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Can you help Echidna CSI?

Echidnas are iconic egg-laying mammals that can be found anywhere in Australia. In order to gain more information about their distribution and biology and to help their conservation we established the Echidna Conservation Science Initiative (EchidnaCSI) at the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute.

With EchidnaCSI we encourage the public to take photos of echidnas through a dedicated app and to collect echidna scats for molecular analysis of their diet and gastric health. This work is important as echidnas are in decline due to:

  • habitat loss
  • feral cats
  • roadkill
  • the Kangaroo Island population now listed as endangered.

Over the past 2.5 years thousands of participants recorded more than 8,000 echidna sightings and collected over 400 echidna scats (as of March 2020). This is the largest dataset and material collected by any project for echidnas and is providing valuable information on wild populations’ habitat, diet and health.

 

Dr Peggy Rismiller observing echidna foraging for food in bushfire affected area.

We are keen to use our EchidnaCSI project to monitor and investigate the effects of fires on echidnas and aid in rehabilitation. The Kangaroo Island bushfires have devastated much of the island and in places, burnt with unprecedented intensity. Despite this, echidnas have been observed in the burnt areas shortly after the fires.

Echidna located in bushfire affected area on Kangaroo Island.

We're interested in the diet of echidnas in the burnt areas and how this affects their health. This gives us insights into what insect species are present after burning. In this community-based project, we have the opportunity to perform both field and molecular research to investigate how echidnas are affected by the environmental change and their role in the recovery process.

Where will my donation will go?

By donating to EchidnaCSI you will be aiding important research into echidna conservation, particularly Kangaroo Island post-fire recovery. Donation funds will go towards costs associated with molecular lab work, field work and increasing functionality of the EchidnaCSI app.

Molecular analysis of scat samples will investigate diet and health of echidnas, where results will be published in peer reviewed journals and benefit our understanding of the fire recovery and if the echidnas health is affected by feeding in burnt areas. It will also provide information about the presence of insect and fungal species in the burnt areas.

Find out more about the EchidnaCSI project. We appreciate your support in this vital research.

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The mystery unfolds...

Fresh echidna scat found in bushfire affected area on Kangaroo Island.

Checking on the welfare of echidnas

Miss Tahlia Perry visits a juvenile, captive echidna.