The Platypus is a semi-aquatic animal, historically present in waterways throughout much of Victoria. In 2021, this species was listed as vulnerable in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, in recognition of its decline in distribution and abundance in the last 30 years.
Platypus tend to occur in areas that have stable banks for burrowing, intact streamside vegetation, aquatic invertebrates for food, complex aquatic habitats (including woody structures), and reliable water flows. The species is threatened by a range of human activities, mostly related to changes in land use and waterway condition. Populations can become fragmented because of instream barriers (e.g. weirs, dams), reduced surface water, and poor habitat quality; this can lead to an increased risk of local extinctions after events such as floods and bushfires.
ARI is working with other teams in DELWP, the Australian Platypus Conservancy, several catchment management authorities (CMAs) and local communities to increase our understanding of threats and improve Platypus habitat. Efforts include:
- Contribution to a Platypus Management Plan.
- An analysis of threats to the species, by creating a statewide threat map so that managers can focus management efforts at the highest priority sites. This will determine how threats like climate change, water availability and quality, and riverbank condition can impact populations.
- Assessments and mapping of instream barriers across Victoria.
- Restoration of instream and streamside habitats in fire-affected areas on the Tambo River by the East Gippsland CMA, along with assessments of Platypus eDNA, habitat and food sources.
- Revegetation of streamside areas and construction of ‘log jams’ (a complex array of wood secured into the creek bed/bank) in fire-affected areas of the Upper Murray (Cudgewa and Nariel creeks) by the North East CMA. These log jams help reduce bank erosion, encourage creation of pools and low velocity refuges, and act as refuge areas to hide from predators.
- Revegetation of streamside areas and installation of logs and rootballs instream at Grange Burn near Hamilton by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA. An online livestream camera called Platycam has been installed at the site to stream footage of this notoriously shy animal. View the livestream on the Glenelg Hopkins CMA website.
Funding for these actions has been provided by DELWP as well as the federal government, through regional bushfire recovery.
DELWP recently contributed funding to the Great Australian Platypus search, which involves citizen scientists collecting eDNA samples from over 1,500 selected sampling sites on waterways across Victoria. The results of the 2021 search are available via this link.
Page last updated: 07/07/23