Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Shrinking before our isles: the rapid expression of insular dwarfism in two invasive populations of guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis).

Abstract

Island ecosystems have traditionally been hailed as natural laboratories for examining phenotypic change, including dramatic shifts in body size. Similarly, biological invasions can drive rapid localized adaptations within modern timeframes. Here, we compare the morphology of two invasive guttural toad (Sclerophrys gutturalis) populations in Mauritius and RĂ©union with their source population from South Africa. We found that female toads on both islands were significantly smaller than mainland counterparts (33.9% and 25.9% reduction, respectively), as were males in Mauritius (22.4%). We also discovered a significant reduction in the relative hindlimb length of both sexes, on both islands, compared with mainland toads (ranging from 3.4 to 9.0%). If our findings are a result of natural selection, then this would suggest that the dramatic reshaping of an amphibian's morphology-leading to insular dwarfism-can result in less than 100 years; however, further research is required to elucidate the mechanism driving this change (e.g. heritable adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, or an interaction between them).