The ecological impact of commercial beehives on invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) in eastern Australia

Renee Silvester*, Richard Shine, Benjamin Oldroyd, Matthew Greenlees

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Understanding the factors that affect an invasive species’ viability and distribution has vital implications for biocontrol. In Australia, invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) are anecdotally reported to utilise commercial beehives as a prey resource, but that interaction has never been studied in detail. We investigated the impact of apiaries on cane toads in northern New South Wales via mark-recapture surveys, dissections, and camera-trap observations. Cane toads were the most frequent visitors to apiaries, followed by bandicoots and corvid birds. Cane toads at apiaries were more abundant and in better body condition (i.e., larger mass relative to snout-urostyle length) than were toads at nearby control sites. Toads at beehives contained more prey items per stomach (mostly bees, which were never recorded in the stomachs of toads from other sites), and adult female toads at beehives had larger livers and ovaries relative to body size. We conclude that commercial apiaries attract cane toads, influence their diets, and increase their feeding rates and reproductive capacity. Like other habitat modifications wrought by agricultural activities, honey bee colonies provide resources that facilitate the spread of cane toads through an otherwise harsh landscape matrix. Minor modifications to beehives could exclude toads, thereby eliminating their positive impact on the invader.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1097-1106
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Invasions
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • anuran
  • Apis mellifera
  • Bufo marinus
  • conservation
  • exploitation
  • invasive species

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