HELP MONITOR PLATYPUS IN NORTH EAST VICTORIA
Do you want to help monitor platypus numbers as part of an exciting project that seeks to conserve this iconic species?
North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is working in partnership with the Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC) to launch an innovative new program that will use citizen science to keep track of local platypus numbers.
The APC has now expanded existing monitoring efforts by launching the Australian Platypus Monitoring Network (APMN). A dedicated website and app provide training for volunteers and facilitate immediate uploading of sightings records in the field. Participants will also be able to obtain personalised feedback about their own results.
APC Biologist Geoff Williams said the platypus is an excellent indicator of the environmental qualities of our waterways.
"Considerable work is being undertaken by CMAs, other agencies and community groups to rehabilitate waterways and habitats," he said. "Getting the local community involved in monitoring platypus numbers will be a great way of helping the species".
"It doesn’t take a huge time commitment - you don’t have to watch for platypus every day; once or twice a week is fine on average, though you can certainly look more often if you want. "
A standard monitoring session requires just 5-10 minutes of observation time at each site. Many APMN participants fit their platypus scanning sessions into other day-to-day activities, such as taking regular walks for exercise, biking to and from work, or checking a stock pump. Volunteers who are able to monitor on their private land are particularly welcome and they are able specify that their site is restricted and not open to use by other observers.
Research conducted by the APC over the past decade has demonstrated that standardised visual monitoring can very effectively describe how local platypus populations vary through time. The basic method is simple: trained volunteers visit fixed monitoring sites at frequent intervals to record the number of platypus observed. Crucially, they keep track of both when animals are seen and when they are not. This allows the frequency of sightings – the average number of animals seen per site-visit – to be calculated as an index of platypus activity which, in turn, can be used to plot population trends.
For those who cannot monitor on a regular basis reporting a ‘one-off’ sighting is still of great value. Platypus reports can be submitted via the Conservancy website www.platypus.asn.au . Reports of sightings of the Australian water-rat/rakali are also welcome.
Platypus experts from the Australian Platypus Conservancy will be presenting free information sessions about platypus conservation and training sessions on how to monitor platypus on the following days:
• Myrtleford: Platypus information session and training walk* – Thursday 23 May 2pm at Myrtleford Library, Standish St, Myrtleford.
• Wodonga: o Platypus talk (following World Turtle Day information session) – Thursday 23 May 6.30pm at Wodonga TafeSpace, 158 Lawrence St (behind Library) (light supper provided)
o Training walk *– Friday 24 May, 7 am at Carpark beside Hothouse Theatre, Lincoln Causeway, Wodonga