Size matters: Insights from an allometric approach to evaluate control methods for invasive Australian Rhinella marina

Lynne E. Beaty, Christopher J. Salice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Invasive species are costly and difficult to control. In order to gain a mechanistic understanding of potential control measures, individual-based models uniquely parameterized to reflect the salient life-history characteristics of invasive species are useful. Using invasive Australian Rhinella marina as a case study, we constructed a cohort- and individual-based population simulation that incorporates growth and body size of terrestrial stages. We used this allometric approach to examine the efficacy of nontraditional control methods (i.e., tadpole alarm chemicals and native meat ants) that may have indirect effects on population dynamics mediated by effects on body size. We compared population estimates resulting from these control methods with traditional hand removal. We also conducted a sensitivity analysis to investigate the effect that model parameters, specifically those associated with growth and body size, had on adult population estimates. Incremental increases in hand removal of adults and juveniles caused nonlinear decreases in adult population estimates, suggesting less return with increased investment in hand-removal efforts. Applying tadpole alarm chemicals or meat ants decreased adult population estimates on the same level as removing 15-25% of adults and juveniles by hand. The combined application of tadpole alarm chemicals and meat ants resulted in ~80% decrease in adult abundance, the largest of any applied control method. In further support of the nontraditional control methods, which greatly affected the metamorph stage, our model was most sensitive to changes in metamorph survival, juvenile survival, metamorph growth rate, and adult survival. Our results highlight the use and insights that can be gained from individual-based models that incorporate growth and body size and the potential success that nontraditional control methods could have in controlling established, invasive Rhinella marina populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1544-1553
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology


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