An extra hardy bunch of volunteers braved temperatures as low as -8oC to survey Platypus at Scottsdale Reserve during August! The surveys are part of Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch’s regional 'Platypuswatch' program, using the group survey method of the Australian Platypus Conservancy (APC). A big thank-you from Waterwatch to Scottsdale Reserve Manager Phil Palmer and the steely volunteers that took part in this year's surveys.
Surveys have been carried out at Scottsdale for the past six years and will help us to better understand population trends in the region.
This year’s results found that Platypus numbers were down from the previous two years, and this was consistent with results of the other Upper Murrumbidgee Platypuswatch surveys across the region.
The survey results are also consistent with a recent APC analysis showing a direct correlation between rainfall, flows and platypus activity as described in this excerpt below from the APC’s Platypus News and Views, Issue 73.
“In particular, Platypus population data for both the Shoalhaven River in NSW and urban streams near Melbourne indicate that more youngsters are likely to appear in summers following relatively wet autumns and winters as compared to in drier periods.
This pattern is believed to reflect a generally positive effect of stream and river flow on Platypus food supplies and hence female fat reserves: plenty of flow in autumn and winter provides the right conditions for aquatic macro-invertebrates to thrive, and well-fed females are more likely to mate in the following spring.
Based on the above... overall platypus activity in the spring breeding season (and hence the number of sightings made during daylight hours) should follow the same pattern: more sightings should be recorded in those springs that follow relatively wet autumn-winter periods.”
Conversely, in drier periods it follows that Platypus breeding and activity decreases and this was reflected in our surveys.
Volunteers also noted that Platypus seemed very wary and shy this year, perhaps reflecting increased activity and focus of all animals (including predators such as foxes) on the shrinking water sources in our catchments.
There we have it folks - the drought truly does affect everyone!
Please note: Photos in this blog post are supplied by volunteer and wildlife photographer extraodinare Richard Taylor. They're not to be reused or repurposed without permission. You can follow Richard @RichardTaylorPhotography on Instagram and Flickr.