EchidnaCSI project on Kangaroo Island wins Australian Citizen Science Association award

SCiENCE AWARD: Dr Tahlia Perry, Prof Frank Grutzner and Isabella Wilson with the award for their work on the EchidnaCSI project on Kangaroo Island. Photo supplied

SCiENCE AWARD: Dr Tahlia Perry, Prof Frank Grutzner and Isabella Wilson with the award for their work on the EchidnaCSI project on Kangaroo Island. Photo supplied

Two projects investigating the lives of echidna and dolphins at Kangaroo Island have been recognised with new citizen science awards.

The awards are a new initiative supported by the Chief Scientist of SA, Prof. Caroline McMillen, along with Inspiring South Australia and the South Australian chapter of the Australian Citizen Science Association to recognise citizen science in South Australia.

There were two categories and two finalists in each category.

EchidnaCSI won the "Outstanding Science" award, while the SA Bryophyte Collection Transcription Project was the runner up.

The "Outstanding Community Engagement" award was won by Kangaroo Island/Victor Harbor Dolphin Watch with iBandi the runner up.

Dr Tahlia Perry is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Adelaide and the leader of EchidnaCSI.

EchidnaCSI is a citizen science project aimed to gather data and material from echidnas across the whole of Australia to learn more about wild populations to ultimately aid in their conservation.

Since its launch four years ago, EchidnaCSI now has more than 11,000 participants, who have contributed more than12,000 echidna sightings, which is the most population data we've ever achieved over a four-year period before.

"People have been enthusiastically collecting echidna poo, more than 700 samples, for us where we have been investigating echidna diet and the relationship between food and bushfires to their gut microbiome health from the DNA present in the scats," Dr Perry said.

"Kangaroo Island is a very special part of EchidnaCSI as key collaborator Dr Peggy Rismiller has studied the KI echidnas for more than 30 years.

"We have a very large and passionate participant base on KI who have adopted EchidnaCSI very enthusiastically.

"Citizen scientists on KI have provided very important data and scat material to assess the bushfire impact on the local echidna population by submitting information both prior and post the fires."

The EchidnaCSI team were able to meet new and existing participants this August when it ran a National Science Week event at the Parndana School Campus.

ECHIDNA CSI: Legendary Kangaroo Island scientist and ecologist Dr Peggy Rismiller and a group of citizen scientists from the Echinda CSI project encounter a wild echidna on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Echinda CSI

ECHIDNA CSI: Legendary Kangaroo Island scientist and ecologist Dr Peggy Rismiller and a group of citizen scientists from the Echinda CSI project encounter a wild echidna on Kangaroo Island. Photo: Echinda CSI

There they met with more than 80 people to talk about the project and the impact that the community has had to echidna knowledge and conservation.

"Moving forward we hope to continue to grow EchidnaCSI across Australia, particularly engaging new audiences in rural and regional areas and use the information we've found to change policies in order to take actions on conserving our beloved echidnas," Dr Perry said.

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