Springtails - Collembola

​s​Application for Scientific Permit – Available for Public Comment 

Public comment on the following application for a Scientific Research (Fauna) Permit is open until 6 February. ​
Applicant: Monash University

Species/Taxon: Collembola (Springtails -from families Hypogastruridae, Braschystomellidae, Onychiuridae, Tullbergiidae, Isotomidae, Entomobryidae, Katiannidae, Paronellidae, Sminthuridae, Tomoceridae. Of these about 200 per species (they can occur up to 10,000 per m2). 

Location: Lenah Valley, Tamar Valley, Douglas-Aspley National Park, Wielangta Forest Reserve, Southport Lagoon Conservation Area, Tasman National Park, Central Plateau Conservation Area, Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, Walls of Jerusalem National Park, Cradle Mt-Lake St Clair National Park, Savage River National Park, Ben Lomond National Park, Southwest National Park, St. Columba Falls State Reserve, Wellington Park (Mount Wellington), Truganini Conservation Area (Mount Nelson), North Scottsdale Forest Reserve, Mount Stronach Forest Reserve, Myrtle Grove Forest Reserve, Mt. Maurice Forest Reserve, North Esk Forest Reserve

Title of research: Biomimetics, fitness and the springtail cuticle

Aim of project: To investigate the properties of the springtail cuticle at micro- and nano-scales. The
most direct way to understand how biomimetic nanostructured surfaces change properties is to observe how they are altered by the animals that produce them. Changes to springtail cuticle properties and body chemistry affect water loss in these animals. Examination of how they alter cuticle properties to regulate water loss will provide insight into how biomimetic structures might be manipulated to suit particular conditions.

Justification: The aim is to collect both indigenous and introduced species, and indigenous species are usually found in undisturbed areas such as National Parks. The collections will also contribute to general biodiversity knowledge of the park, and will aid in determining certain species’ conservation status as suggested by Greenslade (2013).

Maximum likely numbers of individuals involved: Depending on the suitability of sites in the Park, about two appropriate sites will be chosen. Not more than 10 one litre samples of leaf litter will be taken per site.

Activities undertaken and methods: During the sampling period in the area we aim to collect Collembola (springtails). All possible microhabitats will be sampled incorporating different collection methods. The most commonly used collection method involves taking a litre of leaf litter and surface soil or alternatively surface sediment (usually in a moist habitat as Collembola prefer these areas), in a plastic container. The sample is then transported to the laboratory and the Collembola is extracted using Tullgren-Berlese funnels. Most springtails occur in the bottom layer of leaf litter, but to collect the species that live on plants, the plant is gently beaten and animals are collected on a tray with an aspirator. Decaying, rotten wood is also searched for any specimens. 

Fate of animals: All Collembola collected will either be stored in pure ethanol, or alternatively reared under controlled conditions for experiments. Relative to very high abundance of litter and animals, no impact is expected.  Once sorted and tested for desiccation tolerance the cuticle of these Collembola will be assessed using Scanning electron micrographs 

 ​​Likely impact on species involved (including any by-catch):
There are currently 354 species of Collembola described from Australia, of which 53% are endemic. As knowledge is lacking for this group, we can’t predict the exact species we will find. However, from our previous collections it is highly likely that we will collect species from the following families: Hypogastruridae, Braschystomellidae, Onychiuridae, Tullbergiidae, Isotomidae, Entomobryidae, Katiannidae, Paronellidae, Sminthuridae, Tomoceridae. Common by-catch would be small litter dwelling invertebrates such as mites, amphipods, spiders, pseudoscorpions and insects such as ants and beetle larvae, but not in large numbers. All bycatch will be kept in 99.9% ethanol at Monash University for any interested researchers before being passed on to the Entomology department at Museums Victoria.


Scientific Research Permits
Environment Division
GPO Box 44
Hobart TAS 7000
Email: Scientific.Permits@nre.tas.gov.au