Year long platypus DNA tracking project begins

SCIENCE: Platypus expert Josh Griffiths explains how to use the water sampling technology to 12-year-old Kyneton Secondary College student Lana Hughes at the launch of the year long platypus project. Photo: Sandy Scheltema
SCIENCE: Platypus expert Josh Griffiths explains how to use the water sampling technology to 12-year-old Kyneton Secondary College student Lana Hughes at the launch of the year long platypus project. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

CITIZEN scientists from all over the region descended on the banks of the Campaspe River at Kyneton last Friday for the launch of the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network’s (UCLN) Platypus Project. 

With the delightful sound of poddlebonk frogs calling from the river around them, around 130 people learned about how they could contribute to the project by undertaking their own collection of water samples. 

EnviroDNA’s Senior Wildlife Ecologist and platypus expert Josh Griffiths said the project would involve landcare groups, community members and students from Kyneton Secondary College collecting water samples to test for platypus and blackfish within the rivers. 

This project will allow local citizen scientists to collect comprehensive data across the UCLN region and contribute to a national assessment of platypuses, the largest platypus survey ever undertaken.

Josh Griffiths

This will be done with the use of exciting new technology which tests for platypus DNA in the water. This data will then be logged in to the Australian Biodiversity Atlas. 

“There is little current data on the status of platypus populations across Australia. This project will allow local citizen scientists to collect comprehensive data across the UCLN region and contribute to a national assessment of platypuses, the largest platypus survey ever undertaken,” he said.

EnviroDNA pioneered the development of the eDNA technique for detecting platypus and are the only scientists in the world who have successfully utilised the technology to detect their presence in the wild, having received positive results from samples taken at over 1000 sites across Australia. 

At the end of the year long project, a planning blueprint will be produced highlighting where platypus and blackfish are living along the Coliban and Campaspe Rivers. 

This information will then be handed to land managers such as the North Central Catchment Management Authority, Coliban Water, Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Hepburn Shire Council to assist with the way they manage waterways in the future so to assist with platypus conservation efforts. 

For more information on how you can assist, email: uclandcare@gmail.com