Hot off the press! Toads at the invasion front are more prone to explore and take risks

By Jodie Gruber

The cane toad (Rhinella marina) has been spreading rapidly across northern Australia since its introduction to control sugar cane beetles in 1935. While toads have been the focus of considerable research, we still have a poor understanding of how behavioiural traits vary across the range, particularly with respect to traits that enhance dispersal, such as boldness and exploratory behavior. One advantage of dispersing into new habitats is the availability of new resources and lowered competition. Cane toads from the vanguard of the ongoing Australian invasion were more exploratory and likely to take risks in novel arenas than were toads from long-colonised populations. Results from this research suggest that dispersal-enhancing behavioural traits may be important drivers of invasion success in cane toads. The research, carried out by PhD student Jodie Gruber under the supervision of Rick Shine, Greg Brown (University of Sydney), and the Lizard Lab’s Martin Whiting, has just been published in the journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociology.

Gruber, J., Brown, G., Whiting, M. J., & Shine, R. (2017). Geographic divergence in dispersal-related behaviour in cane toads from range-front versus range-core populations in Australia. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 71(2), 38. doi: 10.1007/s00265-017-2266-8.

E-mail Jodie for a PDF: jodie.gruber (at) sydney.edu.au

"Cane

The infamous cane toad (Rhinella marina).

Jodie Gruber – PhD student. Jodie is registered at Sydney University, but she is co-supervised by Rick Shine, Gregg Brown and Martin Whiting.

Jodie and one of the participants in her study.

DSC_1837

Jodie in the toad room.

Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Take a listen to Julia Riley discussing our latest publication on the influence of social environment on learning in tree skinks (Egernia striolata). The interview was with Marc Fennell on ABC radio.

This work, led by Julia, has been published in Animal Cognition:

Riley, JL., Noble, DWA., Byrne, RW., Whiting, MJ. 2016. Does social . . . → Read More: Julia Riley interviewed on ABC radio!

Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

By Julia Riley

A family-living lizard’s ability to navigate through a complex maze is not linked to how they were raised

We have found that the learning ability of the Tree Skink, a lizard that lives with family, is not linked to growing up with others. These lizards were . . . → Read More: Skinks and Ladders: A family-living lizard’s learning ability is not affected by their home environment

Dispatches from the field: frogging at the DMZ

After attending the 8th World Congress of Herpetology in China, I had a night and a day in South Korea before flying on to my next destination, the US. What to do? As it turned out, I had a windfall (thanks Julia). I met Amaël Borzée, a PhD student from Seoul National University. Amaël . . . → Read More: Dispatches from the field: frogging at the DMZ

The 8th World Congress of Herpetology

Note: the following post is by Julia Riley and also posted on her web page.

On 14 August 2016, a small contingent of the Lizard Lab headed from Sydney, Australia to Hangzhou, China for the 8th World Congress of Herpetology. Our fearless leader, Martin Whiting, as well as James Baxter-Gilbert and I were the Lizard . . . → Read More: The 8th World Congress of Herpetology

The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy

Book Review

A Riley & Whiting Collaboration

Julia Riley’s Review:

First, I would like to say as an expat Canadian researcher, I am happy to say that two Canadian professors wrote this book! Woot!

This book proposes a means to tackle the effect corporatization of higher education has on universities. Their ‘Slow’ Professor Manifesto . . . → Read More: The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy

Why do winners keep winning?

by Fonti Kar

Animals often find themselves in direct competition with other individuals for resources and mates. Because fighting is costly, many species honestly signal their fighting ability to avoid injury (non-escalated fights). For example, in flat lizards (Platysaurus broadleyi), males can resolve dominance status by displaying their UV-reflective throats to their opponent. . . . → Read More: Why do winners keep winning?

Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!

Lizard Lab associate and honorary member Dr. James O’Hanlon has produced a fantastic mini-documentary about Julia Riley’s PhD work on tree skinks (Egernia striolata) and family living.

The documentary offers some great views of our Albury study site and the amazing lizards! It asks the question why are animals social, and talks about what . . . → Read More: Awesome new mini-documentary on Julia Riley’s PhD and social lizards!

Lizard Lab word cloud

Lizard Lab word cloud based on titles and key words from about 35 recent papers. Martin made this instead of working on an important research grant. It somehow seemed much more fun at the time. It does nicely sum up the research in the lab . . . → Read More: Lizard Lab word cloud

Territoriality in a snake

While there are snakes that have been shown to be territorial in an ecological context, such as Taiwanese kukrisnakes which defend sea turtle nests (citation below), territoriality in a sexual selection context has never been demonstrated in a snake. Until now. Jonno Webb has been studying broadheaded and small-eyed snakes in Morton National Park, . . . → Read More: Territoriality in a snake