CSIRO Publishing blank image blank image blank image blank imageBooksblank image blank image blank image blank imageJournalsblank image blank image blank image blank imageAbout Usblank image blank image blank image blank imageShopping Cartblank image blank image blank image You are here: Journals > Australian Journal of Zoology   
Australian Journal of Zoology
Journal Banner
  Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
blank image Search
blank image blank image
blank image
  Advanced Search

Journal Home
About the Journal
Editorial Structure
Online Early
Current Issue
Just Accepted
All Issues
Special Issues
Sample Issue
For Authors
General Information
Submit Article
Author Instructions
Open Access
Awards and Prizes
For Referees
Referee Guidelines
Review an Article
Annual Referee Index
For Subscribers
Subscription Prices
Customer Service
Print Publication Dates
Library Recommendation

blue arrow e-Alerts
blank image
Subscribe to our Email Alert or RSS feeds for the latest journal papers.

red arrow Connect with us
blank image
facebook twitter logo LinkedIn


Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 62(3)

Variation in platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) life-history attributes and population trajectories in urban streams

M. Serena A D, G. A. Williams A, A. R. Weeks B C and J. Griffiths C

A Australian Platypus Conservancy, PO Box 22, Wiseleigh, Vic. 3885, Australia.
B Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Vic. 3010, Australia.
C cesar, 293 Royal Parade, Parkville, Vic. 3052, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: platypus.apc@westnet.com.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 62(3) 223-234 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO13079
Submitted: 3 October 2013  Accepted: 18 May 2014   Published: 26 June 2014

PDF (767 KB) $25
 Export Citation

An understanding of animal population dynamics relies on identifying life-history attributes associated with population growth and determining how these are affected by environmental variables. We analysed platypus population processes over a 10-year period through mark–recapture studies conducted in three spatially independent stream systems located in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. The three populations were collectively characterised by a slightly male-biased adult sex ratio (1.15 : 1) and relatively low reproductive success (<0.5 juvenile captured annually per adult female). An estimated 16% of core residents disappeared annually and 18% of marked juveniles were recaptured as adults. However, some demographic parameters (reproductive success, frequency of non-core adult captures) varied significantly among populations. Estimates of annual core population size in the three systems varied asynchronously, with different trajectories in population size potentially reflecting habitat differences (amount of urban development, reliability of surface flow) as well as variation in spatial isolation and catchment history (implementation of stream rehabilitation programs, occurrence of severe floods). Across all three populations, significant variability in annual reproductive success was explained by linear relationships with the amount of rainfall recorded in the five months before breeding (positive) and after juveniles emerge from nesting burrows (negative).

Additional keywords: fast–slow continuum, MNA population index, monotreme, platypus conservation requirements, urban stormwater drainage.


Angerbjörn, A., Arvidson, B., Norén, E., and Strömgren, L. (1991). The effect of winter food on reproduction in the arctic fox, Alopex lagopus: a field experiment. Journal of Animal Ecology 60, 705–714.
CrossRef |

Bethge, P., Munks, S., Otley, H., and Nicol, S. (2003). Diving behaviour, dive cycles and aerobic dive limit in the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A 136, 799–809.
CrossRef |

Bielby, J., Mace, G. M., Bininda-Edmonds, O. R. P., Cadillo, M., Gittleman, J. L., Jones, K. E., Orme, C. D. L., and Purvis, A. (2007). The fast–slow continuum in mammalian life history: an empirical reevaluation. American Naturalist 169, 748–757.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Boulton, A. J., and Lake, P. S. (1990). The ecology of two intermittent streams in Victoria, Australia. I. Multivariate analyses of physicochemical features. Freshwater Biology 24, 123–141.
CrossRef | CAS |

Boulton, A. J., and Lake, P. S. (1992). The ecology of two intermittent streams in Victoria, Australia. III. Temporal changes in faunal composition. Freshwater Biology 27, 123–138.
CrossRef |

Brown, J. L., and Orians, G. H. (1970). Spacing patterns in mobile animals. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 1, 239–262.
CrossRef |

Burns, M. J., Fletcher, T. D., Walsh, C. J., Ladson, A. R., and Hatt, B. E. (2012). Hydrologic shortcomings of conventional urban stormwater management and opportunities for reform. Landscape and Urban Planning 105, 230–240.
CrossRef |

Burrell, H. (1974). ‘The Platypus.’ 2nd edn. (Rigby Limited: Adelaide.)

