The platypus is unique, iconic and certainly elusive; its
reliance on fresh, flowing water habitat makes spotting it a challenge. But if you’re up for an early morning or late evening walk not far from Brisbane, you may just be lucky enough to see one!
My name is Tamielle Brunt and I’m an Honours student from the University of Queensland. With financial support from Wildlife Queensland, I have been lucky enough to study these amazing creatures, identifying key habitat attributes which influence platypus distribution along Moggill Creek, west Brisbane. While the species’ high dependence on freshwater ecosystems for food and shelter makes it difficult to study, it is vital we gain a better understanding of the secretive platypus for the sake of its ongoing survival.
With the help of dedicated volunteers I have gained observational data determining the presence or absence of platypuses at 33 sites along Moggill. From 4 to 20 April 2015, volunteers observed sites for one hour, morning and afternoon, for three consecutive days. Over this period, 10 sightings of platypuses were recorded, with most being observed around the Huntington Estate at Brookfield and Kenmore Hills.
Key habitat attributes assessed included water depth, consolidated and undercut banks, presence of large woody debris to forage around, overhanging vegetation, amount of native or invasive vegetation, and certain particle sizes through which the platypus sifts its bill to obtain food. Also assessed was the availability of macroinvertebrate food items on the bottom of the creek such as insect larvae and crustaceans.
The data collected will be analysed and compared to determine which attributes are important for platypus survival; information which can then be used for conservation and land management around the Moggill Creek catchment to limit any further deterioration of platypus populations and creek health.
By Tamielle Brunt