Natural History Photographs

In 1935, the Cane toad Bufo marinus was introduced to Australia to control the Cane beetle. The toad didn't succeed in controlling the beetle, but was highly successful in colonizing all suitable habitats. The toad upsets Australia's wildlife, which evolved in the absence of any toad species. Snakes and lizards that eat the toad die because the toad's skin is poisonous. Although as yet no predator species seems to have gone fully extinct, the impact of the toad on wildlife is huge.

In the Tropical Ecology Reseach Facility, several scientists study the interaction between the toad and local wildlife. Although part of the research aims to somehow control the spread of the toad, the unintended 'experiment' also offers opportunities to study fundamental ecological questions. MSc student Bas Bruning worked on these more fundamental questions.

The Research Facility is located in Middle Point - this village has all but disappeared though! The Facility's buildings are the only remaining part of Middle Point.

Laboratory building Housing for temporary personnel
Tanks for rearing tadpoles Tadpoles in tank
Building were experimental animals are kept Small plots for field experiments
Bas with newly hatched crocodile Newly hatched crocodile - still cute...
Cryptoblepharus plagiocephalus
Skink on laboratory building
Thunderstorm towering over the area

Research impressions

Sam quantifying locomotory behavior of Blue tongued Skink, Tiliqua scincoides.
Bufo marinus kept for experiments Bas injecting a toad
to stimulate amplexus behavior
Measuring strength of amplexus in Bufo marinus

Insect life around the station

The research facility has a small number of buildings, scattered over a huge lawn. Various trees and shrubs grow in the lawn. The area proved to be rather attractive for a variety of wasp species or at least they are readily observed here! You mostly see them flying by, but one tree species appeared to be very attractive to many wasps. Here's a sample of the species I observed.

Wasps: family Vespidae
Pseudabispa paragioides
Feeding at Premna cf. acuminata (Verbenaceae)
Epiodynerus nigrocinctus
Feeding at Premna cf. acuminata (Verbenaceae)

Wasps: family Sphecidae
Sphex spec.
Feeding at Premna cf. acuminata (Verbenaceae)
Ammophila spec.

Miscellaneous Insects & Spider

Anax guttatus
Female ovipositing
far away from any water!