SUCCESSFUL PREDATION OF INVASIVE SOUTH AMERICAN CANE TOADS (RHINELLA MARINA) BY SOUTHERN WATERSNAKES (NERODIA FASCIATA)
Keywords:Invasive species, Bufotoxin, Predation, Natracine, Bufonidae, Resistance
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.
Copyright (c) 2021 Jordan Donini
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Copyright is held by the authors. Articles in JNAH are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license.