Invasive cane toads adapting quickly to Australia’s extremes

Locomotor performance of cane toads differs between native-range and invasive populations.

Many of the most critical current challenges in conservation biology involve predicting a species’ ability to spread into new areas that present novel challenges.

When dealing with an introduced invasive species like the Cane Toad, that issue is central to predicting the species ultimate spread, and its ability to respond to climate change by altering its distribution.

If range expansion elicits rapid shifts in the traits that confer ability to survive in novel environments, predictions made based on native populations of an invasive species may be grossly in error.

Our study comparing native and introduced populations of cane toads indicates that the species’ tolerance of hydric and thermal extremes has shifted dramatically since their introduction to Australia.

Our data challenge the widespread assumption that we can rely upon ancestral trait values to predict organismal responses to rapid range expansion.

Source: The Royal Society

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