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In the evolutionary arms race between cane toads and lungworms, skin secretions play a surprising role

By Martin Mayer, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Animal Ecology, Aarhus University
Rick Shine, Professor in Evolutionary Biology, Macquarie University
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Unlike many other species of amphibians, the cane toad is thriving. It was introduced to Australia (and other places, such as Hawaii) to get rid of pest insects in sugar cane plantations. It had no effect on the pest insects, but soon after its introduction in 1935 it began to spread over large parts of the country.

And it didn’t come alone. Cane toads brought with them a parasite from their native range in South America, the lungworm nematode Rhabdias pseudosphaerocephala.

This invasion provides an ideal model to study the evolutionary “arms race” by which hosts…


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