A biological invasion impacts ecosystem services: cane toads change the rate of scavenging and the suite of scavengers

Lachlan Pettit*, Georgia Ward-Fear, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

By affecting the abundance of key native species, invasive taxa may disrupt ecosystem services. In Australia, large monitor lizards (Varanus spp.) play critical roles as scavengers and apex predators. Our broadscale surveys (across two transects, 1300 and 2500 km) show that in tropical areas where the arrival of fatally toxic cane toads (Rhinella marina) has massively reduced the abundance of monitors (Varanus panoptes), rates of removal of deployed baits are more than halved, and the assemblages of scavengers are dominated by birds or mammals rather than reptiles. In contrast, populations of another monitor species in eastern Australia (Varanus varius) were little affected by toad arrival, as were scavenging rates and assemblages. The mechanisms responsible for those shifts, and their consequences on ecosystem services, warrant further research.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03488
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEcosphere
Volume12
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Bufo marinus
  • facultative scavenger
  • invasive
  • trophic cascade
  • trophic networks
  • Varanidae

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