For the first time this week, the platypus was added to Victoria’s Endangered Species list and classified as “vulnerable” in the state. Population growth, urban sprawl, and drought are damaging the waterways in which they live, which is expected to worsen with climate change.
Scientists do not fully understand where platypus live or how many platypus are spread throughout the state. To address this lack of knowledge, they are encouraging Victorian people to participate in a civic science survey called the “Great Victorian Platypus Search.” Volunteers take samples from local waterways to test for the presence of platypus DNA, a process known as environmental DNA sampling.
“It’s all very well declared to be endangered, but now there’s a very incomplete understanding of where they are and how many they are,” said a small research consultant. I have been working for an Enviro DNA for 20 years.
Odonata, an environmental non-profit organization, wants to work with EnviroDNA and the Aboriginal-led organization Outback Academy Australia to map the entire distribution of platypus across waterways in Victoria and inform them of an attempt to reverse the decline in numbers.
For many species of freshwater ecosystems, this data was previously too difficult and costly to collect, said Nigel Sharp, founder of Odonata.
“Before planning to reverse their decline, we must first close a significant gap in our current understanding of species populations,” he said. “This could reveal platypus outbreaks in new areas where no previous records exist.”
In this project, citizen scientists around Victoria will collect water samples from approximately 2000 designated locations during the platypus breeding season (August-October) and share the samples with the EnviroDNA Institute for platypus. Ask to screen for DNA.
Victorian people are also advised to send platypus sightings online to platypusSPOT or via an app of the same name. The results will be shared online in real time and made publicly available.
Extensive new research on platypus shows how extraordinary these animals are. In a recent study published in the Journal of Mammals, scientists found that platypus fur glows turquoise when illuminated by ultraviolet light (a spectrum of light invisible to the human eye).
Genetic studies have also shown that platypus share milk genes with mammals and spawning genes with birds and reptiles.
The decline of platypus is not limited to Victoria. Five streams around Brisbane have lost platypus populations, and researchers in New South Wales say the platypus in northeastern New South Wales have disappeared due to drought and the effects of wild pests and livestock. Said.
The platypus population in Melbourne has been monitored through trapping surveys and more recently through DNA monitoring. According to Griffith, during the millennium drought, they stopped breeding and disappeared from many local streams, but their numbers are slowly increasing.
When the Victoria State Government announced that it would list the platypus as an endangered species, it said $ 250,000 would soon be used for major habitat restoration work and $ 50,000 for long-term planning. ..
Miki Perkins is a senior journalist and environmental reporter at The Age.
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