Toad on the road: Use of roads as dispersal corridors by cane toads (Bufo marinus) at an invasion front in tropical Australia

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Journal Article
Biological Conservation, 2006, 133 (1), pp. 88 - 94
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Determining the factors that influence the rate of spread of invasive species is an important goal for conservation biology. If invasive species utilize specific landscape features as dispersal corridors, control programs can target such corridors. Radio-telemetry was used to determine landscape level factors that influence dispersal of an introduced anuran species (the cane toad) at an invasion front in tropical Australia. Most radio-tracked toads moved along roads and cleared fencelines, avoiding heavily vegetated habitat; they typically sheltered overnight close to these open corridors, returning to the road each evening to recommence dispersal. Surveys of the compass orientation of dispersing toads on roads showed that most animals were oriented along the main axis of the road (and thus, travelling along the road) rather than moving across it. To test the hypothesis that use of roads enables toads to disperse more rapidly than would be possible across more thickly vegetated sites, locomotor performance of toads was quantified under field conditions. As predicted, toads rapidly slowed down in dense roadside vegetation but continued to move rapidly through open areas. These results suggest that simple habitat manipulations of roadside verges might help to reduce the rate of dispersal of cane toads across tropical Australia. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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