Cane toads

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Movement and dispersal in established
and invading toad populations

Lin Schwarzkopf, Ben Phillips & Ross Alford

Dispersal is a key part of the biology of all organisms. The dispersal ability of introduced species can determine their success in new environments, and influences their impact on native species. One method of predicting dispersal tendencies is to use details of the movement patterns gathered from real animals to create an individual-based model that allows population spread to be simulated. We tracked real toads in different environments in “established” and “invading” populations, and used parameters measured to create an empirically based, correlated, random walk model of toad movements. We found that our model simulated real toad movements well, especially in the wet season. Real toad movements were less extensive than the model’s movements in the dry season. Both established and invading populations showed similar kinds of nomadic movement. Models of this kind could be used to simulate spread of toads into uninhabited areas.