First study to demonstrate long-term control of cane toads

February 03, 2015

Preventing cane toads from entering man-made dams to cool down in the hot, arid zones of Australia kills them in large numbers and is an effective way to stop their spread, UNSW-led research shows.

"This is the first study to demonstrate long-term control of cane toads," says study lead author, UNSW Associate Professor Mike Letnic.

"Our approach of erecting toad-proof fences around dams could work on a large scale to halt their march across the continent, because most of the areas that these toxic amphibians will invade in future are semi-arid or arid."

The study is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

Pastoralists build dams to provide water for livestock such as cattle, but these man-made sources of water attract toads and have vastly increased the areas that the pests can invade.

"Cane toads need water to survive and we have previously shown they use the dams as refuges in the hot, dry periods. They enter the water during the day to cool down and rehydrate. Then, when the rainy period returns, they move on from these dry season refuges into new territory," says Associate Professor Letnic, of the UNSW School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences.

"This behaviour helps explain why they are so successful as an invasive species."

To determine the impact of restricting access to the water, the researchers constructed small fences from shade cloth around three dams in the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory and maintained them for a year. Toads could not jump over the fences or burrow under them.

"The toads were still attracted to the water but they died en masse while attempting to settle at the fenced dams. Their numbers remained suppressed for a further year. By comparison, there were 10 to 100 times more toads living at the unfenced dams that were used as controls in the study," says Associate Professor Letnic.

"By excluding toads from dams, we converted their invasion refuges into ecological traps and thwarted their spread."

The researchers suggest pastoralists and wildlife agencies in semi-arid and arid regions could work together to fence out toads at dams, or replace dams with tanks.

"If conducted strategically, excluding toads from man-made water sources could effectively control their populations across large areas of Australia and relieve the impacts that cane toads are having on native predators and dung beetles," says Associate Professor Letnic.
-end-
The team included scientists from the University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Melbourne.

Media contacts

Associate Professor Mike Letnic
+ 612 9385 2079/9448
m.letnic@unsw.edu.au

UNSW Science media officer Deborah Smith
+ 612 9385 7307
+ 61 (o) 478 492 060
deborah.smith@unsw.edu.au

University of New South Wales

Related Water Articles from Brightsurf:

Transport of water to mars' upper atmosphere dominates planet's water loss to space
Instead of its scarce atmospheric water being confined in Mars' lower atmosphere, a new study finds evidence that water on Mars is directly transported to the upper atmosphere, where it is converted to atomic hydrogen that escapes to space.

Water striders learn from experience how to jump up safely from water surface
Water striders jump upwards from the water surface without breaking it.

'Pregnancy test for water' delivers fast, easy results on water quality
A new platform technology can assess water safety and quality with just a single drop and a few minutes.

Something in the water
Between 2015 and 2016, Brazil suffered from an epidemic outbreak of the Zika virus, whose infections occurred throughout the country states.

Researchers create new tools to monitor water quality, measure water insecurity
A wife-husband team will present both high-tech and low-tech solutions for improving water security at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Seattle on Sunday, Feb.

The shape of water: What water molecules look like on the surface of materials
Water is a familiar substance that is present virtually everywhere.

Water, water everywhere -- and it's weirder than you think
Researchers at The University of Tokyo show that liquid water has 2 distinct molecular arrangements: tetrahedral and non-tetrahedral.

What's in your water?
Mixing drinking water with chlorine, the United States' most common method of disinfecting drinking water, creates previously unidentified toxic byproducts, says Carsten Prasse from Johns Hopkins University and his collaborators from the University of California, Berkeley and Switzerland.

How we transport water in our bodies inspires new water filtration method
A multidisciplinary group of engineers and scientists has discovered a new method for water filtration that could have implications for a variety of technologies, such as desalination plants, breathable and protective fabrics, and carbon capture in gas separations.

Source water key to bacterial water safety in remote Northern Australia
In the wet-dry topics of Australia, drinking water in remote communities is often sourced from groundwater bores.

Read More: Water News and Water Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.