Greg Clarke

Greg with stick insect

Email:
Phone: 08 8984 9137
Location: Tropical Ecology Research Facility, Middle Point Village, Northern Territory


Current Research

Cane toads are not only a problem to native wildlife as an adult, but are also a toxic presence in freshwater bodies as tadpoles. Throughout my Honours project, my research will focus on the effects of aquatic cues produced by freshwater biota on the development of cane toad tadpoles. I am particularly interested in an aquatic cue, produced by toad tadpoles, that suppresses the growth and development of conspecific embryos. The consequences caused by this cue on development are so great that exposed embryos will almost always perish before metamorphosis is complete.

toad eggs

Under the supervision of Dr Michael Crossland and Prof. Rick Shine, I will be exploring the effectiveness and usability of the suppression cue as an agent for toad control. One of the best ways to reduce the numbers of toads along invasion fronts is to target toad tadpoles. This way it is possible to target thousands of potential toads in a single sweep of a pond. The first part of my research will be aimed at identifying and describing what causes the suppression of the embryos. This will involve testing a range of chemical candidates previously extracted from cane toad tadpoles, and looking at how toad embryos are affected. The second part will look at the effects of the suppression cue on native tadpoles, and whether native tadpoles themselves produce a similar cue affecting other native tadpoles or toad tadpoles. It is likely that the cue is a lineage-specific trait and therefore have little effect on native species.