What is Citizen Science?

Streamwatch

Citizen Science is the collection and analysis of data collected by the general public to be used for scientific research. It is usually done collaboratively with professional scientists. It can also be described as public participation in scientific research.

Citizen science is very important as it enables scientists to collect data that would otherwise be impossible or expensive to collect by themselves. With the help of modern technology, people from all over the world can contribute to scientific studies by sharing data with each other.

Community Groups

Scientists often work with community groups as they may already be involved in similar projects, for example if they are working to help their local wildlife, and the citizen science program involves identifying wildlife species, then this collaboration will assist both parties in reaching their goals. The community groups are especially helpful as they can help by promoting the project to bring in new people, to generate ideas, and engage with scientists for advice.

A community group will have a variety of people with different skills and backgrounds too,  so scientists will be able to utilize these skills to expand their project and data collection methods. Volunteers can include kids, school students, amateur scientists, retirees and educators.

Citizen science programs are also a great opportunity for students and other volunteers to increase their knowledge and skills in a particular area.  Looking into volunteering opportunities that relate to your studies will greatly increase your chances in getting a job.

Citizen Science at CHEN

If you are looking into working in the environment field, whether it is on the research or community engagement side of things, volunteering with a group that increases knowledge and gives you valuable skills, will be very beneficial to your future career.

CHEN has a Landcare group that includes bush regeneration and citizen science opportunities. Our citizen science opportunities include, water quality testing which is in collaboration with Streamwatch; identifying and taking hollow measurements, which is in collaboration with Hollows as Homes; and Frog ID which is in collaboration with the Australian Museum.

We also partake in bush regeneration activities which is not a citizen science project but does provide you with knowledge and skills related to land management and plant identification.

If you want to get ahead in your career by partaking in such activities, please contact us to get involved.

Please email, danielle@chen.org.au for more information, otherwise click this link to be added to the Fred Caterson Landcare Group where you can keep up to date with what we are doing and come along!

 

Platypus eDNA water sampling – thank you to volunteers

Platypus eDNA water sampling – thank you to volunteers

Our sampling would not have been possible without the generosity of volunteer citizen scientists (including a number of CHEN members) and students from Western Sydney University (WSU).

A couple of our eDNA testing sites were located on O’Haras Creek and Scaly Bark Creek on the outskirts of Kenthurst.  A particular thank you to Andrew Callaghan the Captain of the Kenthurst Rural Fire Service who very kindly agreed to help our eDNA water sampling team get to these sampling sites that were accessed by local fire trails.  We visited some beautiful spots and what appeared to be some good platypus habitat.

Andrew Callaghan (Captain, Kenthurst Rural Fire Service), Jacqueline Britton (Cattai Aware Project Officer) and Anja McKimmie (CHEN member) at O’Haras Creek, Kenthurst

 

Gabrielle Sabatino (WSU Undergraduate student) and Katherine Morrison (WSU PhD candidate) eDNA water sampling on Cattai Creek

 

Platypus eDNA testing results are in!!

Platypus eDNA testing results are in!!

Some very exciting news to share! The results of our eDNA tests have arrived. Western Sydney University have written all about it in their article “Evidence of platypus population found near major Sydney urban development“.

The Key Points are:

  • Citizen scientists and Western Sydney University researchers have found DNA evidence of platypus in north-west Sydney
  • The findings give credibility to historical sightings over the years
  • The discovery also comes amid major urban development of the area

Way to go CHENer’s and Western Sydney University!

Read the full article from WSU here.

We’re now going to think about how we move forward to protect this unique and iconic species in our Catchment.

Collecting an eDNA sample

Collecting an eDNA sample

How do you take and eDNA sample?

A little more on the eDNA sampling from the last post. The photos here show the filter after each syringe of water has been passed through. You can see the colour change after each syringe, the last one being quite striated and dark. As DNA is in the water, the aim is to pass as much water through the filter as you can- more water means more DNA collected to test and the greater the chance of detecting your target species (or a greater range of species if you do a broad test). 👩‍🔬

You stop filtering water through the filter when the pressure becomes too great and it is no longer possible to.

 

What does it tell us?

 The samples of DNA that we collected last about 5 days in the environment before they are too damaged to be used in testing. This means that if you get a positive results, the species has been their very recently. It can therefore be a great complement* to other types of evidence that a species is in an area, such as scats (poo), hair, scratches, rub marks, nest, egg shells, bones etc., depending on the species in question and the purpose of the research.

You can also see me doing a habitat assessment to determine how much suitable platypus habitat there is at each site. We also tested water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH and other water quality indicators. 🔬 Oh and no, the eski is not for beers (although the location is beautiful), the samples go in an eski to stay cold and help with preservation. 

What we get overall is picture of:

  1. If there are platypus there
  2. What sites are suitable based on habitat and water quality and
  3.  If the habitat was suitable but the water quality wasn’t, we know what might be affecting them and can investigate to improve the water quality and a few other things.

All these things help inform future research, protection of area and our understanding platypi.

Watch this space for results!

