Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Researchers jump to a conclusion on toads' breeding lair (Via HerpDigest)

Researchers jump to a conclusion on toads' breeding lair
Nicky Phillips Science,The AGe.com, 4/20/11

AT LAST, the secret hideaway of cane toads has been found.

In the largest investigation of its kind, scientists and council workers used radio tracking devices to uncover Sydney's first known breeding site for the pests: a pond in an industrial park in the Sutherland Shire.

And after tracking and capturing about 500 toads, scientists believe they have stopped the pests taking a foot-hold in the city.

The mayor of Sutherland, Phil Blight, said the occasional ''hitch-hiking'' cane toad had been found in the Taren Point industrial area over several years.

''But last year our pest control officer found increasing numbers and we suspected there was breeding occurring,'' he said.

The council asked people to report any sightings, organised volunteer toad musters and trained a young labrador to sniff out the pests.

Then researchers from the University of Sydney were brought in to attach radio tracking devices to the backs of several cane toads - and within a few days, the toads' lair had been found.
So far the onslaught seems to be working, Cr Blight said, adding this year the numbers appeared to be declining considerably.

A cane toad researcher from the University of Sydney, Rick Shine, said the program was a terrific example of a co-ordinated attack on a potentially serious problem.

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