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Understanding the dynamics of cane toad dispersal is vital information for scientists helping native animals survive the spread of the poisonous invasive species.
Previous work into the reproduction of cane toads in northern Australia has documented low reproductive frequencies among females at the invasion front.
Now we know, at least in part, why.
"It turns out that male cane toads are more interested in dispersal than sex at the invasion front," said Professor Rick Shine, an emeritus professor in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, who also holds a position at Macquarie University.
Lack - Interest - Means - Period - Terms
This lack of interest means that over a relatively short period in evolutionary terms (about 85 years), the testes of male cane toads are much smaller at the edge of the species' territory.
Writing today in Biology Letters of the Royal Society, Professor Shine and colleague Dr. Chris Friesen from the University of Wollongong, describe how toad testes on the invasion front are about 30 percent smaller than those of male toads in the core of the species' range.
Pioneer - Cane - Toad - Edge - Invasion
"A pioneer cane toad, out at the edge of the invasion, is boldly going where no toad has gone before—and as a result, he isn't likely to meet many other toads out there," Professor Shine said.
"So, when it comes time to breed, he will probably be the only male in the pond when a female comes along. Because his sperm won't have to...
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