Cane toads (Rhinella marina) rely on water access, not drought tolerance, to invade xeric Australian environments

George A. Brusch, Keith Christian, Greg P. Brown, Richard Shine, Dale F. DeNardo

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The invasion of habitats with novel environmental challenges may require physiological tolerances not seen in conspecifics from the native range. We used a combination of field and laboratory-based experiments to assess physiological tolerance to limited water access at four sites distributed across the historical invasion path of cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Australia that, from east to west, alternated between mesic and seasonally xeric habitats. Toads from all locations were well hydrated at the time of capture. However, experimental dehydration caused greater mass loss, higher plasma osmolality, and inhibition of lytic ability in toads from xeric compared to mesic locations. These results suggest somewhat surprisingly that toads from xeric environments are physiologically more vulnerable to water loss. In contrast, bactericidal ability was not sensitive to hydric state and was greater in toads from eastern (long-colonized) areas. Similar patterns in lytic ability in hydrated toads and agglutination ability in wild toads suggest that toads along the invasion front face a tradeoff between enhanced dispersal ability and physiological responses to dehydration. The ability of this invasive species to spread into drier environments may be underpinned by a combination of phenotypic plasticity and evolved (heritable) traits.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-316
    Number of pages10
    JournalOecologia
    Volume189
    Issue number2
    Early online date8 Dec 2018
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

    Fingerprint

    Bufo marinus
    toad
    toads
    marina
    drought tolerance
    tolerance
    drought
    dry environmental conditions
    water
    dehydration
    agglutination
    osmolality
    phenotypic plasticity
    physiological response
    invasive species
    habitat
    plasma
    habitats

    Cite this

    Brusch, George A. ; Christian, Keith ; Brown, Greg P. ; Shine, Richard ; DeNardo, Dale F. / Cane toads (Rhinella marina) rely on water access, not drought tolerance, to invade xeric Australian environments. In: Oecologia. 2019 ; Vol. 189, No. 2. pp. 307-316.
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    abstract = "The invasion of habitats with novel environmental challenges may require physiological tolerances not seen in conspecifics from the native range. We used a combination of field and laboratory-based experiments to assess physiological tolerance to limited water access at four sites distributed across the historical invasion path of cane toads (Rhinella marina) in Australia that, from east to west, alternated between mesic and seasonally xeric habitats. Toads from all locations were well hydrated at the time of capture. However, experimental dehydration caused greater mass loss, higher plasma osmolality, and inhibition of lytic ability in toads from xeric compared to mesic locations. These results suggest somewhat surprisingly that toads from xeric environments are physiologically more vulnerable to water loss. In contrast, bactericidal ability was not sensitive to hydric state and was greater in toads from eastern (long-colonized) areas. Similar patterns in lytic ability in hydrated toads and agglutination ability in wild toads suggest that toads along the invasion front face a tradeoff between enhanced dispersal ability and physiological responses to dehydration. The ability of this invasive species to spread into drier environments may be underpinned by a combination of phenotypic plasticity and evolved (heritable) traits.",
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    Cane toads (Rhinella marina) rely on water access, not drought tolerance, to invade xeric Australian environments. / Brusch, George A.; Christian, Keith; Brown, Greg P.; Shine, Richard; DeNardo, Dale F.

    In: Oecologia, Vol. 189, No. 2, 02.2019, p. 307-316.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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