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Aussie meat ants may be invasive cane toad's Achilles' heel
Date:3/30/2009

vegetation or other shelters during the day, when meat ants are on the hunt.

Cane toads are also less well equipped to escape attacking meat ants, Team Bufo found. Using a specially-built runway, they tested the frogs' and toads' sprint speed and endurance. They found that compared with the quick and nimble native frogs, cane toads' hops are shorter and slower due to their shorter shin bones. Native frogs were also more vigilant for meat ants than cane toads, they discovered.

The results are interesting not only because they reveal the cane toad's Achilles' heel a weakness that could be exploited to help control the spread of the toxic toad but because the same "evolutionary trap" could be used to snare invasive species elsewhere.

"The end result of this mismatch between traits of metamorph cane toads, which evolved in the Americas, and the ecological interaction between metamorph toads and meat ants in tropical Australia, is an 'evolutionary trap'. That is, characteristics that increased toad survival where they evolved in the Americas are now a disadvantage, because the toads are facing different challenges in Australia challenges they have not evolved to deal with. Such evolutionary traps should be especially common for invasive species, because so many aspects of their environment differ from those in which the traits of that species evolved," says Shine.


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Contact: Melanie Thomson
melanie.thomson@wiley.com
44-186-547-6270
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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