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Platypus Population in Reservoir A: A Vital Ecosystem Under Threat

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Australia's iconic platypus, an enigmatic and ancient creature, is a testament to the country's unique biodiversity. Recently, a comprehensive survey of platypus populations was conducted in Reservoir A, a key area within the proposed Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project. This survey, carried out by dedicated community volunteers, Robyn Burns and an anonymous counterpart, revealed significant findings that underscore the importance of protecting this remarkable species and its habitat.



Survey Methodology and Limitations


The platypus count in Reservoir A was conducted over several two-hour periods during dawn and dusk, spanning from June 29th to August 1st, 2023. It's essential to note that platypus exhibit a hierarchical feeding pattern and a solitary lifestyle, particularly among males. Their territories often overlap, leading them to feed at different times to avoid encounters with other platypuses. This significantly influences the accuracy of population counts resulting in a smaller count number than the overall population.


Out of the seven properties comprising Reservoir A, only three were surveyed with the property owners' consent and access granted via Dalrymple Road. The limited survey area raises a crucial caveat that the reported platypus population is likely an underestimate, given the platypus's solitary nature and the fact that only a portion of Reservoir A was surveyed. Therefore, the actual platypus population in the entire Reservoir A area could be substantially higher.


Survey Findings: A Stronghold for Platypus Habitats


Despite these constraints, the data gathered during the survey still provides valuable insights. The research identified 31 individual platypus within Reservoir A, a compelling indication of a substantial platypus population. Based on this count within the area surveyed, and taking into account the complex behaviour of platypus in overlapping territories, the true platypus population within Reservoir A is estimated to exceed 200 individuals, making it a stronghold for this unique and vulnerable species.


These findings are significant for several reasons. Firstly, they underscore the vital role that Reservoir A plays in supporting platypus populations. This reaffirms the importance of preserving the region's ecological integrity and safeguarding it from large-scale projects that could disrupt these vital habitats. Furthermore, the platypus survey in Reservoir A aligns with broader community-backed research initiatives, such as the Australian Conservation Foundation and Wildlife Queensland's Platy-project, highlighting the need for comprehensive data collection and advocacy for platypus conservation.


In conclusion, the platypus population in Reservoir A stands as a symbol of Australia's unique natural heritage. The data gathered through community-driven research emphasises the urgency of protecting these habitats and ensuring that large-scale projects consider the potential ecological impacts. The Save Eungella community remains committed to safeguarding this remarkable species and its environment.


References

1. Animalia.bio. (2019). [Platypus - Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures] (https://animalia.bio/platypus).

2. IELC LibGuides. (2023). [Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding] (https://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/platypus/diet).

3. The Duck-Billed Platypus - WordPress.com. (2014). [Ecological Niche] (https://theduckbilledplatypus.wordpress.com/ecological-niche/).

4. Australian Museum. (2001). [Platypus - The Australian Museum] (https://australian.museum/learn/animals/mammals/platypus/).

5. Scientific Reports - Nature. (2020). [Platypus predation has differential effects on aquatic invertebrates in contrasting stream and lake ecosystems] (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-69957-1).

6. IELC LibGuides. (2023). [Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History] (https://ielc.libguides.com/sdzg/factsheets/platypus/taxonomy).

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