Wildfires modify the parasite loads of invasive cane toads

Shannon W. Kaiser, Matthew J. Greenlees, Richard Shine

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    5 Citations (Scopus)
    61 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The frequency and severity of wildfires are increasing due to anthropogenic modifications to habitats and to climate. Post-fire landscapes may advantage invasive species via multiple mechanisms, including changes to host-parasite interactions. We surveyed the incidence of endoparasitic lungworms (Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala) in invasive cane toads (Rhinella marina) in near-coastal sites of eastern Australia, a year after extensive fires in this region. Both the prevalence of infection and number of worms in infected toads increased with toad body size in unburned areas. By contrast, parasite load decreased with toad body size in burned areas. By killing moisture-dependent free-living lungworm larvae, the intense fires may have liberated adult cane toads from a parasite that can substantially reduce the viability of its host. Smaller toads, which are restricted to moist environments, did not receive this benefit from fires.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20210470
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalBiology Letters
    Volume17
    Issue number12
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2021. 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

    • Bufo marinus
    • habitat change
    • host–parasite
    • invasive species

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