Embryonic exposure to conspecific chemicals suppresses cane toad growth and survival

Michael R. Crossland, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Adaptations to suppress the viability of conspecifics may provide novel ways to control invasive taxa. The spread of cane toads (Rhinella marina) through tropical Australia has had severe ecological impacts, stimulating a search for biocontrol. Our experiments show that cane toad tadpoles produce waterborne chemical cues that suppress the viability of conspecifics encountering those cues during embryonic development. Brief (72 h) exposure to these cues in the egg and posthatching phasesmassively reduced rates of survival and growth of larvae. Body sizes atmetamorphosis (about threeweeks later)were almost twice as great in control larvae as in tadpole-exposed larvae. The waterborne cue responsible for these effects might provide a weapon to reduce toad recruitment within the species' invaded range.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-229
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • alien species
  • Anura
  • Bufo marinus
  • competition
  • larva
  • pheromonal communication

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