|Scientific Name:||Ornithorhynchus anatinus|
|Species Authority:||(Shaw, 1799)|
Platypus anatinus Shaw, 1799
|Red List Category & Criteria:||Near Threatened ver 3.1|
|Assessor(s):||Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A.|
|Contributor(s):||Menkhorst, P., Grant, T., Dickman, C., Lunney, D., Serena, M., Gust, N. & Copley, P.|
The Platypus has an extensive range and a large population size that precludes eligibility under criteria B, C and D. However, an overall decline can be inferred and projected from information from a small set of monitoring programs and suspected from threats directly affecting this species and its habitat. This decline is inconsistent across its range, and the overall rate of decline is poorly defined, but is likely to approach but not exceed >30% over a 27-36 year (=three generation) period.
|Previously published Red List assessments:|
|Range Description:||The Platypus is endemic to Australia, where it is dependent on rivers, streams, and bodies of freshwater. It is present in eastern Queensland and New South Wales, in eastern, central, and south-western Victoria, throughout Tasmania, and on King Island. An introduced population is established at the western end of Kangaroo Island (Carrick et al. 2008). Its occurrence is reasonably continuous within some catchments, but discontinuous in others (e.g., the Bega River catchment in New South Wales; Lunney et al. 2008), and in many catchments its actual distribution is poorly known. In Victoria, fewer than 200 individuals occupy the Wimmera-Avon River basin (distributed over an area of >2,400,000 ha), and the species appears to have recently become extinct in the neighbouring Avoca River basin (Australian Platypus Conservancy, unpublished data) (T. Grant, S. Munks, F. Carrick, and M. Serena pers. comm. 2014). The species now appears to be extinct also from its former range in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Lofty Ranges in South Australia.|
Native:Australia (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria)
|Range Map:||Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.|
Difficulties in reliably quantifying platypus abundance compromise estimation of population size and its trends (Gust and Griffiths 2009). There has been no robust assessment of the population size of the Platypus either nationwide or for the key states in the species’ geographic range. Lunney et al. (2008) stated that ‘It is a common species’, but noted that ‘in general there is a surprising lack of knowledge about its abundance’. Carrick et al. (2008) considered it ‘common (though rarely abundant)’ but regarded it as ‘potentially vulnerable due to its specialised dependence on established water bodies for food and shelter’. Grant and Temple-Smith (2003) noted that the current and future conservation status of the Platypus is not easily predicted since their abundance is not readily measured. Since abundance is difficult to determine, population trends are generally poorly defined and the impacts of particular threats have been suggested and inferred, but rarely rigorously demonstrated (Gust and Griffiths 2009).
|Current Population Trend:||Decreasing|
|Habitat and Ecology:||The Platypus is restricted to streams and suitable freshwater bodies, including some shallow water storage lakes and ponds (Carrick et al. 2008). Its food is almost exclusively benthic macroinvertebrates and so the species is water-dependent. Platypuses are largely solitary, and when not foraging in water they normally occupy a resting or nesting burrow in earth banks, although some individuals have been found resting in accumulated stream debris or in low dense vegetation. The species is seldom observed moving on land in mainland Australia, but is frequently seen out of the water in Tasmania, where its predator, the fox (Vulpes vulpes), has been introduced only relatively recently (T. Grant, S. Munks, F. Carrick, and M. Serena pers. comm. 2014). The breeding season varies widely depending on location. Females produce one to three eggs annually, but usually two (Carrick et al. 2008). Platypuses are long-lived animals (up to 20 years in the wild).|
|Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:||Yes|
|Generation Length (years):||9-12|
|Movement patterns:||Not a Migrant|
|Use and Trade:||Formerly (mostly before the 20th century) hunted for pelts; and this trade may have affected the status of some subpopulations (Burrell 1927; Grant and Denny 1991)|
|Major Threat(s):||Currently, the predominant threat to the species on the mainland is reduction in stream and river flows due to recent successive droughts, stream regulation, and extraction of water for agricultural, domestic, and industrial supplies. It is also at risk from the opposite extremes associated with climate change – extensive flooding both in space and time associated with recent tropical cyclones that have resulted in increased mortality and all but eliminated recruitment in 2006 over a substantial part of the species’ northern range. Habitat modification due to bank erosion and stream sedimentation (as a result of poor land management practices in agriculture, forestry, and urbanization) are also of great concern. In the case of urban streams, Platypus populations may be adversely affected by poor water quality (in the form of suspended solids and nutrient enrichment), contamination of sediment by heavy metals (Serena and Pettigrove 2005) and entanglement in or ingestion of plastic, rubber and metal litter. Accidental drowning in nets and traps set for fish and crustaceans has the potential to impact Platypus distribution and abundance in all parts of its range, especially in small streams where populations may be critically small. Populations in Tasmania are affected by mucormycosis (associated with the fungal pathogen Mucor amphibiorum) (Obendorf et al. 1993). Across its range, the Platypus is also subject to predation by the introduced Red Fox, dogs and cats.|
Conservation of the Platypus is limited to its listing as a legally protected species in all states in which it occurs and its incidental inclusion in some national parks and reserves. Legislation prohibiting or controlling problematic fishing activities has been enacted in New South Wales and Victoria, but regulations concerning illegal netting and trapping are often poorly enforced. The most widespread field monitoring program for the species is in Victoria (Australian Platypus Conservancy). There are also a few system-specific studies in other states and community-based reporting of anecdotal occurrences of the species to a variety of institutional and private databases. Still more information about population numbers and monitoring are crucial, especially for a long-lived species such as the Platypus where a lack of recruitment can be masked until a dramatic population crash occurs as adults reach the end of their lifespan.
