Cit­i­zen sci­en­tists wanted to help solve echidna mys­ter­ies

Wangaratta Chronicle - - News -

NORTH East res­i­dents are be­ing called on to help bet­ter un­der­stand and con­serve our iconic na­tive echidna, by col­lect­ing echidna scats (poo) and tak­ing pho­to­graphs wher­ever echid­nas or scats are spot­ted.

Univer­sity of Ade­laide re­searchers are launch­ing a new cit­i­zen science project to ad­dress im­por­tant ques­tions about echidna num­bers and dis­tri­bu­tion and to ob­tain ma­te­rial for molec­u­lar anal­y­sis.

The Echidna Con­ser­va­tion Science Ini­tia­tive or Echid­naCSI re­searchers have de­vel­oped a ded­i­cated mo­bile phone app for in­stant up­load of pho­tos and lo­ca­tion, and in­put of de­tails of the im­me­di­ate en­vi­ron­ment and the state, size and ac­tiv­ity of the echidna.

The re­searchers would also like peo­ple to use the app to log the scats, then bag and post them to the univer­sity re­search team for molec­u­lar anal­y­sis.

“Echid­nas, and their fel­low monotreme the platy­pus, are the old­est sur­viv­ing mam­mals,” Pro­fes­sor Frank Grutzner, who has been lead­ing re­search in monotremes for the past 15 years, said.

“But sur­pris­ingly we know very lit­tle about these iconic an­i­mals that fea­ture on our coins.”

Data and ma­te­rial col­lected through the Echid­naCSI project will help de­velop molec­u­lar tools to bet­ter un­der­stand these an­i­mals and help echidna con­ser­va­tion.

The app can be found on the App Store and on Google Play.

More de­tails and links to the app can be found at http://grutzn­er­lab. wee­bly.com/echidna-csi.html.

YOU CAN HELP: Re­searchers are seek­ing help fron the pub­lic to bet­ter un­der­stand echid­nas.

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