SUCCESSFUL PREDATION OF INVASIVE SOUTH AMERICAN CANE TOADS (RHINELLA MARINA) BY SOUTHERN WATERSNAKES (NERODIA FASCIATA)

Authors

  • Jordan Donini Florida southwestern state college
  • J. Sean Doody Department of Integrative Biology, University of South Florida

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.17161/jnah.vi.14952

Keywords:

Invasive species, Bufotoxin, Predation, Natracine, Bufonidae, Resistance

Abstract

South American Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) have been introduced into several regions outside of their native distribution. Outside of their native range, few predators have been documented preying upon R.marina due to their potent toxins secreted in defense. However, prevalence of a toxin resistance gene makes it possible for some snakes of the sub-family Natricinae to consume native toads. We documented successful consumption of the invasive cane toad by the Southern Watersnake (Nerodia fasciata) in southwest Florida, both in the wild and in the laboratory. Southern Watersnakes from populations that existed both with and without cane toads successfully consumed toad prey without obvious ill-effect. Southern Watersnakes in southwest Florida are thus resistant to, and readily consume cane toads, an otherwise relatively predator-free invasive species in Florida. More dietary field data and controlled experiments that measure resistance to multiple prey items, sizes, and frequency will serve to determine the extent to which Southern Watersnakes can impact the size and structure of sympatric populations of cane toads.

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Published

2021-06-09