Effects of conspecific lures, call playbacks, and moonlight on the capture rate of Xenopus laevis, a major invasive amphibian.
Given the status of the African clawed frog Xenopus laevis as a global amphibian invader, and the potential spread of its invasive populations in Europe and other continents, it is essential to identify the environmental factors and methods that maximize the trapping output of control actions. Cost-effective methods should maximize the number of trapped individuals, and preferably the number of females. We tested five types of attractants in traps, split into two categories: playbacks and conspecific lures, and compared their efficiency in terms of number of trapped individuals (total, females, and males) against the control method currently in use in France (use of food bait). We also estimated the influence of moonlight, an environmental factor known to affect amphibian activity. Playback methods did not increase the capture probability for either sex. In contrast, using a female as a lure allowed us to trap both more individuals (224% compared to the control), more females (186%) and more males (190%), whereas using a male only allowed us to trap more males (167%). These effects were stronger under low moonlight intensity, and at the end of the breeding season. Using female lures appeared to be the best method, both due to a higher number of trapped individuals and a higher number of trapped females. Our study also emphasizes the need for considering the influence of the lunar cycle when planning fieldwork to optimize the cost-efficiency of control actions. We recommend to preferentially set traps under low moonlight intensities.