In 1935, an Australian government agency imported 101 specimens of the Central and South American Cane Toad in an attempt to manage insects devastating sugar cane harvests. The Cane Toad had been introduced in other places, but in Australia it adapted and evolved with abandon, voraciously consuming native wildlife and killing predators with its lethal skin toxin. Today, hundreds of millions of Cane Toads have spread across the northern part of Australia and continue to move westward. The humble Cane Toad has become a national villain.
Cane Toad Wars chronicles the research of intrepid scientist Rick Shine and his work to document the toad’s ecological impact in Australia and to buffer that impact. Despite predictions of devastation in the wake of advancing toad hordes, the author’s research reveals a more complex and nuanced story. A firsthand account of an intriguing ecological problem and an important exploration of how we measure evolutionary change and ecological resilience, this book makes an effective case for the value of long-term natural history research in informing conservation practice.
Rick Shine is Professor of Biology at the University of Sydney. He has published more than a thousand scientific papers on the ecology of reptiles and amphibians, and he has received a host of national and international awards for his research.