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The Great Australian Platypus Search – Lismore
September 21, 2021 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pmFree
The largest citizen scientist project in Australia’s history, The Great Australian Platypus Search, will officially launch in August in a crucial first step to reversing platypus population decline. Earlier this year, the unique and iconic species was listed as threatened in Victoria for the first time sparking the inspiration for this project.
In response, the Odonata Foundation proposed a state-wide survey in Victoria during the 2021 platypus breeding season (August-October). This project will map the entire distribution of platypuses throughout Victorian waterways to inform future management solutions to elevate its status from threatened. To fund the project, Odonata asked for support from the Victorian Government, World Wildlife Fund Australia, philanthropists, and the Victorian community and has since received an overwhelming response, enabling the project to be rolled out in Victoria this year.
Starting in Victoria this August, the search will be completed using innovative environmental DNA technology that will detect the DNA a species has left behind in its environment. Key project partner EnviroDNA has developed a robust and simple eDNA sampling methodology that citizen scientists, including school students, children and community groups can undertake with limited training or experience.
Water samples from more than 2000 sites across Victoria will be collected by citizen scientists and then analysed in the EnviroDNA lab. This data will not be limited to platypus populations but will actually allow scientists to determine distributions of all aquatic vertebrates over large spatial scales. eDNA gathering on this scale has never been seen before in Australia, and potentially the world, making this one of the most significant citizen science projects in history.