Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Tadpoles of invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) do not respond behaviourally to chemical cues from tadpoles of four species of Australian frogs

Mattias Hagman A B C and Richard Shine A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

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

B Present address: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Zoology 56(4) 211-213
Submitted: 10 January 2008  Accepted: 14 October 2008   Published: 22 December 2008


In previous work, we have shown that tadpoles of invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus) strongly avoid scent cues from crushed conspecific tadpoles. Thus, identifying the identity of the chemical involved may provide novel approaches to toad control, by manipulating the behaviour of toad tadpoles. A first step in the search for that chemical is to see whether toad tadpoles are similarly repelled by chemical cues from crushed tadpoles of other species. Our experimental trials with four native Australian frogs (three hylids, one myobatrachid) show that toads do not respond to chemical cues from these taxa. Hence, the specific chemicals that induce avoidance cannot be generic ones (e.g. body fluids, tissue fragments) but instead, must reflect some underlying chemical divergence in body composition between the tadpoles of cane toads versus the other anurans that we have tested.


We thank the Department of Environment and Climate Change, and the Australian Research Council, for funding. Frank Lemckert and Kris Rogers helped us collect frog eggs. Melanie Elphick and Sam Ruggeri provided technical assistance and help with animal husbandry. Isabel Walter translated papers from German. The study was approved by the University of Sydney Animal Care and Ethics Committee (approval number L04/5-2004/3/3908).


Beroza, M. , and Knipling, E. F. (1972). Gypsy moth control with sexual attractant pheromone. Science 177, 19–27.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Brennan, P. A. , and Zufall, F. (2006). Pheromonal communication in vertebrates. Nature 444, 308–315.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

Brown, G. E. , Poirier, J. F. , and Adrian, J. C. (2004). Assessment of local predation risk: the role of subthreshold concentrations of chemical alarm cues. Behavioral Ecology 15, 810–815.
CrossRef |

Burnett, S. (1997). Colonising cane toads cause population declines in native predators: reliable anecdotal information and management implications. Pacific Conservation Biology 3, 65–72.

Clark, J. A. , Boersma, P. D. , and Olmsted, D. M. (2006). Name that tune: call discrimination and individual recognition in Magellanic penguins. Animal Behaviour 72, 1141–1148.
CrossRef |

Eibl-Eibesfeldt, I. (1949). Uber das Vorkommen von Schreckstoffen bei Erdkrotenquappen. Experientia 5, 236.
CrossRef | CAS | PubMed |

El-Sayed, A. M. , Suckling, D. M. , Wearing, C. H. , and Byers, J. A. (2006). Potential mass trapping for long-term pest management and eradication of invasive species. Journal of Economic Entomology 99, 1550–1564.
CAS | PubMed |

Frost D. R. , Grant T. , Faivovich J. , Bain R. H. , Haas A. , et al (2006). The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History No. 297.

Gosner, K. L. (1960). A simplified table for staging anuran embryos and larvae with notes on identification. Herpetologica 16, 183–190.

Hagman, M. , and Shine, R. (2008a). Understanding the toad code: behavioural responses of cane toad (Chaunus marinus) larvae and metamorphs to chemical cues. Austral Ecology 33, 37–44.

Hagman, M. , and Shine, R. (2008b). Australian tadpoles do not avoid chemical cues from invasive cane toads (Bufo marinus). Wildlife Research 35, 59–64.
CrossRef |

Hrbacek, I. (1950). On the flight reaction of tadpoles of the common toad caused by chemical substances. Experientia 6, 100–101.
CrossRef | CAS |

Knight, M. E. , and Turner, G. F. (1999). Reproductive isolation among closely related lake Malawi cichlids: can males recognize conspecific females by visual cues? Animal Behaviour 58, 761–768.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Kulzer, E. (1954). Untersuchungen über die Schreckreaktion der Erdkrotenkaulquappen (Bufo bufo). Zeitschrift fur Vergleichende Physiologie 36, 443–463.
CrossRef |

Lever C. (2001). ‘The Cane Toad. The History and Ecology of a Successful Colonist.’ (Westbury Publishing: Otley, West Yorkshire.)

Lever C. (2003). ‘Naturalized Reptiles and Amphibians of the World.’ (Oxford University Press: Oxford.)

Molloy K. L. , and Henderson W. R. (Eds) (2006). Science of cane toad invasion and control. In ‘Proceedings of the IA CRC/CSIRO/Qld NRM&W Cane Toad Workshop, June 2006, Brisbane’. (Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre, University of Canberra: Canberra.)

Oakwood, M. (2004). Case of the disappearing spots. Nature Australia 28, 26–35.

Pelozuelo, L. , and Frerot, B. (2006). Behaviour of male European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis Hubner (Lep.; Crambidae) towards pheromone-baited delta traps, buckets and wire mesh cone traps. Journal of Applied Entomology 130, 230–237.
CrossRef |

Pfeiffer, W. (1966). Die Verbreitung der Schreckreaktion bei Kaulquappen und die Herkunft des Schreckstoffes. Journal of Comparative Physiology. A, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology 52, 79–98.

Phillips, B. L. , Brown, G. P. , and Shine, R. (2003). Assessing the potential impact of cane toads on Australian snakes. Conservation Biology 17, 1738–1747.
CrossRef |

Rajchard, J. (2006). Antipredator pheromones in amphibians: a review. Veterinarni Medicina 51, 409–413.

Rodda G. H. , Sawai Y. , Chiszar D. , and Tanaka H. (1999). ‘Problem Snake Management: the Habu and the Brown Treesnake.’ (Comstock Publishing Associates: Ithaca, NY.)

Wassersug R. J. (1997). Assessing and controlling amphibian populations from the larval perspective. In ‘Amphibians in Decline: Canadian Studies of a Global Problem’. Herpetological Conservation No. 1 (Ed. D. M. Green.) pp. 271–281. (Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles: St Louis, MO.)

Rent Article (via Deepdyve) Export Citation Cited By (1)