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The accelerating anuran: evolution of locomotor performance in cane toads (Rhinella marina, Bufonidae) at an invasion front.


ABSTRACT: As is common in biological invasions, the rate at which cane toads (Rhinella marina) have spread across tropical Australia has accelerated through time. Individuals at the invasion front travel further than range-core conspecifics and exhibit distinctive morphologies that may facilitate rapid dispersal. However, the links between these morphological changes and locomotor performance have not been clearly documented. We used raceway trials and high-speed videography to document locomotor traits (e.g. hop distances, heights, velocities, and angles of take-off and landing) of toads from range-core and invasion-front populations. Locomotor performance varied geographically, and this variation in performance was linked to morphological features that have evolved during the toads' Australian invasion. Geographical variation in morphology and locomotor ability was evident not only in wild-caught animals, but also in individuals that had been raised under standardized conditions in captivity. Our data thus support the hypothesis that the cane toad's invasion across Australia has generated rapid evolutionary shifts in dispersal-relevant performance traits, and that these differences in performance are linked to concurrent shifts in morphological traits.

SUBMITTER: Hudson CM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7735276 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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