Thursday, 7 February 2019

Cane toads: What they do in the shadows


January 21, 2019, Macquarie University
Cane toads are picking up some shady habits, according to a new study co-authored by a Macquarie University researcher.
Toads in Western Australia have been spotted awake and active during the day in deeply shaded habitats, despite the species usually being nocturnal in Australia and other parts of the world.
However nearby cane toad populations at more exposed sites remained only active at night.
"We didn't expect them to change such a fundamental behaviour," says Dr. Simon Clulow from Macquarie's Department of Biological Sciences. "Particularly given their nocturnal neighbours were only four to seven kilometres away."
"This suggests that cane toads are particularly good at changing their behaviour in response to their environment, something known as behavioural plasticity, which might assist their invasive spread into new environments."
The research, which was published in Scientific Reports overnight, looked at cane toad populations near the invasion front in El Questro Wilderness Park in WA's Kimberley region from 2013 to 2015. It's research that has consequences for managing Australia's cane toad plague.
The toads first arrived at the sites studied in 2012 or 2013.

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