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A trophic cascade initiated by an invasive vertebrate alters the structure of native reptile communities

Feit, Benjamin and Dempster, Tim and Jessop, Tim S. and Webb, Jonathan K. and Letnic, Mike (2020). A trophic cascade initiated by an invasive vertebrate alters the structure of native reptile communities. Global Change Biology. 26 , 2829-2840
[Journal article]

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Abstract

Invasive vertebrates are frequently reported to have catastrophic effects on the populations of species which they directly impact. It follows then, that if invaders exert strong suppressive effects on some species then other species will indirectly benefit due to ecological release from interactions with directly impacted species. However, evidence that invasive vertebrates trigger such trophic cascades and alter community structure in terrestrial ecosystems remains rare. Here, we ask how the cane toad, a vertebrate invader that is toxic to many of Australia's vertebrate predators, influences lizard assemblages in a semi-arid rangeland. In our study area, the density of cane toads is influenced by the availability of water accessible to toads. We compared an index of the abundance of sand goannas, a large predatory lizard that is susceptible to poisoning by cane toads and the abundances of four lizard families preyed upon by goannas (skinks, pygopods, agamid lizards and geckos) in areas where cane toads were common or rare. Consistent with the idea that suppression of sand goannas by cane toads initiates a trophic cascade, goanna activity was lower and small lizards were more abundant where toads were common. The hypothesis that suppression of sand goannas by cane toads triggers a trophic cascade was further supported by our findings that small terrestrial lizards that are frequently preyed upon by goannas were more affected by toad abundance than arboreal geckos, which are rarely consumed by goannas. Furthermore, the abundance of at least one genus of terrestrial skinks benefitted from allogenic ecosystem engineering by goannas where toads were rare. Overall, our study provides evidence that the invasion of ecosystems by non-native species can have important effects on the structure and integrity of native communities extending beyond their often most obvious and frequently documented direct ecological effects.

Authors/Creators:Feit, Benjamin and Dempster, Tim and Jessop, Tim S. and Webb, Jonathan K. and Letnic, Mike
Title:A trophic cascade initiated by an invasive vertebrate alters the structure of native reptile communities
Year of publishing :2020
Volume:26
Page range:2829-2840
Number of Pages:12
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN:1354-1013
Language:English
Publication Type:Journal article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 106 Biological Sciences (Medical to be 3 and Agricultural to be 4) > Ecology
Keywords:cane toad, direct effects, indirect effects, invasive species, Rhinella marina, semi-arid, trophic cascade, Varanus gouldii
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-105363
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-105363
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1111/gcb.15032
Web of Science (WoS)000526102300010
ID Code:16948
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Ecology
(S) > Dept. of Ecology
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:02 Jun 2020 07:26
Metadata Last Modified:02 Jun 2020 07:26

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