The interacting effects of ungulate hoofprints and predatory native ants on metamorph cane toads in tropical Australia

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Abstract

Many invasive species exploit the disturbed habitats created by human activities. Understanding the effects of habitat disturbance on invasion success, and how disturbance interacts with other factors (such as biotic resistance to the invaders from the native fauna) may suggest new ways to reduce invader viability. In tropical Australia, commercial livestock production can facilitate invasion by the cane toad (Rhinella marina), because hoofprints left by cattle and horses around waterbody margins provide distinctive (cool, moist) microhabitats; nevertheless the same microhabitat can inhibit the success of cane toads by increasing the risks of predation or drowning. Metamorph cane toads actively select hoofprints as retreat-sites to escape dangerous thermal and hydric conditions in the surrounding landscape. However, hoofprint geometry is important: in hoofprints with steep sides the young toads are more likely to be attacked by predatory ants (Iridomyrmex reburrus) and are more likely to drown following heavy rain. Thus, anthropogenic changes to the landscape interact with predation by native taxa to affect the ability of cane toads in this vulnerable life-history stage to thrive in the harsh abiotic conditions of tropical Australia. © 2013 Cabrera-Guzmán et al.

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Cabrera-Guzmán, E., Crossland, M. R., González-Bernal, E., & Shine, R. (2013). The interacting effects of ungulate hoofprints and predatory native ants on metamorph cane toads in tropical Australia. PLoS ONE, 8(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0079496

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