Echidnas are one of Australia’s much loved and iconic native critters, but scientists don’t actually know much about how these little animals behave in the wild. To change this, researchers from the University of Adelaide are calling for your help.
The Echidna Conservation Science Initiative, or EchidnaCSI have launched an app to make it easy for citizen scientists to play an important role in uncovering the secrets of the echidna’s way of life. To play your part, all you have to do is keep an eye out for echidnas around your home and in your community.
They tend to pop up unexpectedly in backyards and on walking tracks, and researchers need you to be on the look out to upload pictures and details about their location and the surrounding environment. If you’re keen to take it to the next level, researchers on the project are also asking people to log echidna scats, bag them and post them to the University to be analysed.
The teams hopes that the DNA and hormones found in the scats will lead to answers about what the animals are eating and what kind of environment they’re living in among other significant details.
Echidnas are fascinating in that they are found living in a remarkably diverse range of habitats across the country. They, along with the platypus, are the oldest surviving mammal and have been spotted everywhere from deserts and rainforests to alpine snow regions.
However, population numbers are dropping and the species is now listed as endangered.
With your help, we can finally learn more about these iconic creatures and better our efforts to ensure their conservation for generations to come. You can download the EchidnaCSI app on the App Store or on Google Play.
Sarah Condie is a freelance writer based in Melbourne.
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