Thursday, 19 March 2015

Native toads avoid aggressive ants

Presented by
Michelle Douglass

Southern toads recognise and avoid an aggressive invasive ant species in the US.

“Our study is the first to reveal that an amphibian, the southern toad, views fire ants as a predator,” said the study’s lead researcher Andrea Long from the University of Florida, Gainesville, US.

Details of the findings are published in the journal Biological Invasions.

Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) – also known as RIFA – predate young amphibians, and their venom is thought to cause death or injury to adult southern toads (Anaxyrus terrestris) that try to eat them.

The invasive ants are similarly venomous to some native fire ants, but they are more aggressive.

RIFAs, which are native to South America, were introduced to the southeastern United States in the 1900s, and have been linked with the decline of amphibians such as the endangered Houston toad (Bufo houstonensis) and the marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum).

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