The establishment and eradication of an extra-limital population of invasive cane toads

Matthew J. Greenlees*, Stewart Harris, Arthur W. White, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Biological invasions expand not only as a continuous front, but also via translocation of small numbers of individuals to sites far from the main distribution. Detecting and eradicating such satellite populations is critical to curtailing the invasion. Cane toads (Rhinella marina) have been spreading through Australia since 1935, and in 2010 were reported in suburban Sydney, 500 km from the main invasion. The amphibians arrived as stowaways in trucks, and bred successfully in at least 3 years. Local residents noted the toads’ presence long before management authorities. As soon as they recognised the population’s establishment, however, the authorities surveyed locations of toads, assessed toad demography, and culled toads. Radio-tracking revealed the locations of spawning sites, which were then fenced to exclude access. As a result of reproduction, growth, and sex-specific culling (due to sex differences in distribution and catchability), successive years saw major changes in toad abundance, body-size distributions and sex ratios. Rates of infection of toads by parasites (lungworms) increased through time also. Adult male toads were collected primarily from the initial introduction site, whereas adult females were collected from a broader area. A total of > 900 post-metamorphic cane toads and > 5000 earlier life stages were collected, and those efforts (plus predation by rats and birds) exterminated the population (no sightings for the past 3 years). Cane toads will continue to be translocated to sites far outside their main invaded range, but the successful eradication effort suggests that well-integrated programs, with close collaboration among stakeholders, can prevent such populations from establishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2077-2089
Number of pages13
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • alien species
  • Bufo marinus
  • colonisation
  • control

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