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Cane Toad Wars

by Rick Shine University of California Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 288 pages
AU$69.00 NZ$73.04
Product Status: Out of stock. Not available to order.
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 first-hand 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.

Foreword by Harry W. Greene vii
Preface xi

1 • An Ecological Catastrophe 1
2 • How the Cane Toad Came to Australia 13
3 • Arrival of Cane Toads at Fogg Dam 36
4 • How Cane Toads Have Adapted and Dispersed 55
5 • The Impact of Cane Toads on Australian Wildlife 79
6 • How the Ecosystem Has Fought Back 108
7 • Citizens Take On the Toad 130
8 • The Quest for a Way to Control the Toad 155
9 • A New Toolkit for Fighting the Toad 178
10 • Toad Control Moves from the Lab to the Field 203
11 • What We’ve Learned 228

Acknowledgments 245
Appendix 247
Bibliography and Suggested Reading 251

"This is a gripping narrative, recounted by a scientist with a natural flair for story-telling."
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. He won the (Australian) Prime Ministers Award for Science in 2016 for his work on cane toads.


He has won every major prize for natural history in Australia and is the only person to have won Eureka prizes for science in three categories.