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Can the platypus save our rivers? Lessons from across Australia

Tuesday 5th Dec 2023 3:30PM - 5:30PM



The Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is a truly unique animal that is fascinating to scientists and nature enthusiasts alike. Since colonisation, we have had limited insights into our impact on their distribution and abundance. However, the recent advent of environmental DNA analysis provides us with a non-invasive way to uncover if platypus are present in our local waterways.

The platypus is a true marvel of nature. Apart from being one of only two monotreme (egg laying mammal) species left in the world, the male platypus has a venomous spur on its back legs, they fluoresce under UV light, and they have many intriguing adaptive features that have allowed them to live in freshwater streams.

As we further urbanise we are impacting on their habitat, changing both the flow dynamics and water quality, which, in turn, affects their food supply – aquatic macroinvertebrates.

This webinar has hand-picked case studies from across South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales where the elusive platypus is driving change in waterway management. Come along and hear about some fascinating research on the good and bad impacts of urbanisation, the desire to re-introduce platypus back to the River Torrens in South Australia, and how Victoria is using smart water tanks to improve platypus habitat, when they need it most.

This webinar is presented as part of the National WSUD Community of Practice webinar series.


How to Register

Please register for this webinar in advance: via MS Teams.

Don’t forget to invite your friends, family and colleagues to join this webinar and delve into the world of the platypus.


Meet our speakers

Dr Michelle Ryan - Western Sydney University

Join us as Dr. Michelle Ryan introduces us to the Platypus and shares what makes these creatures so fascinating. She'll also reveal her ground-breaking research on the impacts of urbanization on Platypus populations in Western Sydney.

Dr Tamielle Brunt - Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland 

Dr. Tamielle Brunt will enlighten us on the fascinating world of environmental DNA (eDNA) and its role in detecting cryptic species. Her presentation will focus on the PlatypusWatch eDNA project, a collaborative effort with local councils now in its eighth year. Learn what eDNA is, how it has been used to monitor Platypus, and its influence on waterway management. 

Dr Rhys Coleman - Melbourne Water 

Rhys Coleman will take us on a journey through two decades of Platypus data and more recent eDNA findings, that were used to inform habitat suitability modelling for Platypus in Monbulk Creek, shedding light on the pressures on this isolated population. You'll also learn about the innovative concept of smart water tanks in the area. 

Dr Liberty Olds – Green Adelaide, Department for Environment and Water

Dr Liberty Olds will discuss Green Adelaide’s vision of reintroducing platypus into the River Torrens / Karrawirra Pari. Current analysis suggests that due to significant restoration efforts, the once highly degraded river system may now be able to support the reintroduction of platypus.  

Daniel Rhodes - City of Hobart 

Daniel Rhodes is on a mission to drive a cultural shift in how we think about our waterways, transforming them from mere stormwater conveyance into thriving Platypus habitats. He'll share insights into the community support stemming from the documentary 'The Platypus Guardian' and the social media page dedicated to these unique creatures.  

Tim Allen – Director of the Federal Urban Rivers & Catchments Program 

Tim Allen will provide a brief presentation on the Australian Government’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program, including the 2023 competitive grant opportunity.This program is restoring the health of our urban waterways for native plants, animals, and local communities. Projects funded will help conserve native animals including the platypus.   


Delivered in partnership with the National WSUD Community of Practice - building capacity in integrated water management. Clearwater acknowledges our valued partners: Blacktown City Council, Derwent Estuary Program, New WAter Ways, Sydney Water, Healthy Land & Water and Water Sensitive SA. 

Contact us at info@clearwatervic.gov.au if you have any questions or need further information.