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Old 04-22-2010, 08:30 AM
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Default Measuring Energetics and Behaviour in Cane Toads

Cane toads Bufo marinus were introduced to Australia as a control agent but now have a rapidly progressing invasion front and damage new habitats they enter. Predictive models that can give expansion rates as functions of energy supply and feeding ground distribution could help to maximise control efficiency but to date no study has measured rates of field energy expenditure in an amphibian. In the present study we used the accelerometry technique to generate behavioural time budgets and, through the derivation of ODBA (overall dynamic body acceleration), to obtain estimates of energetics in free ranging cane toads. This represents the first time that accelerometers have been used to not only quantify the behaviour of animals but also assign to those behaviours rates of energy expenditure. Firstly, laboratory calibrations between ODBA and metabolic rate were obtained and used to generate a common prediction equation for the subject toads. Furthermore, acceleration data recorded during different behaviours was studied to ascertain threshold values for objectively defining behaviour categories. Importantly, while subsequent accelerometer field deployments were relatively short they agreed with previous studies on the proportion of time that cane toads locomote yet suggest that the metabolic rate of cane toads in the wild may sometimes be considerably higher than might be assumed based on data for other species.

Measuring energy expenditure and behaviour in small ectotherms is difficult due to present data logger sizes and temperature effects on metabolism, however technology is rapidly addressing the former while the latter can be accounted for. The stage is now set for detailed studies of the combined behavioural and metabolic budgeting of species and individuals in the field, using the accelerometry technique.

Measuring Energetics and Behaviour Using Accelerometry in Cane Toads Bufo marinus. 2010 PLoS ONE 5(4): e10170. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010170

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