Cane toad has surprise effect on Australian ecosystem

The toxic cane toad introduced to Australia in the 1930s is causing ripples through the ecosystem in ways rarely seen when invasive species spread.

We know that toads poison their predators, but this seems to allow other prey species to bounce back. It is a rare piece of solid evidence for an invasive species causing what is called a "trophic cascade" in the wild, researchers say, where killing off top predators has unexpected effects throughout an ecosystem.Simon Clulow from the University of Newcastle in Australia and his colleagues tracked the toad population as they conquered new territory in Western Australia. This was a unique opportunity to track the initial effects on other animals in the area. They measured the populations of three species of predatory water monitors that eat the toads, and the crimson finch Neochmia phaeton, which are prey for the monitors.

Read more at the New Scientist website.

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