Help to solve an echidna mystery

Find: The University of Adelaide is looking to discover more about the echidna with the help of locals and the community.
Find: The University of Adelaide is looking to discover more about the echidna with the help of locals and the community.

University of Adelaide researchers are asking for public help to better understand the echidna, by collecting their scats and photographing wherever they are spotted.

Researchers have launched the project to address questions about echidna numbers and distribution.

Echidna CSI researchers have developed a dedicated mobile phone app for instant upload of photos and location, and input of details of information.

Professor Frank Grutzner has been researching the monotreme for more than 15 years.

““Echidnas, and their fellow monotreme, the platypus, are the oldest surviving mammals,” he said.

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

“Echidnas occupy all sorts of environments across Australia and have successfully adapted to habitats ranging from deserts, rainforests to alpine snow regions.”

Professor Grutzner wants people who see echidnas, even if it is their backyard, to help tag them using the phone app.

People can log the scats, then bag and post them to the University for analysis.

Biological science student Tahlia Perry is trying to develop tool to better understand the echidnas and their conservation.

“By analysing DNA and hormones we will be able to find out a lot more about the echidna, for example what it’s eating, and the sort of environment it’s living in, if it is a male or female, if they are breeding or being stressed,” she said.

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

For more information and links to the app visit http://grutznerlab.weebly.com/echidna-csi.html