Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

Breeding-site selection by cane toads (Bufo marinus) and native frogs in northern New South Wales, Australia

M. Semeniuk A , F. Lemckert A B and R. Shine A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Biological Sciences A08, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

B Forest Science Centre, Department of Primary Industries, PO Box 100, Beecroft, NSW 2119, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: rics@bio.usyd.edu.au

Wildlife Research 34(1) 59-66 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR06112
Submitted: 21 August 2006  Accepted: 14 December 2006   Published: 27 February 2007


Previous research on cane toads (Bufo marinus) has documented non-random selection of breeding sites by this invasive species. In the wet–dry tropics of the Northern Territory, toads selected spawning sites in open areas with gently sloping banks and shallow water. If consistent, such biases may present opportunities for toad control via waterbody manipulation – but first we need to know whether such criteria for spawning-site selection (1) are consistent across other parts of the toad’s extensive Australian range, and (2) differ from those of native anurans breeding at the same waterbodies. We quantified the attributes of potential and actual spawning-sites in north-eastern New South Wales, in temperate-zone habitat where cane toads have been present for many decades; our study area thus differs in many ways from the previously studied tropical site. We compared habitat and water chemistry variables between 23 cane toad breeding sites and 23 nearby unused sites. To examine habitat use at an even finer scale, we conducted nocturnal surveys of microhabitat use by calling male toads and native anurans. Our results revealed that cane toads in this region were highly selective in their choice of breeding sites, and that the criteria they used in this respect were similar to those used by toads in the Northern Territory. Calling male cane toads also used microhabitats non-randomly within each pond, apparently based on similar criteria to those used when selecting among ponds. Toads differed significantly from native anurans in these respects, suggesting that it may be feasible to manipulate waterbody attributes to impact on invasive toads without disrupting reproduction by native anurans.


We thank M. Hagman, M. Fitzgerald, T. Pizzuto, J. Nicholl, N. Coleman, R. Jago, L. Wellman, H. Bower and N. Graham for advice and assistance. This project was conducted under permits from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the Department of Environment and Conservation.


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