Western Sydney University researchers are working with the Cattai Hills Environment Network (CHEN) on a new project to establish the number of platypus living in the extended Cattai Creek Catchment.
Residents of the catchment area - which spans Cattai in the Hawkesbury to Castle Hill in the Hills Shire - are encouraged to notify the research team of any platypus they may have sighted over the last few years to help establish research sites.
Once the sites are established, monitoring for platypus using eDNA - an innovative, non-invasive sampling technique that analyses a small water sample for traces of DNA left by fauna that use the waterbody - will commence to track local population numbers.
Cattai Hills Environment Network President Sue Martin said: "The results of the eDNA analysis will allow CHEN to target our educational programs to those areas of confirmed platypus habitat and build community knowledge, increase environmental awareness and improve environmental outcomes in the catchment."
According to Dr Michelle Ryan, from the University's School of Science, the decline in numbers of platypus due to predation, environmental disruption and climate change is cause for real concern.
"It isn't looking good for the platypus. We need to identify the waterways that they use so we can work to protect their habitat and protect the species in the Sydney basin," said Dr Ryan.
The Cattai Hills Environment Network is an organisation educating, advocating and celebrating the flora and fauna in the Cattai Creek and Little Cattai Creek catchments.