You are what you eat: parasite transfer in cannibalistic cane toads

Lígia Pizzatto*, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Pathogen transfer may be an important but poorly understood cost of cannibalism. Does the consumption of smaller conspecifics by Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) result in transfer of viability-reducing parasites such as nematode lungworms (Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala)? Our experimental trials confirm that cannibalistic toads can indeed become infected, and our results are probably the first evidence of macroparasite transmission via intraspecific predation in amphibians. Our results also show that parasites acquired via cannibalism are viable, develop into fertile adults, and reduce the locomotor performance of the hosts. How cannibalism contributes to nematode transmission and spread in natural populations is not known, but we propose a scenario in which this interaction would be likely to increase the lungworm prevalence, intensity, or persistence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Bufo marinus
  • bufonidae
  • disease
  • host-parasite
  • intraspecific predation
  • pathogen
  • Rhinella marina


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