Cane toads

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Wildlife at threat from cane toads: Identification of susceptible frog

David Pearson
Science Division, Dept of Conservation and Land Management,
PO Box 51 Wanneroo WA 6946

ph (08) 9405 5112

Cane toads have clearly impacted on some species, such as the northern quoll, leading to severe population declines in Queensland and the NT. However, our knowledge of the effects of cane toads on most taxa is poor due to; the lack of targeted studies, complications with other factors such as fire and seasonal differences in rainfall, the use of inappropriate sampling strategies and limited pre-toad data. To plan adequate and effective conservation actions to prevent extinctions or precipitous population declines, we need to be able to identify those species at risk, as well as those that can tolerate the presence of cane toads.

This study will complement and build on research being conducted in the NT and proposed in WA, focusing on frog, reptile and small mammal species that have not been examined for their response to cane toads; especially those with restricted distributions around the East Kimberley region. A variety of techniques will be employed including frequent frog and tadpole assemblage surveys (calls and population counts) in a range of wetlands (assistance provided to Dale Roberts, UWA and Paul Doughty, WAM), the collection of road-kill frogs and snakes to determine diets, and radio-telemetry of pythons and known frog-eating snakes with the assistance of volunteers and the local community.

lso proposed is a collaborative study with Ben Phillips and Rick Shine (Uni. of Sydney) on modeling the spread of cane toads by updating an existing database with recent NT information and some direct dietary preference trials with small mammals at the Fogg Dam (NT) study site and at Kununurra. Finally, the study will assess possible management actions to prevent the invasion of particular habitats (such as islands, or high value conservation sites) and to reduce the impact of cane toads in the landscape. This will be achieved by working with other researchers and trialing traps and other techniques as they become available.