eCite Digital Repository

Assessing body condition in the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus): A comparison of new and old methods


MacGregor, JW and Holyoake, C and Munks, S and Connolly, JH and Robertson, ID and Fleming, PA and Lonsdale, RA and Warren, K, Assessing body condition in the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus): A comparison of new and old methods, Australian Journal of Zoology, 64, (6) pp. 421-429. ISSN 0004-959X (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 CSIRO

DOI: doi:10.1071/ZO16071


Body condition is an important aspect of the health of any animal. The current standard method of body condition assessment in the platypus is the tail volume index (TVI). Although the tail is the largest repository of fat in the platypus, the reliability of TVI has not been adequately demonstrated. The aims of this study were, first to assess performance of the TVI, and second, to develop and evaluate performance of new techniques for routine field assessment of platypus body condition. Morphometric data were collected under anaesthesia from 137 adult wild platypuses (74 males, 63 females) captured in north-west Tasmania; ultrasound images of tail fat were also collected from 100 of these individuals (54 males, 46 females). Three new indices for platypus body condition were identified. An objective tail fat index (Relative Tail Fat Volume: RTFVTBL) was developed, based on cross-sectional area measurements taken from detailed ultrasound images compared with total body length (TBL). Two body condition indices intended for routine field use were developed one based on body mass (mb) and bill width (BW) (Body Condition Index; BCIBW), and the other based on a single linear ultrasonographic measurement of tail fat depth and BW (Relative Fat Depth; RFDBW). Results indicated that RFDBW outperforms TVI as an index of platypus tail fat. Further work, however, is needed to determine the relationship between tail fat and total body fat in the platypus before conclusions can be drawn about the effectiveness of BCIBW as a body condition index.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal physiological ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Fresh, ground and surface water systems and management
Objective Field:Fresh, ground and surface water biodiversity
UTAS Author:Munks, S (Dr Sarah Munks)
ID Code:119990
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2017-08-08
Last Modified:2017-10-31

Repository Staff Only: item control page