Sunday, 8 July 2012

Australia to bait and trap cane toads – via Herp Digest

SYDNEY, June 13 (UPI) -- Australian scientists say the poison invasive cane toads use to devastate native species could be turned into a weapon against the toads themselves.
Researchers at the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, have determined the poison can be used as 'bait' in traps set in bodies of water to catch toad tadpoles.
The biggest hurdle to eliminating cane toads is that a single clutch of eggs laid at a time by one female can number 30,000 or more, they said.
"This means that even if you catch and kill 99 percent of the adult toads in an area, the few that are left can produce so many offspring that before you know it you are back to where you started -- just as many cane toads as ever," Sydney researcher Rick Shine said.
The scientists found secretions from the shoulder glands of dead toads can be used to bait traps, as it is cheap, easy to obtain and highly attractive to cane toad tadpoles but repels the tadpoles of native frogs.
"A chemical 'bait' created from the toads' poison is a real magnet for [cane] toad tadpoles," Shine said.
"When we use this chemical as bait in a funnel-trap we catch thousands of toad tadpoles and almost nothing else," he said. "In one natural pond, we collected more than 40,000 toad tadpoles in less than a week. And I think we got them all -- over the next few weeks, not a single toad emerged from that pond."
Cane toads, initially brought into the country to control beetles threatening sugar cane plantations, are spreading through tropical Australia with a devastating impact on native species, researchers said.
For a photo of Rick Shine:

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