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Keywords:

  • alarm pheromone;
  • invasive species;
  • repellent;
  • Schreckstoff;
  • tadpole

Abstract  Larvae of many anuran taxa display strong behavioural responses to chemical cues, including alarm signals from injured conspecific tadpoles. We exposed tadpoles and metamorphs from an Australian population of the invasive cane toad (Chaunus[Bufo] marinus) to a range of chemical stimuli and quantified their responses both in the laboratory and in the field. Filtered fluids containing scent cues from crushed conspecifics elicited strong avoidance from tadpoles, whereas other cues (e.g. scent of food, of native-range fish or urodele predators, and thermal stimuli) did not. Apparent aggregation of tadpoles in response to scent cues proved to be an artifact of tank design, and was an indirect consequence of avoidance of those cues. Field trials confirmed that free-ranging toad tadpoles and metamorphs avoided chemical cues from crushed conspecifics, suggesting that the chemicals inducing this response might provide an opportunity to develop targeted control methods for this invasive species.