Projects

Conserving the live-bearing seastar (Parvulastra vivipara) through population studies and community engagement

Supervisory Team:

Primary supervisor: Elisabeth Strain

Co-supervisor: Neville Barrett

Additional supervisors: Jemina Stuart-Smith

Background and Research Aims

The live bearing (P. vivipara) is endemic to Tasmania, with populations historically recorded in 13 locations. Recent surveys have demonstrated largest known population of P. vivipara has experienced rapid declines, with ~90% of the population lost in the last 20 years (Parsons 2020). The remaining twelve locations have not been resurveyed since the early 2000’s. In the absence of quantitative surveys, it is possible that this threatened species could become locally extinct. Hence, there is an urgent need to quantify the distribution, total abundances, and habitat requirements of P. vivipara populations to prioritise conservation and management actions. This project aims to develop 1) cost-effective and non-destructive census methods, 2) quantify the distribution and abundances and 3) raise the public awareness of the live bearing seastars population status.

Brief project description:

The live bearing (P. vivipara) is endemic to Tasmania, with populations historically recorded in 13 locations. Recent surveys have demonstrated largest known population of P. vivipara has experienced rapid declines, with ~90% of the population lost in the last 20 years (Parsons 2020). The remaining twelve locations have not been resurveyed since the early 2000’s. In the absence of quantitative surveys, it is possible that this threatened species could become locally extinct. Hence, there is an urgent need to quantify the distribution, total abundances, and habitat requirements of P. vivipara populations to prioritise conservation and management actions. This project aims to develop 1) cost-effective and non-destructive census methods, 2) quantify the distribution and abundances and 3) raise the public awareness of the live bearing seastars population status.

Skills students will develop during this research project:

By the end of this project, the student will have gained skills in undertaking intertidal fieldwork and analysing data. These skills will be invaluable in the context of future employment in environmental sciences.

Authorised by the Executive Director, Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies
December 14, 2021