Clutton-Brock, T. H. (1989). Mammalian mating systems. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 236, 339–372.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Coulson, T., Milner-Gulland, E. J., and Clutton-Brock, T. (2000). The relative roles of density and climatic variation on population dynamics and fecundity rates in three contrasting ungulate species. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 267, 1771–1779.
CrossRef | CAS |

Cresswell, W. J., Harris, S., Cheeseman, C. L., and Mallinson, P. J. (1992). To breed or not to breed: an analysis of the social and density-dependent constraints on the fecundity of female badgers (Meles meles). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences 338, 393–407.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

De-La-Warr, M., and Serena, M. (1999). Observations of platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus mating behaviour. The Victorian Naturalist 116, 172–174.

Easton, L., Williams, G., and Serena, M. (2008). Monthly variation in observed activity of the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus. The Victorian Naturalist 125, 104–109.

Faragher, R. A., Grant, T. R., and Carrick, F. N. (1979). Food of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) with notes on the food of the brown trout (Salmo trutta) in the Shoalhaven River, N.S.W. Australian Journal of Ecology 4, 171–179.
CrossRef |

Frissell, C. A., and Nawa, R. K. (1992). Incidence and causes of physical failure of artificial habitat structures in streams of western Oregon and Washington. North American Journal of Fisheries Management 12, 182–197.
CrossRef |

Furlan, E. M., Griffiths, J., Gust, N., Handasyde, K. A., Grant, T. R., Gruber, B., and Weeks, A. R. (2013). Dispersal patterns and population structuring among platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, throughout south-eastern Australia. Conservation Genetics 14, 837–853.
CrossRef | CAS |

Gaillard, J.-M., Pontier, D., Allainé, D., Lebreton, J. D., Trouvilliez, J., and Clobert, J. (1989). An analysis of demographic tactics in birds and mammals. Oikos 56, 59–76.
CrossRef |

Gaillard, J.-M., Boutin, J.-M., Delorme, D., Van Laere, G., Duncan, P., and Lebreton, J.-D. (1997). Early survival in roe deer: causes and consequences of cohort variation in two contrasted populations. Oecologia 112, 502–513.
CrossRef |

Grant, T. R. (1982). Food of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchidae), from various water bodies in New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 5, 235–236.

Grant, T. R. (1992). Historical and current distribution of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in Australia. In ‘Platypus and Echidnas’. (Ed. M. L. Augee.) pp. 232–254. (Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Sydney.)

Grant, T. R. (2004a). Captures, capture mortality, age and sex ratios of platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, during studies over 30 years in the upper Shoalhaven River in New South Wales. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 125, 217–226.

Grant, T. R. (2004b). Depth and substrate selection by platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in the lower Hastings River, New South Wales. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 125, 235–241.

Grant, T. R., and Temple-Smith, P. D. (1983). Size, seasonal weight change and growth in platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchidae), from rivers and lakes of New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 6, 51–60.

Grant, T. R., and Whittington, R. J. (1991). The use of freeze-branding and implanted transponder tags as a permanent marking method for platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Monotremata: Ornithorhynchidae). Australian Mammalogy 14, 147–150.

Grant, T. R., Griffiths, M., and Temple-Smith, P. D. (2004). Breeding in a free-ranging population of platypuses, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in the upper Shoalhaven River, New South Wales – a 27 year study. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 125, 227–234.

