Invasive cane toads

social facilitation depends upon an individual's personality

Edna González-Bernal, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


Individual variation in behavioural traits (including responses to social cues) may influence the success of invasive populations. We studied the relationship between sociality and personality in invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) from a recently established population in tropical Australia. In our field experiments, we manipulated social cues (the presence of a feeding conspecific) near a food source. We captured and compared toads that only approached feeding sites where another toad was already present, with conspecifics that approached unoccupied feeding sites. Subsequent laboratory trials showed correlated personality differences (behavioural syndromes) between these two groups of toads. For example, toads that approached already-occupied rather than unoccupied feeding sites in the field, took longer to emerge from a shelter-site in standardized trials, suggesting these individuals are 'shy' (whereas toads that approached unoccupied feeding stations tended to be 'bold'). Manipulating hunger levels did not abolish this difference. In feeding trials, a bold toad typically outcompeted a shy toad under conditions of low prey availability, but the outcome was reversed when multiple prey items were present. Thus, both personality types may be favored under different circumstances. This invasive population of toads contains individuals that exhibit a range of personalities, hinting at the existence of a wide range of social dynamics in taxa traditionally considered to be asocial.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere102880
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright the Author(s) 2014. 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.

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