FOCUS SPECIES

Platypus

Conservation status: Threatened

Banner image, Platypus. Photo by Doug Gimesy

Odonata’s work with the platypus was born from an announcement in early 2021 that the Victorian government was changing the conservation status of this iconic species, classifying it as threatened for the first time in history. In response to this announcement, Odonata partnered with leaders in environmental-DNA (eDNA) research, EnviroDNA, to establish the Great Australian Platypus Search.

This project focused on engaging citizen scientists across Victoria to collect important eDNA data that will have the ability map the distribution in this species across the state, and thus act as an important first step to reversing platypus population decline. This data has never been used on this scale before, and Odonata’s work to support diminishing platypus populations developed this project into one of the biggest citizen science projects in the world.

The platypus is a notoriously elusive animal and thanks to eDNA testing and the Great Australian Platypus Search we will have access to data on its location, including previously unknown refuge areas, that has never been seen before. The platypus is an Australian icon and an important indigenous species for many Traditional Owner groups, and this project was a significant step in protecting this unique species and the Australian waterways it calls home for many years to come.