Skin resistance to water gain and loss has changed in cane toads (Rhinella marina) during their Australian invasion

Georgia K. Kosmala, Gregory P. Brown, Richard Shine*, Keith Christian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


The water-permeable skin of amphibians renders them highly sensitive to climatic conditions, and interspecific correlations between environmental moisture levels and rates of water exchange across the skin suggest that natural selection adapts hydroregulatory mechanisms to local challenges. How quickly can such mechanisms shift when a species encounters novel moisture regimes? Cutaneous resistance to water loss and gain in wild-caught cane toads (Rhinella marina) from Brazil, USA (Hawai'i) and Australia exhibited strong geographic variation. Cutaneous resistance was low in native-range (Brazilian) toads and in Hawai'ian populations (where toads were introduced in 1932) but significantly higher in toads from eastern Australia (where toads were introduced in 1935). Toads from recently invaded areas in western Australia exhibited cutaneous resistance to water loss similar to the native-range populations, possibly because toads are restricted to moist sites within this highly arid landscape. Rates of rehydration exhibited significant but less extreme geographic variation, being higher in the native range than in invaded regions. Thus, in less than a century, cane toads invading areas that impose different climatic challenges have diverged in the capacity for hydroregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13071-13079
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. 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.


  • abiotic challenges
  • Anura
  • Bufo marinus
  • physiology
  • water balance

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