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Toads on Lava: Spatial Ecology and Habitat Use of Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Hawai'i.


ABSTRACT: Most ecological research on cane toads (Rhinella marina) has focused on invasive populations in Australia, ignoring other areas where toads have been introduced. We radio-tracked and spool-tracked 40 toads, from four populations on the island of Hawai'i. Toads moved extensively at night (mean 116 m, from spool-tracking) but returned to the same or a nearby retreat-site each day (from radio-tracking, mean distance between successive retreat sites 11 m; 0 m for 70% of records). Males followed straighter paths during nocturnal movements than did females. Because moist sites are scarce on the highly porous lava substrate, Hawai'ian toads depend on anthropogenic disturbance for shelter (e.g. beneath buildings), foraging (e.g. suburban lawns, golf courses) and breeding (artificial ponds). Foraging sites are further concentrated by a scarcity of flying insects (negating artificial lights as prey-attractors). Habitat use of toads shifted with time (at night, toads selected areas with less bare ground, canopy, understory and leaf-litter), and differed between sexes (females foraged in areas of bare ground with dense understory vegetation). Cane toads in Hawai'i thrive in scattered moist patches within a severely arid matrix, despite a scarcity of flying insects, testifying to the species' ability to exploit anthropogenic disturbance.

SUBMITTER: Ward-Fear G 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4814139 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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