Exploiting intraspecific competitive mechanisms to control invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina)

Michael R. Crossland, Takashi Haramura, Angela A. Salim, Robert J. Capon, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


If invasive species use chemical weapons to suppress the viability of conspecifics, we may be able to exploit those species-specific chemical cues for selective control of the invader. Cane toads (Rhinella marina) are spreading through tropical Australia, with negative effects on native species. The tadpoles of cane toads eliminate intraspecific competitors by locating and consuming newly laid eggs. Our laboratory trials show that tadpoles find those eggs by searching for the powerful bufadienolide toxins (especially, bufogenins) that toads use to deter predators. Using those toxins as bait, funnel-traps placed in natural waterbodies achieved near-complete eradication of cane toad tadpoles with minimal collateral damage (because most native (non-target) species are repelled by the toads' toxins). More generally, communication systems that have evolved for intraspecific conflict provide novel opportunities for invasive-species control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3436-3442
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1742
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • alien species
  • anuran larvae
  • biocontrol
  • Bufo marinus
  • wildlife management

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