Navigation Links
Invasive plant protects Australian lizards from invasive toad: Study
Date:2/23/2012

An invasive plant may have saved an iconic Australian lizard species from death at the hands of toxic cane toads, according to research published in the March issue of The American Naturalist. It's an interesting case of one invasive species preparing local predators for the arrival of another, says Richard Shine, a biologist at the University of Sydney who led the research.

Cane toads were introduced in Australia in the 1930s to control beetles that destroy sugar cane crops, but the toads quickly became an ecological disaster of their own. They produce toxins called bufadienolides, which have proven deadly to many native Australian species that feed on frogs and toads.

Bluetongue lizards are one of the vulnerable species, and their numbers began to shrink significantly after the toads arrived in northern Australia. But there's reason to believe that bluetongue populations elsewhere Australia will fare better as the toads spread across the continent.

"Our study was stimulated by a puzzling observation that arose during research on the ecological impacts of invasive cane toads in Australia," Shine and his colleagues write. "Some lizard populations were vulnerable to bufotoxins whereas others were notand the populations with high tolerance to bufotoxins included some that had never been exposed to toads."

Why would these populations have evolved a tolerance to the toad toxin when no toads were present?

The answer, according to Shine and his colleagues, is likely an invasive plant species known as mother-of-millions, which happens to produce a toxin that's virtually identical to that of the cane toad. After it was imported from Madagascar as a decorative plant some 70 years ago, mother-of-millions has since run amok in parts of Queensland and New South Whales and become part of the diet for local bluetongues.

Shine and his colleagues collected bluetongues from places with and without mother-of-millions, and injected each of them with a tiny amount of cane toad toxin. They found that toads from places where mother-of-millions is common had less of a reaction than those from places where it was absent. The results suggest that the plant drove strong selection for lizards that could tolerate bufotoxinsa remarkable example of evolution over a relatively short period of some 20 to 40 generations of lizards.

"Now it appears we have a population of eastern bluetongue lizards that are able to defend themselves well against cane toadseven though they've never actually met onewhereas the devastation of the cane toads on the northwestern lizard population continues," Shine said. "Eating this plant has pre-adapted the eastern blueys against cane toad poisons."

The Australian government has spent millions trying to deal with the toads and mitigate their ecological impact, but Shine's work suggests the eastern bluetongues might not need much help.

"We're now able to focus our conservation dollars on those populations that can't care for themselves," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Kevin Stacey
kstacey@press.uchicago.edu
401-284-3878
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Frost & Sullivan Recognizes AOptix Technologies for its Pioneering Contribution to Security through Noninvasive Biometrics
2. Marine invasive species advance 50km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
3. Marine invasive species advance 50 km per decade, World Conference on Marine Biodiversity told
4. Climate change opens new avenue for spread of invasive plants
5. Invasive plants challenge scientists in face of environmental change
6. Climate changes impact on invasive plants in Western US may create restoration opportunities
7. Holy guacamole: invasive beetle threatens Floridas avocados
8. Invasives threaten salmon in Pacific Northwest
9. Study predicts when invasive species can travel more readily by air
10. Aussie meat ants may be invasive cane toads Achilles heel
11. North America works to halt invasive species
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Invasive plant protects Australian lizards from invasive toad: Study
(Date:4/26/2016)... April 27, 2016 Research ... Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal ... 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal ... sectors such as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid patients in ... clinical standard in telehealth thanks to a new partnership ... platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track key health measurements, ... index, and, when they opt in, share them with ... a local retail location at no cost. By leveraging ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , March 22, 2016 ... report "Electronic Sensors Market for Consumer Industry by Type ... Others), Application (Communication & IT, Entertainment, Home ... Global Forecast to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, ... expected to reach USD 26.76 Billion by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... ... Cambridge Semantics, the leading provider of Smart Data analytic and data ... to The Silicon Review’s “20 Fastest Growing Big Data Companies of 2016.” , ... of end users facing some of the most complex data challenges in the industry,” ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... The Pittcon Organizing Committee is pleased to ... been a volunteer member of Committee since 1987. Since then, he has served in ... treasurer and was chairman for both the program and exposition committees. In his professional ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... 27, 2016 NanoStruck Technologies ... NSKQB) ( Frankfurt : 8NSK) gibt ... vom 13. August 2015 die Genehmigung von der ... zusätzliche 200.000.000 Einheiten auf 400.000.000 Einheiten zu erhöhen, ... Davon wurden 157.900.000 Einheiten mit dem ersten Teil ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... The Board of Directors ... of John Tilton as Chief Commercial Officer.  Mr. Tilton joined Biohaven from Alexion ... commercial leaders responsible for the commercialization of multiple orphan drug indications. Mr. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: