The interacting effects of ungulate hoofprints and predatory native ants on metamorph cane toads in tropical Australia

Elisa Cabrera-Guzmán, Michael R. Crossland, Edna González-Bernal, Richard Shine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Many invasive species exploit the disturbed habitats created by human activities. Understanding the effects of habitat disturbance on invasion success, and how disturbance interacts with other factors (such as biotic resistance to the invaders from the native fauna) may suggest new ways to reduce invader viability. In tropical Australia, commercial livestock production can facilitate invasion by the cane toad (Rhinella marina), because hoofprints left by cattle and horses around waterbody margins provide distinctive (cool, moist) microhabitats; nevertheless the same microhabitat can inhibit the success of cane toads by increasing the risks of predation or drowning. Metamorph cane toads actively select hoofprints as retreat-sites to escape dangerous thermal and hydric conditions in the surrounding landscape. However, hoofprint geometry is important: in hoofprints with steep sides the young toads are more likely to be attacked by predatory ants (Iridomyrmex reburrus) and are more likely to drown following heavy rain. Thus, anthropogenic changes to the landscape interact with predation by native taxa to affect the ability of cane toads in this vulnerable life-history stage to thrive in the harsh abiotic conditions of tropical Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere79496
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

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Copyright the Author(s) 2013. 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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