The Ross Trust is thrilled to be playing a vital role in the Great Australian Platypus Search, which has begun in Victoria as one of the largest citizen scientist projects in the world.
The project, which launched in August 2021, means ecologists will be able for the first time to map the state’s platypuses – with the aim of saving our unique species from extinction.
The Ross Trust this year approved a grant of $200,000 over two years for the innovative project, which involves community members collecting water samples from sites across the state. The 2000 samples will be sent to the EnviroDNA lab in Melbourne for analysis and mapping.
Environmental DNA technology – or eDNA - is a revolution in conservation. Through one easy water sample, ecologists can detect every type of animal in that location.
The project is being led by Odonata, a not-for-profit organisation that supports biodiversity and conservation efforts in Australia.
The Ross Trust CEO Sarah Hardy said the search was a fun and fulfilling way for the community to be involved in conservation.
“The Great Australian Platypus Search is the perfect project for the Ross Trust to support given our vision to create social and environmental change,” she said.
“The past 18 months have been very challenging for Victorians, and this is a wonderful way for people to do something positive and know they are helping this unique species survive and thrive.”
Odonata Foundation CEO Sam Marwood says Odonata was committed to connecting people to nature to end extinction of native animals.
“Earlier this year the platypus was classified by the Victorian Government as a threatened species for the first time in history, so species distribution is urgently needed,” Mr Marwood said.
“The platypus is one of the most biologically unique species in the world, so this is a vitally important subject in the study of evolutionary biology, both in Australia and globally.
“We’re very grateful to The Ross Trust for its generous support to help save this unique species.”
The project is gathering data in Victoria during the 2021 platypus breeding season, which generally runs from August to the end of October.