Use of implanted acoustic tags to assess platypus movement behaviour across spatial and temporal scales

Full citation: 
Bino G, Kingsford RT, Grant T, Taylor MD, and Vogelnest L (2018) Use of implanted acoustic tags to assess platypus movement behaviour across spatial and temporal scales. Scientific Reports 8: 5117
Author/s associated with the CES: 
Gilad Bino
Richard Kingsford

Abstract: The platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) is an evolutionarily distinct mammal, endemic to Australian freshwaters. Many aspects of its ecology and life-history, including detailed understanding of movements, are poorly known, hampered by its cryptic and mainly nocturnal habits and small numbers. We effectively trialled intraperitoneal implanted acoustic transmitters in nine platypuses in the Severn River (NSW), Australia, as a potential approach for studying movements in this challenging species. We tracked platypus movements over six months, at fine and broad spatial scales, using an array of acoustic sensors. Over six months (March-August 2016), four of five adult platypuses (two females\three males) maintained localized movements (average monthly maximums 0.37 km ± 0.03 sd), while one adult, one sub-adult, and one juvenile (males) moved further: average monthly maxima 1.2 km ± 2.0 sd, 0.9 km ± 0.6 sd, 4.5 km ± 5.9 sd, respectively. The longest recorded movement was by a male adult, covering 11.1 km in three days and travelling a maximum distance of about 13 km between records. Only one implanted animal was not detected immediately after release, indicative of transmission failure rather than an adverse event. High cumulative daily movements (daily 1.9 km ± 0.8 sd) indicated high metabolic requirements, with implications for previous estimates of platypus abundances and carrying capacities, essential for effective conservation. This novel approach offers new avenues to investigate relating to mating, nesting, and intraspecific competition behaviours and their temporal and spatial variation.

Go to top