Short Virtual Presentation & Digital Poster 10th Australian Stream Management Conference 2021

The use of citizen scientists to confirm the presence of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) in north-west Sydney (#18)

Michelle M Ryan 1 , Katherine G Morrison 1
  1. Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW, Australia
  • Platypuses are an elusive, iconic Australian species. While they have been traditionally hunted for their fur in the 21st century they face a number of threats including drought, pollution and like many other Australian natives, habitat loss from urbanisation. Sydney is undergoing rapid urbanisation and expansion. The population of platypus in Sydney is not well studied, documented and poorly understood. The aim of this project was to firstly, confirm the presence of platypus in the increasingly urbanised Cattai and Little Cattai catchment in north-west Sydney and secondly reinvigorate community excitement with regards to waterway health using the platypus as an umbrella species.
  • Working with a local volunteer community environment group, Cattai Hills Environment Network, a media campaign was conducted for the wider community to identify possible ‘hotspots’ which resulted in the mapping of 18 sample sites.
  • Community members were recruited as citizen scientists to conduct simple environmentalDNA (eDNA) sampling over a weekend in June 2020. Samples at 8 out of the 18 sites contained platypus DNA which confirmed the presence of platypus in the north-west of Sydney.
  • Using citizen scientists to be a part of this project, to take ownership in collecting data and contributing to the project allowed the community to connect with the waterways. Such experiences often leads to an increase in environmental advocacy and education to protect it. This project could be adapted more broadly, not only for platypus in Sydney, but as a template of a successful citizen scientists project.
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