We will Stop the Cane Toads getting into WA!
The Kimberley Toad Busters are the only truly totally volunteer group
on the ground (since the 10th Sept. 2005) trying to stop the cane toad
from getting across the Western Australian border. To date we have
largely met all field expenses from community fund raising efforts, local government input and community donations, the
ongoing support of Biodiversity Protection Inc (and recently a comittment of $79,000 from the Federal Government) .
Despite the State Government committment of half a million dollars towards the cane toad fight, this local volunteer
group has not received one dollar of this money. Eight months later this volunteer group is sustainable only because of
local community financial input and the belief that we have provided, for the first time in 70 years, an ability to 'hold' the
cane toad front line while government and scientists find a 'biological' solution to the relentless march of the cane toad.
Ross A. Alford, Mark N. Hearnden, Martin P. Cohen and Michael R. Crossland
School of Tropical Biology, James Cook University , Townsville, Qld. 4811
Between 1986 and 1999, we carried out a large-scale study of the ecology and population dynamics of cane toads centred on the Townsville region in North Queensland, where toads had then been established for about 40 years; Calvert Hills, in the Gulf country of the N.T, where they first arrived in the 1985-86 wet season and Heathlands Ranger Base in Cape York Peninsula, where they first arrived in 1991. We monitored several populations of adults in Townsville and Calvert Hills for 6 years each, each region, and determined their reproductive rates and the survival rates of eggs, tadpoles, and early post-metamorphic individuals, and how these are affected by the physical and biological environment. We carried out additional monitoring and experimental work at Heathlands.
All populations of cane toads fluctuated dramatically over time. We found no clear and consistent differences between new and established populations. Activity levels and detectability of cane toads near water bodies varied dramatically from day to day, and was only moderately affected by recent weather conditions. New populations reached levels similar to established populations within the first 2 years following establishment. Survival rates of all life history stages were relatively low and highly variable, with strong evidence for density dependent survival of eggs, larvae, and post-metamorphic juveniles. This density dependence indicates that control measures that reduce the density of these life history stages may be counterproductive; reducing their density may leave more, or more fit, juveniles to survive to adulthood. Many species of native predatory animals were capable of consuming cane toad eggs and tadpoles; a major exception to this was the tadpoles of native frogs, which attacked cane toad eggs and succumbed to their toxins. Body condition and local densities of adults were strongly influenced by the general availability of water, both seasonally and annually. Water is clearly a limiting resource for cane toads in Australian tropical savannas, and controlling their densities when aggregated near water in the dry season may be the most effective means of control of local populations.