Is the behavioural divergence between range-core and range-edge populations of cane toads (Rhinella marina) due to evolutionary change or developmental plasticity?

Jodie Gruber*, Gregory Brown, Martin J. Whiting, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    34 Citations (Scopus)
    7 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Individuals at the leading edge of expanding biological invasions often show distinctive phenotypic traits, in ways that enhance their ability to disperse rapidly and to function effectively in novel environments. Cane toads (Rhinella marina) at the invasion front in Australia exhibit shifts in morphology, physiology and behaviour (directionality of dispersal, boldness, risk-taking). We took a common-garden approach, raising toads from range-core and range-edge populations in captivity, to see if the behavioural divergences observed in wild-caught toads are also evident in common-garden offspring. Captive-raised toads from the invasion vanguard population were more exploratory and bolder (more prone to ‘risky’ behaviours) than toads from the range core, which suggests that these are evolved, genetic traits. Our study highlights the importance of behaviour as being potentially adaptive in invasive populations and adds these behavioural traits to the increasing list of phenotypic traits that have evolved rapidly during the toads’ 80-year spread through tropical Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number170789
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalRoyal Society Open Science
    Volume4
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2017. 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

    • Adaptation
    • Bufo marinus
    • Evolution
    • Spatial sorting

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