Cam and wallaby

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

Current Research

The focus of my PhD research is to investigate phenotypic evolution in the invasive cane toad (Rhinella marina) across its invaded Australian habitat, with emphasis on adaptations for dispersal. Since their introduction in 1935, toads have rapidly expanded their range to occupy 1.2 million square kilometres of Australia, and are predicted to occupy 2 million square kilometres as they continue to colonize new areas. The invasion has caused massive ecological disturbances to native fauna, and the rate of invasion is increasing annually, with invasion-front toads exhibiting higher dispersal rates and greater relative leg lengths than conspecifics from long-established populations. These changes suggest that vanguard toads are adapting to invaded environments, and evolving high-dispersal phenotypes, thereby increasing the rate of colonization.

toad on road

Because the current distribution of toads spans multiple habitat types, I expect geographically disparate populations to exhibit different phenotypes to cope with environmental challenges. To examine the phenotypic evolution of Rhinell marina, I will compare the morphology, locomotor performance and dispersal behaviours of individuals from long-established populations (Queensland) to recently invaded areas (Western Australia), their native range (Venezuela), and an earlier introduction (Hawaii). To determine heritability of toad phenotypes I will conduct common garden experiments at the Top End Research Facility in Middle Point, comparing F1 individuals to their parents. Rhinella marina provides exceptional opportunities for the study of phenotypic evolution because of precise historical records, a wide geographic range, extensive prior research, and a single source of origin in time and space.


Year Details
2013- PhD student, Evolutionary Biology, University of Sydney
2012 MSc, Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
2010 BSc (Hons), Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada


# Publication

Hudson, C.M., and J. Fu. 2013. Male-biased sexual size dimorphism, resource defense polygyny, and multiple paternity in the Emei Moustache Toad (Leptobrachium boringii). PLoS ONE 8(6): e67502. **Featured in New Scientist Magazine (#2925, 13 July, 2013)

2. Hudson, C.M., He, X., and J. Fu. 2011. Keratinized nuptial spines are used for male combat in the Emei Moustache Toad (Leptobrachium boringii). Asian Herpetological Research 2(3): 142-148.
1. Hudson, C.M. 2010. Species Account. Pickerel frog / Grenouille des marais (Lithobates palustris). Opinicon Natural History.
toads in pipe


Year Title



Male biased sexual size dimorphism, resource defense polygyny, and combat in the Emei Moustache Toad (Leptobrachium boringii). Oral presentation. Invited Speaker, Ecology, Evolution and Behaviour (EEB) Seminar Series, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
2012 Reproductive behaviour and male combat in the Emei Moustache Toad (Leptobrachium boringii). Oral presentation. Invited Speaker, World Herpetology Congress VII, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (jointly with J. Fu)
2012 Male-biased sexual size dimorphism and nest takeover in an Asian toad with weaponized moustaches. Poster Presentation. First Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology, Ottawa Convention Centre, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (jointly with J. Fu)
2011 Previously undocumented territoriality and male combat in the Emei Moustache Toad, Leptobrachium boringii. Oral presentation. OE3C (Ontario Ethology, Ecology and Evolution Colloquium) XXXX, University of Toronto, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada (jointly with J. Fu)
2010 Male mating tactics and hybridization between secondary contact populations of a temperate tree frog species. Poster presentation. CSEE (Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution) V, Laval University, Québec City, Québec, Canada (jointly with K.A. Stewart and S.C. Lougheed)

Grants and Awards

Year Award
2013 University of Sydney International Scholarship (UsydIS)
2012 Richard and Sophia Hungerford Graduate Travel Grant
2012 NSERC GGSF Travel Award
2011 Ontario Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (OGSST)


Year Details
2011 Animal Behaviour (Zool 4070), University of Guelph
2010 Vertebrate Structure and Function (Biol 2090), University of Guelph