DATABASE: Aliens on the Rampage

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Science  23 Apr 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5670, pp. 495
DOI: 10.1126/science.304.5670.495c

Released into Australia to control beetles that were ravaging sugar cane, the voracious cane toad (Bufo marinus) became a pest itself and is spreading relentlessly across the northern part of the country. Invasive species such as the cane toad, a native of Central and South America, are wreaking ecological havoc around the globe. This new catalog from the World Conservation Union keeps tabs on the interlopers, profiling 130-and-counting species. You can find out where they came from, how they spread, their impact on the environment, and what control measures have been tried. For example, cane toads, which gobble almost any animal they can stuff into their gullet, are displacing native amphibians, and their deadly toxins might take a toll on predators.

The toad also makes the site's dishonor roll of the most destructive invasives. The list includes the brown tree snake (Boiga irregularis), which has wiped out most of the native birds on Guam, and the bush currant (Miconia calvescens), which is taking over Tahiti's forests.

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