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New Kingston, Jamaica

Wilson B.S.,University of the West Indies | Wilson B.S.,Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group | Koenig S.E.,Windsor Research Center | van Veen R.,University of the West Indies | And 3 more authors.
Biological Invasions | Year: 2010

The notorious "cane toad" (Bufo marinus) is considered to be one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world. A native of South and Central America, Mexico, and the Rio Grande Valley of the United States, this large toad was intentionally introduced to islands in the Caribbean, and subsequently throughout the southern Pacific, as a biological control agent to combat sugar cane pests. Unfortunately, the primary result of those introductions has been deleterious impacts on native biotas, primarily through competition and predation. More recently, the cane toad has devastated populations of amphibian-eating predators in Australia, through the ingestion of this highly toxic anuran. Elsewhere, however, the impact of the toad on native predators has not been documented. Here we report the first evidence that the cane toad is impacting native predators in other geographic regions. Specifically, we document death due to cane toad poisoning in the endemic and threatened Jamaican boa (Epicrates subflavus). To our knowledge, this is the first report of cane toads causing mortality in naturally occurring predators outside of Australia. Like all members of the genus, B. marinus secretes a powerful bufogenin toxin, which is often fatal if ingested by naïve species that have not co-evolved with Bufo species. Our results should therefore serve as a warning that other endemic predator species in the West Indies and elsewhere may be at risk. Thus, efforts to control the population growth and spread of cane toads may be of even greater conservation concern than previously recognized. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Lewis D.S.,University of the West Indies | Lewis D.S.,Jamaican Iguana Recovery Group | Lewis D.S.,The ire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity | van Veen R.,University of the West Indies | And 3 more authors.
Biological Invasions | Year: 2010

This study documents impacts of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes auropunctatus) on a threatened endemic fauna occurring in a biodiversity hotspot within a hotspot, the Hellshire Hills, Jamaica. We analyzed the stomach contents of 217 mongooses and supplemented this information with behavioural observations. The mongoose's diet consists primarily of invertebrates and lizards, but bird feathers, mammal hair, and a small number of seeds were also recorded. Invertebrates and lizards accounted for 93% of identified prey items. Of special concern were the remains of threatened species such as the recently re-discovered blue-tailed galliwasp (Celestus duquesneyi), indicating that the mongoose may represent a considerable threat to this poorly known taxon. Dietary analyses did not reveal remains of the Critically Endangered Jamaican iguana (Cyclura collei), yet field observations confirmed that the mongoose is a potent predator of hatchling iguanas. Ignoring issues of sample size, this suggests that the analysis of stomach contents alone may mask important demographic impacts attributable to the mongoose (or other predator species). In other words, rare and endangered species may not be detected in diet samples, but the impact of predation may be of demographic significance for effected prey taxa. This study supports previous arguments concerning the negative impact of the mongoose on endemic insular species, and underscores the utility of employing field observations of mongoose foraging behaviour to provide important insights into the conservation implications of predation by non-native predators. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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