Mark-recapture surveys will gather information on the abundance, morphometrics and habitat of platypus in farming and undisturbed regions. Platypuses will be captured and identified by microchip, weighed, measured, condition scored, sexed and aged. Blood will be collected for making blood smears, haematological and serum biochemical analysis (e.g. red and white cell counts; electrolyte, albumin, globulin, enzyme levels etc) and serum banking. Platypus will be assessed for external (e.g. ticks, mites, fleas), faecal (e.g. coccidial oocysts, trematode eggs) and blood (e.g. Theileria, Trypanosoma) parasites.
This project will involve trout husbandry, anaesthesia and handling, in addition to fungal culture and histology.
Knowledge of reproductive biology is important to the effective management of captive and free-living wildlife species. Assessment of sexual maturity, fertility, reproductive status and the onset of the breeding season is required to develop guidelines designed to enhance the captive breeding of rare or endangered species. Platypuses have only reproduced successfully a couple of times in captivity, although mating has often been reported. Breeding in platypus is thought to be effected by latitude, the onset of the breeding season being later the further south the population.
The stress response in mammals involves a cascade of neuroendocrine events, including the secretion of glucocorticosteroids from the adrenal cortex. There is often a variation with the ability for individuals within a population to cope with a stressor. The stress response may be affected by the age, sex, genetic composition, physiological state (e.g. during the breeding season, pregnancy, lactation), competition between individuals (e.g. dominance), time of year and environmental factors (e.g. temperature, food and shelter availability). Platypuses require a stretch of suitable habitat with stable, vegetated and consolidated banks; abundant invertebrate prey species and reasonable water quality. Platypuses are territorial and mostly solitary. With the onset of the breeding season, there is increased aggressiveness between competing males. A short-term increase in the circulating corticosteroid level is adaptive, but in the long-term can have deleterious consequences.