Want to Save Echidnas? Take a Picture of their Poo

How is an app helping researchers save our endangered Echidnas?

Aussie scientists are employing our help to collect “scats” and take photographs to gather more information about our echidnas, in an effort to combat extinction on Kangaroo Island. Professor Frank Grutzner from the University of Adelaide, explains:

"They're probably the most widespread mammal in Australia. They inhabit deserts, rainforests, and the alpine regions, but we still lack a fundamental understanding of how many animals there are, where they are and what they're doing,"

Unfortunately, as Professor Grutzner explains the animal is now listed as endangered on Kangaroo Island and researchers want to understand why.

The app, EchidnaCSI is designed for Aussies to snap pictures of echidna scat (poo) with the exact location they were photographed and a brief description of the scat/ location or echidna.

Researchers will then take this information, assess it, and document it so echidna populations can be better surveyed and monitored.

"It's actually quite amazing what information you can gather from poo samples," Professor Grutzner said.

"It will contain DNA from the animals eaten by the echidna itself, whether it was looking for a mate, or has been stressed."

According to professor Grutzner, there will be information to teach Aussies just how to identify different poo samples.

An echidna’s poo is usually made up of ant and insect skeletons which are visible in the material.

It might not sound very attractive, but it's an absolute goldmine looking at scat samples.

The project, explains echidna expert Dr. Peggy Rismller, is important for the survival of echidnas on Kangaroo Island, whose numbers have been declining due to cars, habitat change and feral animals.

Dr. Rismiller warns, these same threats face echidnas on the mainland as well:

We have documented that numbers are declining in many parts of Australia and we need more information, that's why this project is so important.

Those who wish to join the effort and help echidnas, the EchidnasCSI app can be downloaded from the App Store and Google play.

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