 

 

       

Photos: Students from WSU sampling the creek, Habitat Assessment sheets, (far above) eDNA filters from start to finish of the filtering process.

Platypus Story

Platypus Story

Authored by Cross et al, Changeology Workshop, October 2017

Based on a true story

Two of our newly arrived residents from overseas were clearing privet on their property.  This is their story.

One crisp spring morning we finally came to the bank of the creek.  In wonder we gazed at the water running between the rocks and the cool dark pools.  Suddenly we saw a flash of fur and a rounded beak.  We had never encountered such a strange looking animal before and called our neighbour. 

It was a platypus! 


Media Release from the ABC:
We still do have platypus in some of our creeks – what can we do to ensure they survive and thrive?

Scientists have joined forces with tech giant Google to build an app that allows Australians to gather information about one of our most unique and elusive animals, the platypus.

Key points:

  • Scientists say urban sprawl and climate change are big threats to the platypus
  • The app lets people send photos and observations to an online database
  • The data will be used in the first national survey of Australia’s platypus population

It is not clear how many platypuses are living in the wild, but conservationists say the star of the 20-cent coin is facing an uncertain future due to urban sprawl and river pollution.

Read more

Day 14 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Today’s last and final Eco-tip is concerning the plastic endemic again!

When out food shopping, instead of using plastic bags to hold your fruit and vegetables, bring with you some Reusable Produce Bags!

The ones I have, from EVERECO are actually made from Recycled plastic water bottles! So that is another Eco bonus

These Produce Bags come with our Eco-bundle too, so be sure to post a photo of you helping your environment on our page by 5pm today to WIN our Eco-bundle!

Best of luck!

Day 13 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Reduce Your Purchasing Habits

Day 13 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Reduce Your Purchasing Habits

Today’s Eco Tip is about reducing our purchasing habits.

Clothing is a great example of an item that we purchase regularly, and it has been getting more regular as fast-fashion becomes more prone in our society. 

The production of clothing uses a lot of our natural resources such as land and water.

‘In fact, it takes on average 10,000 litres of water to cultivate just one kilogram of raw cotton Read more…

Day 12 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Recycling your Soft Plastics

Day 12 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Recycling your Soft Plastics

The Eco tip of the day is Recycling your Soft Plastics!♻️

Collect your soft plastics and return them to Coles or Woolworths, where they will be a bin waiting for your waste to be recycled!

Having ONE Bin in the household was the norm, where all our waste went straight to landfill. Nowadays there are other ways we can dispose of our waste more thoughtfully. 😁

Soft plastics include:
– Shopping bags including ‘green’ bags
– Fresh Fruit and Veggie bags and wrappers
– Bread bags
– Cereal box liners
– Biscuit wrappers and confectionary packaging
– Rice and pasta packets
– Frozen food bags

Day 12 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge! The Eco tip of the day is Recycling your Soft Plastics!♻️ Collect your soft plastics and return them to Coles or Woolworths, where they will be a bin waiting for your waste to be recycled! Having ONE Bin in the household was the norm, where all our waste went straight to landfill. Nowadays there are other ways we can dispose of our waste more thoughtfully. 😁Soft plastics include: – Shopping bags including ‘green’ bags- Fresh Fruit and Veggie bags and wrappers- Bread bags- Cereal box liners- Biscuit wrappers and confectionary packaging- Rice and pasta packets – Frozen food bags

Posted by Cattai Hills Environment Network CHEN on Sunday, 19 April 2020

Day 11 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Support an Organisation

Day 11 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge – Support an Organisation

Today’s tip is all about supporting an organisation that is making fundamental change to Australia’s bush land.

I am donating to Bush Heritage Australia

“They buy and manage land for conservation and partner with Aboriginal groups and other land owners (such as farmers), to help them plan and achieve conservation goals on their land too”

Day 11 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge!

Day 11 of the 14 Day Cattai Challenge!Today’s tip is all about supporting an organisation that is making fundamental change to Australia’s bush land! I am donating to Bush Heritage Australia!“They buy and manage land for conservation and partner with Aboriginal groups and other land owners (such as farmers), to help them plan and achieve conservation goals on their land too”Link to website: https://www.bushheritage.org.au/what-we-doIf there is an organisation that you have heard of and you love the work they are doing for the environment, help them out by donating, sharing their work on social media or even find out about volunteering opportunities!It’s a great way to help our local environment from home during isolation.If there is an organisation you love, please share it with us on our page! That can be your way of entering the Cattai Challenge as you help your local environment by spreading the good work of these organisations. 🌳😊

Posted by Cattai Hills Environment Network CHEN on Saturday, 18 April 2020

Link to website: https://www.bushheritage.org.au/what-we-do. You can also find them on Facebook and learn about the properties and species they encounter day to day on their Instagram @bushheritageaus.

If there is an organisation that you have heard of and you love the work they are doing for the environment, help them out by donating, sharing their work on social media or even find out about volunteering opportunities.

It’s a great way to help our local environment from home during isolation.

If there is an organisation you love, please share it with us on our page! That can be your way of entering the Cattai Challenge as you help your local environment by spreading the good work of these organisations.