Comparisons through time and space suggest rapid evolution of dispersal behaviour in an invasive species

Alford, Ross A., Brown, Gregory P., Schwarzkopf, Lin, Phillips, Benjamin L., and Shine, Richard (2009) Comparisons through time and space suggest rapid evolution of dispersal behaviour in an invasive species. Wildlife Research, 36 (1). pp. 23-28.

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During a biological invasion, we expect that the expanding front will increasingly become dominated by individuals with better dispersal abilities. Over many generations, selection at the invasion front thus will favour traits that increase dispersal rates. As a result of this process, cane toads (Bufo marinus) are now spreading through tropical Australia about 5-fold faster than in the early years of toad invasion; but how have toads changed to make this happen? Here we present data from radio-tracking of free-ranging cane toads from three populations (spanning a 15-year period of the toads’ Australian invasion, and across 1800 km). Our data reveal dramatic shifts in behavioural traits (proportion of nights when toads move from their existing retreat-site to a new one, and distance between those successive retreat-sites) associated with the rapid acceleration of toad invasion. Over a maximum period of 70 years (~50 generations), cane toads at the invasion front in Australia apparently have evolved such that populations include a higher proportion of individuals that make long, straight moves.

Item ID: 5613
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1448-5494
Keywords: tropical biology, cane toad, Bufo marinus, movement, radiotracking, space use
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2009 01:55
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0603 Evolutionary Biology > 060303 Biological Adaptation @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050103 Invasive Species Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9604 Control of Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species > 960414 Control of Plant Pests, Diseases and Exotic Species in Forest and Woodlands Environments @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960806 Forest and Woodlands Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
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