Host-parasite relationships during a biologic invasion

75 years postinvasion, cane toads and sympatric Australian frogs retain separate lungworm faunas

Lígia Pizzatto*, Crystal Kelehear, Sylvain Dubey, Diane Barton, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


Invasive species may carry with them parasites from their native range, differing from parasite taxa found in the invaded range. Host switching by parasites (either from the invader to native fauna or from native fauna to the invader) may have important consequences for the viability of either type of host (e.g., their survivorship, fecundity, dispersal ability, or geographic distribution). Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala (Nematoda) is a common parasite of cane toads (Rhinella marina) in the toad's native range (South and Central America) and also in its introduced Australian range. This lungworm can depress host viability and is capable of infecting Australian frogs in laboratory trials. Despite syntopy between toads and frogs for up to 75 yr, our analyses, based on DNA sequence data of lungworms from 80 frogs and 56 toads, collected from 2008 to 2011, did not reveal any cases of host switching in nature: toads and native frogs retain entirely different lungworm faunas. All lungworms in cane toads were the South and Central American species Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala, whereas Australian frogs contained at least four taxa (mostly undescribed and currently lumped under the name Rhabdias cf. hylae). General patterns of prevalence and intensity, based on the dissection of 1,315 frogs collected between 1989 and 2011 across the toads' Australian range, show that these Australian endemic Rhabdias spp. are widely distributed geographically and across host taxa but are more common in some frog species (especially, large-bodied species) than they are in others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)951-961
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Wildlife Diseases
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Australian frogs
  • biologic invasion
  • Bufo marinus
  • dynamics
  • host-parasite
  • nematode
  • patterns of occurrence

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