Australian tadpoles do not avoid chemical cues from invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus)

If invasive species are phylogenetically distinct from native taxa, divergence in intraspecific communication systems may allow control via methods that invoke behavioural responses by the invasives but not by local species. Previous work has exploited sexual signals in this respect (e.g. species-specific mate-attraction pheromones) but there is equal potential to exploit non-sexual signals, such as chemically mediated behavioural responses of anuran larvae.
Cane toads (Bufo marinus), originally from Central and South America, are creating major ecological problems during their invasion through Australia. In an earlier study, we showed that cane toad tadpoles are strongly repulsed by chemical cues from crushed conspecifics, suggesting that these animals possess significant chemical communication systems. To be useful in control of toads, such a response would need to be restricted to cane toads rather than all anurans. In laboratory trials, we detected only minor behavioural responses of six native Australian anuran species to chemical cues from cane toads. Native tadpoles (both hylids and myobatrachids) either ignored the stimulus, or tended to approach it rather than to avoid it. These results are encouraging for the potential use of toad-specific chemicals to manipulate the behaviour of tadpoles in the field, with few collateral effects on native Australian anurans.

Author Mattias Hagman and Richard Shine
Date 17/03/2008
Year 2008
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 35
Number 1
Institution University of Sydney
Department School of Biological Sciences
Pages 59?64
Notes Notes