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Catfish get smart, avoid cane toads

The toxins produced by cane toads kill many Australian predators that eat them. But to date, the potential economic impact of the cane toad invasion has attracted little attention.

Toads have recently arrived at Lake Argyle in north-eastern Western Australia. The area supports a commercial fishery for silver cobbler (or shovel-nosed catfish), raising concern that the toads may inflict significant economic damage by killing fish.

Researchers gave catfish in the lab the opportunity to eat cane toad eggs. Some catfish ate toad eggs and died; but most catfish avoided the eggs. Catfish readily consumed toad tadpoles at both early and late developmental stages, but didn’t die. They soon learned not to consume this toxic new prey type.

Read more at CSIRO

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