Bushfire Recovery Project
Monitoring and recovering platypuses in bushfire-affected regions of South East Queensland
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About this project
In 2021, Wildlife Queensland’s PlatypusWatch was a successful recipient of grant funding under the Australian government’s Bushfire Recovery for Wildlife and their Habitats program. The overarching federal government program made $750,000 available to seven platypus conservation programs to support species recovery in regions destroyed by the 2019—2020 fires, including parts of South East Queensland.
PlatypusWatch has used this funding to:
- develop an eDNA project to survey fire-impacted waterways across the south-east and to determine the impacts of bushfires on platypus populations. Sixty sites are to be sampled and sent to Melbourne-based EnviroDNA for analysis: 30 in unburnt control areas and 30 in bushfire-affected areas to determine the level of baseline decline in platypus occupancy across sub-catchments.
- work with local groups during two community workshops to engage residents, share valuable knowledge about platypuses throughout the region, and facilitate ongoing eDNA and observational surveys.
- develop citizen science macroinvertebrate surveys in the region to ascertain the quality of platypus food sources at select sample sites. Aquatic macroinvertebrates are an important platypus food source and a biological indicator of freshwater waterway health. The National Waterbug Blitz detailed assessment was used to gauge species diversity.
Unfortunately, the wet weather in the first half of 2022 disrupted fieldwork planned for February. Project Officer Tamielle Brunt was set to begin at Upper Coomera River, moving to Canungra Creek and across the Scenic Rim to Mount Barney. An extension to the sampling, to September 2022, was provided as a result of early flooding rains. Sample collection resumed in June 2022.
Workshops for the project were held at Canungra, Mulgowie and Mt Barney and focused on the importance of aquatic waterway health and the ease of citizen scientists getting involved in eDNA testing.
Waterbug Blitz Workshop
Tamielle sorts waterbugs
Testing the water at Mulgowie
Waterbug Blitz participants
Whether using eDNA to get a better understanding of which waterways platypuses are inhabiting, educating citizen scientists and community members so they better understand platypus ecology and threats, or funding ongoing surveying and monitoring that can forecast potential declines in populations, all of these measures inform decision-making about platypus conservation within communities, local councils, state government and the nation at large.
Once genetic data is analysed, the PlatypusWatch projects team works with Brisbane-based geospatial and statistical analysis consultancy BioGeo to collate data from sightings and eDNA detection and map out platypus distribution, gaining a better understanding of population dynamics for the species throughout Queensland.
How you can help
If you spot a platypus, report it by clicking the button at the top of the page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also like to Adopt a Platypus for a year to help fund ongoing conservation efforts.
To learn more about our projects and get involved with citizen science surveys and activities that support platypus conservation, please join PlatypusWatch.
- Six regions eDNA sampled where 2019/20 bushfires have impacted areas of national park.
- 17 sites detected platypus presence out of the 60 sites sampled
- Macroinvertebrate surveys were conducted at 12 sites.
- Waterway health scores ranged from 4.9 to 7.1 with an average of 5.7. This corresponds to mild pollution across the region.
- Discerning the impacts of bushfires upon platypus populations is difficult, especially 2 years on from the initial impact and with little baseline platypus population data to compare.
Partners & sponsors
Since the launch of PlatypusWatch (previously known as PlatypusCare) in 2003, many groups, individuals and institutions have supported us and worked with us to embrace platypus surveys, monitoring and research. Some of those are listed below.