Griffiths, J., Kelly, T., and Weeks, A. (2013). Net-avoidance behaviour in platypuses. Australian Mammalogy 35, 245–247.
CrossRef |

Gust, N., and Griffiths, J. (2011). Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) body size, condition and population structure in Tasmanian river catchments: variability and potential mucormycosis impacts. Wildlife Research 38, 271–289.
CrossRef |

Harris, J. H., and Leitner, P. (2004). Home-range size and use of space by adult Mohave ground squirrels, Spermophilus mohavensis. Journal of Mammalogy 85, 517–523.
CrossRef |

Hawkins, M., and Battaglia, A. (2009). Breeding behaviour of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) in captivity. Australian Journal of Zoology 57, 283–293.
CrossRef |

Kneip, E., Van Vuren, D. H., Hostetler, J. A., and Oli, M. K. (2011). Influence of population density and climate on the demography of subalpine golden-mantled ground squirrels. Journal of Mammalogy 92, 367–377.
CrossRef |

Krebs, C. J. (1966). Demographic changes in fluctuating populations of Microtus californicus. Ecological Monographs 36, 239–273.
CrossRef |

Lake, P. S. (2000). Disturbance, patchiness, and diversity in streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 19, 573–592.
CrossRef |

Liebhold, A., Koenig, W. D., and Bjørnstad, O. N. (2004). Spatial synchrony in population dynamics. Annual Review of Ecology Evolution and Systematics 35, 467–490.
CrossRef |

Martin, E. H., Walsh, C. J., Serena, M., and Webb, J. A. (2014). Urban stormwater runoff limits distribution of platypus. Austral Ecology 39, 337–345.
CrossRef |

McKelvey, K. S., and Pearson, D. E. (2001). Population estimation with sparse data: the role of estimators versus indices revisited. Canadian Journal of Zoology 79, 1754–1765.
CrossRef |

McLachlan-Troup, T. A., Dickman, C. R., and Grant, T. R. (2010). Diet and dietary selectivity of the platypus in relation to season, sex and macroinvertebrate assemblages. Journal of Zoology 280, 237–246.
CrossRef |

Miller, S. W., Budy, P., and Schmidt, J. C. (2010). Quantifying macroinvertebrate responses to in-stream habitat restoration: applications of meta-analysis to river restoration. Restoration Ecology 18, 8–19.
CrossRef |

Morrison, S. F., and Hik, D. S. (2007). Demographic analysis of a declining pika Ochotoma collaris population: linking survival to broad-scale climate patterns via spring snowmelt patterns. Journal of Animal Ecology 76, 899–907.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Moyer, M. A., McCown, J. W., and Oli, M. K. (2007). Factors influencing home-range size of female Florida black bears. Journal of Mammalogy 88, 468–476.
CrossRef |

Munks, S. A., Otley, H. M., Bethge, P., and Jackson, J. (2000). Reproduction, diet and daily energy expenditure of the platypus in a sub-alpine Tasmanian lake. Australian Mammalogy 21, 260–261.

Pereira, J. A., Fracassi, N. G., and Uhart, M. M. (2006). Numerical and spatial responses of Geoffroy’s cat (Oncifelis geoffroyi) to prey decline in Argentina. Journal of Mammalogy 87, 1132–1139.
CrossRef |

Pocock, M. J. O., Frantz, A. C., Cowan, D. P., White, P. C. L., and Searle, J. B. (2004). Tapering bias inherent in minimum number alive (MNA) population indices. Journal of Mammalogy 85, 959–962.
CrossRef |

Rödel, H. G., Bora, A., Kaetzke, P., Khaschei, M., Hutzelmeyer, H., and von Holst, D. (2004). Over-winter survival in subadult European rabbits: weather effects, density dependence, and the impact of individual characteristics. Oecologia 140, 566–576.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Rose, P., Metzeling, L., and Catzikiris, S. (2008). Can macroinvertebrate rapid bioassessment methods be used to assess river health during drought in south eastern Australian streams? Freshwater Biology 53, 2626–2638.
CrossRef | CAS |

Serena, M. (1994). Use of time and space by platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus: Monotremata) along a Victorian stream. Journal of Zoology 232, 117–131.
CrossRef |

Serena, M., and Pettigrove, V. (2005). Relationship of sediment toxicants and water quality to the distribution of platypus populations in urban streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 24, 679–689.
CrossRef |

Serena, M., and Williams, G. (2010). Factors contributing to platypus mortality in Victoria. The Victorian Naturalist 127, 178–183.

Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. (2012a). Effect of sex and age on temporal variation in the frequency and direction of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) captures in fyke nets. Australian Mammalogy 34, 75–82.
CrossRef |

Serena, M., and Williams, G. A. (2012b). Movements and cumulative range size of the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) inferred from mark–recapture studies. Australian Journal of Zoology 60, 352–359.
CrossRef |

Serena, M., Thomas, J. L., Williams, G. A., and Officer, R. C. E. (1998). Use of stream and river habitats by the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, in an urban fringe environment. Australian Journal of Zoology 46, 267–282.
CrossRef |

Serena, M., Worley, M., Swinnerton, M., and Williams, G. A. (2001). Effect of food availability and habitat on the distribution of platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) foraging activity. Australian Journal of Zoology 49, 263–277.
CrossRef |

Shaffer, M. L. (1981). Minimum population sizes for species conservation. Bioscience 31, 131–134.
CrossRef |

Slade, N. A., and Blair, S. M. (2000). An empirical test of using counts of individuals captured as indices of population size. Journal of Mammalogy 81, 1035–1045.
CrossRef |

Stearns, S. C. (1983). The influence of size and phylogeny on patterns of covariation among life-history traits in the mammals. Oikos 41, 173–187.
CrossRef |

Stewart, K. M., Bowyer, R. T., Dick, B. L., Johnson, B. K., and Kie, J. G. (2005). Density-dependent effects on physical condition and reproduction in North American elk: an experimental test. Oecologia 143, 85–93.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Tabachnick, B. G., and Fidell, L. S. (1989). ‘Using Multivariate Statistics.’ (Harper & Row: New York.)

Temple-Smith, P. D. (1973). Seasonal breeding of the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus (Shaw, 1799), with special reference to the male. Ph.D. Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

Temple-Smith, P., and Grant, T. (2001). Uncertain breeding: a short history of reproduction in monotremes. Reproduction, Fertility and Development 13, 487–497.
CrossRef | CAS |

Tullos, D. D., Penrose, D. L., Jennings, G. D., and Cope, W. G. (2009). Analysis of functional traits in reconfigured channels: implications for the bioassessment and disturbance of river restoration. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 28, 80–92.
CrossRef |

Walsh, C. J., and Breen, P. F. (2001). A biological approach to assessing the potential success of habitat restoration in urban streams. Verhandlungen der Internationalen Vereinigung für theoretische und angewandte Limnologie 27, 3654–3658.

Walsh, C. J., Roy, A. H., Feminella, J. W., Cottingham, P. D., Groffman, P. M., and Morgan, R. P. (2005). The urban stream syndrome: current knowledge and the search for a cure. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 24, 706–723.
CrossRef |

Wauters, L., and Dhondt, A. A. (1989). Body weight, longevity and reproductive success in red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). Journal of Animal Ecology 58, 637–651.
CrossRef |

White, R. G., Rowell, J. E., and Hauer, W. E. (1997). The role of nutrition, body condition and lactation on calving success in muskoxen. Journal of Zoology 243, 13–20.
CrossRef |

Williams, G. A., Serena, M., and Grant, T. R. (2013). Age-related change in spurs and spur sheaths of the platypus Ornithorhynchus anatinus. Australian Mammalogy 35, 107–114.
CrossRef |

Zar, J. H. (1984). ‘Biostatistical Analysis.’ (Prentice-Hall: Englewood Cliffs, NJ.)

Subscriber Login

Legal & Privacy | Contact Us | Help


© CSIRO 1996-2016