HOPPING MAD: Queensland cane toad.
HOPPING MAD: Queensland cane toad. Max Fleet BUN010216TOAD1

Lusty toads go the distance with mating calls

BIGGER is not always better in the world of cane toads.

North Queensland scientists hopped onto the strange finding while researching effective sounds to lure Queensland's ugliest pest into traps.

James Cook University researchers found cane toads in a whole lot of lust sing their romantic tunes so loudly that lonesome females can hear them up to 120m away.

While the toad's mating call is significantly longer than most other hop-a-long amphibians - bigger, longer and louder calls fail to impress female toads if the source is more than 70m away.

Researcher Benjamin Muller said this was probably because toads needed to hear complex information in the call - for example the the size, energy levels and health of potential mates.

"From far away those details are difficult to discern," he said.

The upside of long-distance love calls?

"This means they are heard by more individuals and can bring in more mates to breed with than some other species," Mr Muller said.

"Also surprising was the fact that male toads respond strongly, and from far away, to mating calls from other males - probably because they signal the presence of water and, eventually, the presence of females they can mate with."

Mr Muller said the research aimed to produce audio-based traps using recorded mating calls as a lure.

"Now we know from how far we can attract the toads we can space the traps for maximum effect," he said.

"It will mean a more efficient set-up and less wasted effort." - ARM NEWSDESK



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