We live in a world where seeing is believing and time is money but try telling that to a Platypus...
During November, Mid Lachlan Landcare were part of the Central Tableland's contingent participating in The Great Australian Wildlife Search sponsored by environmental research charity Odonata.
Our target species was the Platypus and for this survey, rather than relying on our own five senses, we were equip with cutting-edge technology in the shape of eDNA collection kits.
To say we were excited was an understatement!
'E", or 'environmental' DNA sampling uses the presence of genetic markers shed by the target species into their surrounds to confirm their presence in an area.
As any true-crime fan will know, we shed and transfer DNA all the time and while not entirely fool-proof, DNA profiling is arguably the strongest evidence we have when it comes to confirming identity.
While the results aren't in yet, we're keeping our fingers crossed that we'll detected shed DNA from Platypus faeces, mucous, gametes, skin or hair in some of the samples we collected.
Shed DNA remains viable for up to 14 days depending on the weather and water conditions making one water sample as good as two weeks of continual watching and waiting.
Not only does this technology broaden the window we have for 'seeing' our target species, it also provides us with the gold-standard science-backed evidence favoured by governments and large conservation organisations.
According to EnviroDNA, the company who produce the test kits, the Great Australian Wildlife Search we participated in is the largest systematic investigation of platypuses ever undertaken and one that has been made possible thanks to Australia's growing interest in Citizen Science.
In addition to the scientific value this technology brings, eDNA makes environmental surveying more time-efficient and accessible.
As such Mid Lachlan Landcare are keen to add eDNA testing into future projects wherever funding and opportunity permits.
Mid Lachlan Landcare covers Wyangala, Canowindra, Gooloogong and Cowra.
More information regarding the group's activities can be fouind on the Facebook page and website midlachlandcare.org