Natural History Photographs

Tropical Ecology Research Facility

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 succesful 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 disapperared 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 plagicephalos
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)

Bidentodynerus bicolor

Epiodynerus nigrocinctus
Feeding at Premna cf. acuminata (Verbenaceae)

Rhynchium superbum

Delta campaniforme

Euodynerus succincta

Ropalidia romandi

Wasps: family Sphecidae
Sphex spec. Chalybion bengalense

Prionyx   saevus
Sphex spec.
Feeding at Premna cf. acuminata (Verbenaceae)

Ammophila spec.

Sceliphron laetum

Chrysididae: Stilbum superbum

Apidae: Thyreus nitidus nitidus

Miscellaneous Insects & Spider
Bombyliidae: Thraxan luteus
Micropezidae: Mimegralla australica

Anax guttatus
Female ovipositing
far away from any water!


Macrostristria spec.

Dysdercus spec.

Arachnida: Argiope spec.