EchidnaCSI Update

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We've got so much to tell you!

EchidnaCSI turned 1 last month, and we couldn't be prouder of all we've accomplished. So far, we've received over 3000 echidna sightings and over 200 scat submissions; we've spread awareness of echidna conservation everywhere from science conferences to primary schools; and we've met countless passionate citizen scientists.
We recently updated our app to include a highly requested feature: you can now use the app to submit past sightings! As we come to the tail end of the echidna breeding season, we look forward to receiving all of your sightings from the past few months. 
Below is important news for you.

EchidnaCSI at National Science Week

In August, EchidnaCSI dived headfirst into the wonderful world of National Science Week. We appeared as guests at a few events, as well as hosting several ourselves!
Our first three events comprised talks from EchidnaCSI creator Tahlia Perry and leading echidna expert Dr Peggy Rismiller.  We were thrilled to have Peggy on board for these events - she taught us all about the fascinating process of echidna reproduction, as well as holding a scat identification workshop. We also made appearances at the University of Adelaide Open Day and the Fungi Film Festival, where we were given the opportunity to spread the work about our project and echidna conservation in general. We were also excited to be part of a citizen science cinema experience in the Riverlands. 

We want to take this opportunity to thank any of you who came along to these events - we hope you had fun and learnt a lot! It was so amazing to meet passionate citizen scientists from all walks of life. We can't wait to do it all again next year!

New App Update Out Now!

Many of you have been having trouble with the app - we apologise for any inconvenience! We heard your feedback, and worked long and hard to fix it. We want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who provide us with valuable comments - it is because of you that we are able to improve our project every day. 

Unwell and Deceased Echidnas

We understand that it is a sensitive topic for many, but it is important to discuss what to do in the event of an unwell or deceased echidna. 

During and after breeding season, some of you might find yourselves in the position of caring for a young echidna. Echidnas are very unique animals, and it is therefore important to be aware of the unique care they require. We advise that you contact Dr Peggy Rismiller. Peggy is an echidna expert who runs the Pelican Lagoon Research & Wildlife Centre on Kangaroo Island. You can email her at:

Unfortunately, some of you may find yourselves with deceased echidnas. Echidna carcasses are invaluable to our research, so we would really appreciate if you could mail us any remains. This would allow us to learn a lot about echidnas, including their hormones and nutritional needs; this will hopefully reduce the number of echidna deaths in the future. 

Tahlia's Cambridge Experience

Getting DNA from scats isn’t an easy process. It’s taken several months of trouble shooting, but we’ve finally gotten there. From the DNA in echidna scats we will be able to see what insects echidnas are eating, how genetically similar echidnas are to each other and what bacteria are living in their guts – to indicate their microbiome health.

Once we have taken all the DNA from echidna scats, the DNA is processed through a machine called a sequencer, which spits out all DNA sequences together, and then we need to figure out which DNA sequence belongs to either insects, echidnas or bacteria. Imagine taking every sentence from several different books, mixing all the sentences up and then needing to figure out which sentence belonged to each book and putting them in the correct order… it’s kind of like that. Analysing genetic data is a field called bioinformatics, and Tahlia has not only been doing the lab work to prepare samples for sequencing but she’s also been learning the bioinformatics to analyse this data too.

Back in July Tahlia attended a bioinformatics workshop in Cambridge, UK, to learn the specific techniques in order to make sense of all the DNA coming out of echidna scats. The workshop was held for one week with other PhD students and researchers from across the world. It was a fantastic experience, not just to learn the techniques, but to meet other people working in similar fields to bounce ideas off of. We will be sending our first batch of echidna scat DNA off for sequencing soon and are excited to see the results we get. Big thank you to those of you that have sent in the scats as we wouldn’t be able to do this work without you.

Photo of the month

Check out this adorable photo submission from Nathaniel from SA! We just can't get over its cute little face. The submission also included a photo of the echidna using its beak to blow bubbles - we're in love! 😍

All the best,

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