Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Toad invasion of Malagasy forests triggers severe mortality of a predatory snake.

Abstract

The Asian common toad Duttaphrynus melanostictus has been introduced to the eastern province of Toamasina in Madagascar, where it is feared to be having devastating effects on native communities by poisoning frog-eating predators. So far it is unclear whether the toad can invade forest habitats, and empirical evidence of its impact on native predators is lacking. We used radio tracking to investigate the spatial behaviour of adult toads in a small parcel of lowland humid forest and we quantify the disruptive effects of toad poisoning on a native frog-eating snake, the Malagasy cat-eyed snake (Madagascarophis colubrinus). We used N-mixture models to estimate the population size of cat-eyed snakes, and used the mortality events recorded in the same area to obtain an estimate of monthly mortality rate of snakes due to toad poisoning. Our results point to a drastic mortality rate of snakes that, if constant through the year, could halve the predator population, with the potential risk of local extirpation. We expect cat-eyed snake populations across rural and suburban areas of Toamasina to be severely affected by the toad invasion, and suggest that future research should investigate the effects of indirect facilitation of human-commensal rodents and the potential repercussions on human health and well-being.