Environment Deadly love song could be the answer to our cane toad woes

Deadly love song could be the answer to our cane toad woes

It’s the beat that could help beat the spread of cane toads.

James Cook University (JCU) researchers say they’ve found the perfect toad tune that could help sound the death knell for the pests.

JCU’s Ben Muller placed cane toad ‘audio traps’ with differing characteristics at various sites in the Townsville region.

The team was particularly interested in attracting reproductive female toads carrying eggs.

“A female cane toad can lay upwards of 20,000 eggs per clutch so removing a single female with eggs from the population is more effective for control than removing a single male,” said Mr Muller.

The lower and louder the frequency and the higher the pulse, the better. The scientists found that around nine in ten of the females trapped using a loud, low frequency tone with a high pulse rate were reproductive.

“We think that low frequency calls indicate to female toads that they are hearing a large-bodied male and the high pulse rate means the male making the call has high energy reserves,” said Mr Muller.

“These things combine to make them believe they have found a good breeding partner.”

Mr Muller said the finding may help suppress toad numbers, but it was not a silver bullet.

“Large-scale eradication of cane toads from mainland Australia using traps is probably not possible,” he said.

“However, eradication of island populations could be achievable if the trapping regime was correctly designed and implemented.”.

The research will be used by Animal Control Technologies Australia to help create a commercial trap.

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