The impact of transportation and translocation on dispersal behaviour in the invasive cane toad
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Biological invasions transport organisms to novel environments; but how does the translocation process influence movement patterns of the invader? Plausibly, the stress of encountering a novel environment, or of the transport process, might induce rapid dispersal from the release site—potentially enhancing (or reducing) invader success and spread. We investigated the effect of transportation and release to novel environments on dispersal-relevant traits of one of the world’s most notorious invaders, the cane toad (Rhinella marina). We collected toads in northern New South Wales from heath and woodland habitats, manipulated the level of transport stress and either returned toads to their exact collection point (residents) or reciprocally translocated them to a novel site. Both translocation and the level of transport stress drastically altered toad dispersal rates for at least 5 days post-release. Translocated toads (depending on their level of transport stress and release habitat) moved on average two to five times further per day (mean range 67–148 m) than did residents (mean range 22–34 m). Translocated toads also moved on more days, and moved further from their release point than did resident toads, but did not move in straighter lines. A higher level of transport stress (simulating long-distance translocation) had no significant effect on movements of resident toads but amplified the dispersal of translocated toads only when released into woodland habitat. These behavioural shifts induced by translocation and transportation may affect an invader’s ability to colonise novel sites, and need to be incorporated into plans for invader control.
KeywordsAlien species Translocation Bufo marinus Dispersal Invasion
We thank Renee Silvester for assistance in the field and Melanie Elphick for helping prepare this manuscript. We also thank the reviewers for their constructive comments. Funding was provided by the Australian Research Council (FL120100074).
Author contribution statement
LP helped design the study, collected field data, conducted statistical analyses and drafted the manuscript. RS and MG conceived, designed and coordinated the study and helped draft the manuscript. All authors gave approval for publication.
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