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Article     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 33(5)

Indirect impacts of invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) on nest predation in pig-nosed turtles (Carettochelys insculpta)

J. S. Doody A C, B. Green A, R. Sims B, D. Rhind A, P. West A, D. Steer A

A Applied Ecology Research Group, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
B School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University, ACT 0200, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: doody@aerg.canberra.edu.au
 
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Abstract

The cane toad (Bufo marinus) was introduced into Australia in 1935. Because this toxic frog is novel to the Australian fauna, its introduction has impacted native fauna in a variety of ways. We anticipated a severe decline in the yellow-spotted monitor lizard (Varanus panoptes) associated with the arrival of cane toads along the Daly River, Northern Territory, and predicted a simultaneous impact on nest predation in the pig-nosed turtle (Carettochelys insculpta) because the lizard is the chief predator of C. insculpta eggs at the site. We surveyed for monitors and cane toads for five years at two sites before and after the arrival of cane toads, and surveyed for turtle nest predation for three years before, and one year after, the arrival of the toads. Collectively, our data and observations, combined with unpublished reports, indicate that: (1) cane toads arrived at our study sites during the wet seasons of 2003–04 and 2004–05; (2) the lizard V. panoptes readily succumbs to cane toad toxins; (3) . panoptes has experienced a marked decline in relative population numbers coincident with the arrival of the toads at the site; and (4) V. panoptes has been reduced to such low numbers that it is currently no longer a significant predator of pig-nosed turtle eggs.

   
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