Hornsby Shire Council is excited to announce the launch of ‘Communities, Creeks and Critters’, an innovative citizen science project aimed at exploring the biodiversity of local creek ecosystems.
Funded by a NSW Social Cohesion Grant, this initiative will utilise cutting-edge environmental DNA (eDNA) technology to engage community members in a unique exploration of their local environment.
This project follows the completion of a Healthy Waterways community grant program, which was designed to assess the presence of platypus in Hornsby Shire waterways, after a confirmed sighting in Colah Creek in August 2022.
‘Communities, Creeks and Critters’ expands the search to encompass a broader range of species beyond platypus, through the use of metabarcoding techniques.
Citizen scientists will have the exciting opportunity to collect water samples from local waterways using special eDNA sampling kits.
Collected samples will then be sent for laboratory analysis, where DNA traces left by different species will be detected, providing valuable insights into local aquatic wildlife, and establishing an assessment of creek biodiversity across the Shire.
Hornsby Shire Council Manager, Natural Resources, Dr Peter Coad has called on residents of all ages to express their interest and get involved in this rare opportunity to contribute to scientific research.
“By participating in this project, citizen scientists will learn about creek critters, acquire science-based sampling and survey skills, and help deepen Council’s understanding of the wildlife that lives in and around our cherished waterways,” Dr Coad said.
“eDNA data of this kind has never been gathered before within the Bushland Shire, making this the most significant citizen science and creek biodiversity research project in Council’s history.”
To ensure citizen scientists are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills, training sessions will be conducted. These workshops will either be held face-to-face or via instructional video recording, with further details to be provided upon registration.
Following the training, volunteers will be assigned to at least one of the 40 creek sampling sites spread across Hornsby Shire. Citizen scientists can contribute across various capacities, including eDNA sampling, data entry, site assessments, photography, first aid, logistics, authoring fact sheets, social media and blog content.
To find out more about the ‘Communities, Creeks and Critters’ project, or to register as a volunteer, visityoursay.hornsby.gov.au/community-creeks-critters.