Population studies of fragmented populations should be a research priority, together with studies to help verify the current distribution and baseline population parameters in areas where the species has declined (Grant and Temple-Smith 2003). Once the Platypus becomes extinct in a river system, the likelihood of its re-colonising that system without human intervention is minimal (T. Grant, S. Munks, F. Carrick, and M. Serena pers. comm. 2014). One reintroduction program is underway in a single fire-affected stream in Victoria (Australian Platypus Conservancy).
Some populations of Platypuses have exhibited antibodies to Leptospirosis, probably transmitted via cattle, but no clinical symptoms have been observed. Mortality from an ulcerative dermatitis caused by Mucor fungus, however, has been recorded across many river systems in Tasmania. There is currently limited investigation of this disease, which should be a research priority both in that state and on the mainland where the fungus is also found (T. Grant, S. Munks, F. Carrick, and M. Serena pers. comm. 2014).
Burrell, H. 1927. The Platypus. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
Carrick, F. N., Grant, T. R. and Temple-Smith, P. D. 2008. Platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus. In: S. Van Dyck and R. Strahan (eds), The mammals of Australia. Third Edition, pp. 32-35. Reed New Holland, Sydney, Australia.
Dickman, C. R. 1994. Native mammals of western New South Wales: past neglect, future rehabilitation? In: D. Lunney, S. Hand, P. Reed and D. Butcher (eds), Future of the fauna of western New South Wales, pp. 81-91. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman.
Furlan, E., Stoklosa, J., Griffiths, J., Gust, N., Ellis, R., Huggins, R. M., and Weeks, A. R. 2012. Small population size and extremely low levels of genetic diversity in island populations of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Ecology and Evolution 2: 844-857.
Gardner, J. L., and Serena, M. 1995. Spatial organisation and movement patterns of adult male platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchidae). Australian Journal of Zoology 43: 91-103.
Geraghty, D. P., Griffiths, J., Stewart, N., Robertson, I. K., and Gust, N. 2011. Hematological, plasma, biochemical, and other indicators of the health of Tasmanian platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus): predictors of mucormycosis. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 47: 483-493.
Grant, T. R. 1992. Historical and current distribution of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in Australia. In: M. L. Augee (ed.), Platypus and Echidnas, pp. 232-254. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Sydney.
Grant, T. R. 1993. The past and present freshwater fishery in New South Wales and the distribution and status of the Platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Australian Zoologist 29: 105-113.
Grant, T. R. 1998. Current and historical occurrence of platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) around Sydney. Australian Mammalogy 20: 257-266.
Grant, T. R. and Denny, M. J. S. 1991. Historical and current distribution of the Platypus in Australia, with guidelines for the management and conservation of the species. Report to Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service by Mt. King Ecological Surveys.
Grant, T. R. and Temple-Smith, P. D. 2003. Conservation of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus: Threats and challenges. Aquatic Health and Management 6: 1-15.
Grant, T. R., Gehrke, P. C., Harris, J. H., and Hartley, S. 2000. Distribution of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) in New South Wales: Results of the 1994-1996 New South Wales Rivers Survey. Australian Mammalogy 21: 177-184.
