We’re a partner on Australia’s largest-ever citizen science project

We’re a partner on Australia’s largest-ever citizen science project

October 2021

Carbon Landscapes is partnering in one of the largest citizen science projects in Australia’s history to help bring the iconic but embattled platypus back from the brink of extinction.

We’ve joined with Victorian environmental not-for-profit organisation Odonata on The Great Australian Platypus Search, which is using cutting-edge eDNA technology in collecting water samples to find evidence of the notoriously elusive species from 1,500 sites across Victoria.

A range of other organisations have helped make the project a reality, including World Wild Fund for Nature-Australia, the Victorian Government, EnviroDNA, Parks Victoria, Outback Academy Australia, The Ross Trust, Waterwatch Victoria, Capricorn Foundation 2040, Environment Education Victoria, Planet Warrior Education, Fouress Foundation, PMF Foundation, and Latrobe University.

While Carbon Landscapes has assisted in bringing these groups together, we’ve also helped to determine the location of testing sites.  

Right now, citizen scientists are gathering the samples using special test kits, which will then be analysed in the lab by EnviroDNA.

With this research, scientists will be able to map platypus populations across the state, highlighting platypus refuge areas that can be immediately supported.

Data of this quality and consistency has never been gathered on this scale before in Australia, and potentially the world, making this one of the most significant citizen science and biodiversity research projects in history.

The research will also help determine the range of other wildlife living in Victoria’s rivers and water catchments as well.

 Why this work is so important

The Great Australian Platypus Search represents a unique opportunity to help save an iconic Australian animal.

“Our beloved platypus is now threatened in Victoria, and numbers took a big hit during the bushfires,” says Odonata Chief Executive Sam Marwood.

“Platypuses are usually really hard to track as they are so shy and eDNA technology allows us to know where they are and how we can best help. It’s a revolution for threatened species conservation.” 

According to Darren Grover, WWF-Australia’s Head of Healthy Land and Seascapes: “Platypuses are to our rivers what koalas are to our forests, but there’s a real risk they will disappear if we don’t better protect their habitat.

“This project will help us understand where they still survive in Victoria and provide much-needed data to inform future conservation actions.” 

EnviroDNA director Dr Andrew Weeks says eDNA testing enables the detection of wildlife at an unprecedented scale. 

Overhead shot of platypus swimming though still water

Fast facts about platypuses

The platypus is one of the world’s most unusual creatures:

  • Platypuses have duck-like bills, webbed feet, a furry body and paddle-shaped tail
  • The bill – equipped with special receptors – is its primary sense organ and helps it locate small prey   
  • Mating normally takes place between August and October in Victoria, and they usually grow to a weight of about 1.5 kilograms
  • Platypuses are among the few venomous mammals, with males having a spur on the back of their hind feet. The venom can cause swelling and pain to people
  • With platypuses threatened by Australia's worsening droughts and bushfires, people anywhere can also help just by reducing their carbon footprints and engaging in climate action

To find out more about what we’re doing, or help us tackle climate change and restore biodiversity, become a member or contact us on 1300 242 829 or via email.

427 South Rd, Bentleigh 
VIC 3204 Australia

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In the spirit of reconciliation Carbon Landscapes acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
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