Working together to protect waterways

On a dry hot summer day last Wednesday, citizen scientists, government agencies, landcare and a platypus ecologist worked together collecting water samples from 20 sites along the Coliban and Campaspe Rivers.
The focus of the day was to identify critical refuge areas where platypus can survive during the dry periods. Last Wednesday the lack of water in the two rivers systems was obvious. Some pools that had water flowing through them just two weeks ago were now isolated.
The citizen scientists were helping the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network gather data for their Platypus Project, a collaboration between platypus ecologist Josh Griffiths from EnviroDNA and the UCLN. The project aims to collect valuable data by testing the water samples for platypus DNA to paint a clearer picture of where the elusive animals exist.
Nick Layne, project manager for NCCMA’s Healthy Coliban Catchment, was one of many helping to collect samples on the day.
“This is a fantastic project to get community members out and actively involved in learning about their beautiful local waterways,” he said.
“Our waterways contain very important plants and animals such as the enigmatic platypus.
“By building a greater knowledge of our river systems we are better able to make strategic management decisions to improve their health.
“It’s great there is such a strong partnership with this project between students, community groups, landcare, local landowners and government agencies.”
Local landholder Kerry Connoley enthusiastically embraced the role of citizen scientist for the day.
“I’ve learnt a lot about river habitat,” she said.
“As a landowner on the Campaspe, I’m interested in learning about what we can do to rejuvenate the habitat along the river for the platypus and other creatures.
“I have an interest in research and understanding what best practice river management looks like, so it was great to be involved today.”
Fifty more sites will be tested along the two rivers in spring during the platypus breeding season.

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