Invasive Cane Toads (invasive + cane_toad)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Vulnerability of an Australian anuran tadpole assemblage to the toxic eggs of the invasive cane toad (Bufo marinus)

Abstract The invasion of cane toads (Bufo marinus) across tropical Australia has fatally poisoned many native predators; the most frequent victims may be tadpoles of native frogs, which die when they consume the toxic eggs of the toads. Field studies have documented high and species-specific mortality of tadpoles following toad spawning. To clarify the determinants of tadpole vulnerability, we conducted 1593 laboratory trials in which single tadpoles were exposed to 10 toad eggs, either with or without an alternative food source (lettuce). At least some tadpoles within all 15 species tested consumed toad eggs. Interspecific variance in survival rates (from 0 to >70%) was driven by feeding responses not by physiological tolerance to toxins: almost all native tadpoles that consumed eggs died rapidly. Tadpole mortality was decreased by the presence of an alternative food source in four species, increased in two species, and not affected in seven species. In three of four taxa where we tested both small (early-stage) and large (late-stage) tadpoles, both mean survival rates and the effects of alternative food on survival shifted with tadpole body size. Trials with one species (Limnodynastes convexiusculus) showed no significant inter-clutch variation in feeding responses or tolerance to toxins. Overall, our data show that cane toad eggs are highly toxic to native anuran tadpoles, but that whether or not a tadpole is killed by encountering toad eggs depends upon a complex interaction between the native anuran's species, its body size, and whether or not alternative food was present. In nature, larval vulnerability also depends upon the seasonal timing and location of spawning events, and habitat selection and foraging patterns of the tadpoles. Our results highlight the complexity of vulnerability determinants, and identify ecological factors (rather than physiology or feeding behaviour) as the primary determinants of cane toad impact on native tadpoles. [source]

Species-specific communication systems in an introduced toad compared with native frogs in Australia

Mattias Hagman
Abstract 1.Lineage-specific communication systems may offer innovative ways of targeting control measures at invasive species. 2.Recent work has identified such a scenario in invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) in Australia: toad tadpoles flee from chemical cues derived from crushed conspecifics, and this ,alarm pheromone' reduces tadpole survival rates and reduces body size at metamorphosis. 3.Before this method can be applied in the field, however, the signal's specificity needs to be tested against a wide range of Australian frog taxa, especially tropical species sympatric with cane toads. A signal that affected native frogs as well as toads clearly would be of little use for toad control. 4.Laboratory studies on cane toads and nine native frog taxa from the wet,dry tropics of the Northern Territory (Cyclorana australis, C. longipes, Limnodynastes convexiusculus, Litoria caerulea, L. dahlii, L. nasuta, L. rothii, L. rubella, Opisthodon ornatus) show that toad tadpoles rarely react to chemical cues from crushed frog tadpoles, and that frog tadpoles rarely react to chemical cues from crushed toad tadpoles. Crushed toad tadpoles occasionally elicited low-level attraction (to a potential food source) by frog tadpoles. 5.Overall, frog tadpoles were less responsive to chemical cues (either from crushed conspecifics or crushed toads) than were toad tadpoles. The low level of cross-lineage reactivity is encouraging for the feasibility of using cane toad alarm pheromones to control this invasive species in Australia; the risk of collateral damage to sympatric native frogs appears to be minimal. Copyright 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Behavioural responses of carnivorous marsupials (Planigale maculata) to toxic invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus)

Abstract The arrival of a toxic invasive species may impose selection on local predators to avoid consuming it. Feeding responses may be modified via evolutionary changes to behaviour, or via phenotypic plasticity (e.g. learning, taste aversion). The recent arrival of cane toads (Bufo marinus) in the Northern Territory of Australia induced rapid aversion learning in a predatory marsupial (the common planigale, Planigale maculata). Here, we examine the responses of planigales to cane toads in north-eastern Queensland, where they have been sympatric for over 60 years, to investigate whether planigale responses to cane toads have been modified by long-term exposure. Responses to toads were broadly similar to those documented for toad-nave predators. Most Queensland planigales seized (21 of 22) and partially consumed (11 of 22) the first toad they were offered, but were likely to ignore toads in subsequent trials. However, unlike their toad-nave conspecifics from the Northern Territory, the Queensland planigales all survived ingestion of toad tissue without overt ill effects and continued to attack toads in a substantial proportion of subsequent trials. Our data suggest that (i) learning by these small predators is sufficiently rapid and effective that selection on behaviour has been weak; and (ii) physiological tolerance to toad toxins may be higher in planigales after 60 years (approximately 60 generations) of exposure to this toxic prey. [source]

Native Australian frogs avoid the scent of invasive cane toads

Abstract Invasive species can affect the ecosystems they colonize by modifying the behaviour of native taxa; for example, avoidance of chemical cues from the invader may modify habitat use (shelter site selection) by native species. In laboratory trials, we show that metamorphs of most (but not all) native frog species on a tropical Australian floodplain avoid the scent of invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus Linnaeus 1758). Cane toads also avoid conspecific scent. This response might reduce vulnerability of metamorph frogs and toads to larger predatory toads. However, similar avoidance of one type of pungency control (garlic), and the presence of this avoidance behaviour in frogs at the toad invasion front (and hence, with no prior exposure to toads), suggest that this may not be an evolved toad-specific response. Instead, our data support the simpler hypothesis that the metamorph anurans tend to avoid shelter sites that contain strong and unfamiliar scents. Temporal and spatial differences in activity of frogs versus toads, plus the abundance of suitable retreat sites during the wet season (the primary time of frog activity), suggest that avoiding toad scent will have only a minor impact on the behaviour of native frogs. However, this behavioural impact may be important when environmental conditions bring toads and frogs into closer contact. [source]

An invasive species imposes selection on life-history traits of a native frog

As well as their direct ecological impacts on native taxa, invasive species can impose selection on phenotypic attributes (morphology, physiology, behaviour, etc.) of the native fauna. In anurans, body size at metamorphosis is a critical life-history trait: for most challenges faced by post-metamorphic anurans, larger size at metamorphosis probably enhances survival. However, our studies on Australian frogs (Limnodynastes convexiusculus) show that this pattern can be reversed by the arrival of an invasive species. When metamorph frogs first encounter invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus), they try to eat the toxic invader and, if they are able to do so, are likely to die from poisoning. Because frogs are gape-limited predators, small metamorphs cannot ingest a toad and thus survive long enough to disperse away from the natal pond (and thus from potentially deadly toads). These data show that larger size at metamorphosis can reduce rather than increase anuran survival rates, because larger metamorphs are more easily able to ingest (and thus be poisoned by) metamorph cane toads. Our results suggest that patterns of selection on life-history traits of native taxa (such as size and age at metamorphosis, seasonal timing of breeding and duration of pondside aggregation prior to dispersal) can be modified by the arrival of an invasive species. 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 100, 329,336. [source]