The Platypus Project
The Platypus Project aimed to address the lack of contemporary knowledge about platypus and blackfish populations by investigating the current distribution of platypus and blackfish throughout the upper Campaspe region using environmental DNA (eDNA). Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a non-invasive sampling technique that detects genetic material from a target species secreted into the surrounding environment (e.g. water).
The Platypus Project was a partnership between Upper Campaspe Landcare Network and Melbourne-based scientific research and environmental company EnviroDNA with funding provided by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Staff from Coliban Water and the North Central Catchment Management Authority (NCCMA) assisted as key partners.
The Project had a strong community engagement focus and included school visits, community talks, local radio and newspaper articles, as well as training and participation of local students and residents in the fieldwork to collect water samples and undertake river health assessments.
Senior ecologist and platypus expert Dr Josh Griffiths from EnviroDNA led the project and provided the technical knowledge and advice to Citizen Scientists participating in this Project.
The community engagement activities aimed to encourage local residents to take an active interest in the health of their local waterways and conservation issues.
The data generated will identify declines against historical information, where available, and provide a comprehensive baseline for future monitoring and direct management actions to improve the long term viability of platypus and blackfish populations.
The results will create a key planning blueprint for future waterway management and platypus conservation efforts in the region.
This information is crucial for conservation strategies and planning. The UCLN will work with local and state government, Catchment Management Authorities and the broader community to develop actions to protect these amazing monotremes.
Dr Josh Griffiths from EnviroDNA has recently published the end of Project Report entitled Mapping the distribution of platypuses and blackfish in the upper Campaspe region using citizen scientists and environmental DNA.
Please contact UCLN Facilitator, Rebekah Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0432 491 789 to receive a copy of the Final Report.
Go to platypusSPOT on Facebook for more information (platypusSPOT is a citizen-science and community engagement platform to help improve the conservation status of the iconic platypus).
NOTE – portions of this article are direct extracts taken from the BACKGROUND – Mapping the distribution of platypuses and blackfish in the upper Campaspe region using citizen scientists and environmental DNA.