Griffiths, J., and Weeks, A. 2012. Distribution and relative abundance of platypuses in the Mackenzie River: survey results 2011/12. Report to Wimmera Catchment Management Authority. CESAR, Parkville.
Griffiths, J., Kelly, T., and Weeks, A. 2012. Distribution and relative abundance of platypuses in the greater Melbourne area: survey results 2011/12. Report to Melbourne Water. CESAR, Parkville.
Gust, N., and Griffiths, J. 2009. Platypus mucormycosis and its conservation implications. Australasian Mycologist 28: 1-8.
Gust, N., and Griffiths, J. 2010. Tasmanian Platypus management plan. State of Tasmania, Biodiversity Conservation Branch. Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, Hobart.
Gust, N., Griffiths, J., Driessen, M., Philips, A., Stewart, N., and Geraghty, D. 2009. Distribution, prevalence and persistence of mucormycosis in Tasmanian platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus). Australian Journal of Zoology 57: 245-254.
IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 30 June 2016).
Koch, N., Munks, S. A., Utesch, M., Davies, P. E., and McIntosh, P. D. 2006. The platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus in headwater streams, and effects of pre-Code forest clearfelling, in the South Esk River catchment, Tasmania, Australia. Australian Zoologist 33: 458-473.
Lunney, D., Dickman, C., Copley, P., Grant, T., Munks, S., Carrick, F., Serena, M., and Ellis, M. 2008. Ornithorhynchus anatinus. In 'The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species'. Version 2012.2. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 4 November 2012).
Obendorf, D. L., Peel, B. F., and Munday, B. L. 1993. Mucor amphibiorum infection in platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) from Tasmania. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 29: 485-487.
Rohweder, D. 1992. Management of platypus in the Richmond River catchment, northern New South Wales. University of New England Northern Rivers.
Rohweder, D. A. and Baverstock, P. R. 1999. Distribution of platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in the Richmond River Catchment, northern New South Wales. Australian Zoologist 31: 30-37.
Serena, M. 1994. Use of time and space by the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) along a Victorian stream. Journal of Zoology 232: 117-131.
Serena, M. and Pettigrove, V. 2005. Relationship of sediment toxicants and water quality to the distribution of platypus populations in urban streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 24: 679-689.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. 2007. Summary of recent platypus sightings and related information for the Melbourne Water extended area of operations. Report to Melbourne Water. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. 2010. Factors contributing to platypus mortality in Victoria. The Victorian Naturalist 127: 178-183.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2004. An experimental reintroduction of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) to Cardinia Creek (April-June 2004). Report to Melbourne Water. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Whittlesea.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2007. Wimmera platypus conservation manual. Report to Wimmera Catchment Management Authority. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2008. Distribution and management of platypus in the greater Melbourne region. Report to Melbourne Water. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2008. The status of platypus in flood- and fire-affected catchments in Gippsland, 2008. Report to Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2010. Conserving Platypus and water-rats: information and guidelines. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2010. Platypus population assessment and recommended management actions along Broken Creek. Report to Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. 2010. Platypus sightings records for the Murray River upstream of Lake Hume and its tributaries, 2009-2010. Report to Upper Murray Landcare Network. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Serena, M., Williams, G. A., and Johnston, L. D. 2002. Status of platypus in the Curdies River catchment: live-trapping surveys and local sightings, summer 2002. Report to Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Whittlesea.
Serena, M., Williams, G. A., Swinnerton, M. 2001. Results of platypus population surveys in the Taponga River catchment, May 2001. Report to the Victorian Department of Natural resources and Environment. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Whittlesea.
Serena, M., Worley, M., Swinnerton, M. and Williams, G. A. 2001. Effect of food availability and habitat on the distribution of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) foraging activity. Australian Journal of Zoology 49: 263-277.
Williams, G. A. 2010. Results of a platypus live-trapping survey along the Coliban River, Malmsbury, October 2010. Report to North Central Catchment Management Agency. Australian Platypus Conservancy, Wiseleigh.
Woinarski, J. C. Z., Burbidge, A. A. and Harrison, P. L. 2014. The Action Plan for Australian mammals 2012. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood.
|Citation:||Woinarski, J. & Burbidge, A.A. 2016. Ornithorhynchus anatinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T40488A21964009.Downloaded on 24 February 2017.|
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