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Invasive cane toads might initiate cascades of direct and indirect effects in a terrestrial ecosystem

Feit, Benjamin, Gordon, Christopher E., Webb, Jonathan K., Jessop, Tim S., Laffan, Shawn W., Dempster, Tim and Letnic, Mike 2018, Invasive cane toads might initiate cascades of direct and indirect effects in a terrestrial ecosystem, Biological invasions, vol. 20, no. 7, pp. 1833-1847, doi: 10.1007/s10530-018-1665-8.

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Title Invasive cane toads might initiate cascades of direct and indirect effects in a terrestrial ecosystem
Author(s) Feit, Benjamin
Gordon, Christopher E.
Webb, Jonathan K.
Jessop, Tim S.ORCID iD for Jessop, Tim S. orcid.org/0000-0002-7712-4373
Laffan, Shawn W.
Dempster, Tim
Letnic, Mike
Journal name Biological invasions
Volume number 20
Issue number 7
Start page 1833
End page 1847
Total pages 15
Publisher Springer Verlag
Place of publication Berlin, Germany
Publication date 2018-07
ISSN 1387-3547
1573-1464
Keyword(s) Cane toad
Invasive species
Rhinella marina
Semi-arid
Trophic cascade
Varanus gouldii
Summary Understanding the impacts that invasive vertebrates have on terrestrial ecosystems extends primarily to invaders’ impacts on species with which they interact directly through mechanisms such as predation, competition and habitat modification. In addition to direct effects, invaders can also initiate ecological cascades via indirect population level effects on species with which they do not directly interact. However, evidence that invasive vertebrates initiate ecological cascades in terrestrial ecosystems remains scarce. Here, we ask whether the invasion of the cane toad, a vertebrate invader that is toxic to many of Australia’s vertebrate predators, has induced ecological cascades in a semi-arid rangeland. We compared activity of a large predatory lizard, the sand-goanna, and abundances of smaller lizards preyed upon by goannas in areas of high toad activity near toads’ dry season refuges and areas of low toad activity distant from toads’ dry season refuges. Consistent with the hypothesis that toad invasion has led to declines of native predators susceptible to poisoning, goanna activity was lower in areas of high toad activity. Consistent with the hypothesis that toad-induced goanna decline lead to increases in abundance the prey of goannas, smaller lizards were more abundant in areas of high toad activity. Structural equation modelling showed a positive correlation between goanna activity and distance from dry season refuge habitats used by toads. The abundances of small lizards was correlated negatively with goanna activity and distance from dry season refuges of toads. Our findings provide support for the notion that invasions by terrestrial vertebrates can trigger ecological cascades.
Language eng
DOI 10.1007/s10530-018-1665-8
Field of Research 05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2018, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30108077

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.