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Biological & Biomedical Sciences
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Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) Research Writing Assignment (Research Paper Sample)

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Cane Toads (Rhinella marina)

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Cane Toads (Rhinella marina)
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Cane Toads (Rhinella marina)
Introduction
Cane toads are rough, and tough organisms that belong to the kingdom Animalia, phylum Chordata, class Amphibia, Order Anura, family Bufonidae, genus rhinella and its specific name is Marina. Even though Cane toad belongs to the order Anura which includes other types of frogs, it has exceptional features that differentiate it from other members of its family. It has a high ability to adapt to many places with different climatic conditions, but it is more dominant in Australia where it has minimal predators because of its poisonous nature. They have a gigantic body frame that makes them relatives heavier than members of the class Amphibia. They have a dry, warty skin which is rough and makes them appear dull in nature (Crossland, Brown, & Shine, 2011). They usually move by making small steps because of their relatively heavy weight that hinders them from jumping very high like other members of the class Amphibia. Its ability to reproduce and multiply rapidly is favored by its mode of feeding which is unique to members of its class because it feeds on its prey, independent of whether it is dead or alive. Their length for a normal fully grown cane toad range from 10 cm to 15 cm but mostly it is summarized to be about 6 inches long. However, the largest ever length recorded for a cane toad is 10 inches in length.
The cane toad is always referred to as an ancient species of the genius rhinella. The various scientific research studied argue that the present-day cane toad highly resembles the features of a fossil toad that was discovered in a deposit of floodplain. Rhinella marina has poisonous glands all over its dry, warty skin that makes it appear as if it has many pimples all over its skin though their under-body part appears like a white stretched canvas tent and had no poisonous glands. Their tadpoles are the most poisonous because of their tendency to release toxic chemicals when a predator feeds on them. Their unique feeding habit that involves eating every matter including the living and nonliving objects in a relatively large amount has made them more important to the people of the Caribbean island (Heise-Pavlov, & Longway, 2011). They highly prefer the cane toad in their farms to act as a pest control measure thus increasing their agricultural yield. Taxonomists derived the common name for cane toad from the cane beetle which is the dormant prey for the cane toad. Previously cane toad was preferred for pest control measures, and it was introduced in many regions especially the Caribbean island. However, today cane toad has turned to be a major concern in the agricultural sector. The cane toad has invasively concurred the agricultural sector as a serious pest that is causing the pest control department a lot of time and money.
Description
Rhinella marina is a gigantic heavy frog with the female toad being slightly longer than the male toads. An adult toad usually measures 6 inches in length though there was an incident where a very big cane toad was discovered, and it measured almost 10 inches in length. Their diversity is such that the big and heavy toads occupy the low populated regions with few human activities. They have a lifespan of between 10 -15 years for those inhabiting the forest or wild, but in some special cases, they can live longer than 15 years because there was a discovery that revealed a toad that lived for over 30 years of age. The body skin of the toad is dry, warty, and dull with many pores giving the skin a rough appearance (Hernández, Sernia, & Bradley, 2012). Depending on the nature of their surrounding they can be grey, red-yellow, olive brown or yellowish with varied patterns including trips or patched. They have a parotid gland around their eye region. Their toes are webbed in nature with protrusion of the fingers. A young, immature toad is characterized by a dark skin which is usually smooth compared to the skin of a fully grown adult toad which is usually dry and very rough. The young toads approaching the adult stage are relatively less poisonous compared to a tadpole or an adult toad. The tadpoles are minor and completely black in color. They are completely aquatic occupying the bottom layer of rivers and streams adding up to the benthic population in an aquatic system. The tadpoles range from 1 cm to 2.5 cm long. They always have a big spherical head with a small tail protrusion.
Ecology, Behavior and Life History
From the specific name, marina it is evident that the cane toad is associated with marine or aquatic life especially the tadpoles which breath through gills thus they cannot survive outside a water body. However, a fully matured adult rhinellla is a completely terrestrial organism which will only be found in fresh water bodies such as streams and rivers during its breeding time. Scientific research argues that a tadpole can tolerate a maximum salt concentration of about 14% - 18%. However recently researchers found some cane tadpole in sea waters with a salinity content of 28%. The cane toads are associated with woodlands and grassland regions though in the regions that have been modified by human activities they tend to occupy the swampy area such as the drainage systems and gardens (Lever, 2001). In the wild, the toads can occupy the subtropical forest though their activities are usually hindered by the foliage in the region.
The life cycle of a cane toad starts from an egg which is usually in the form of string covered with a protective mucoid layer and are laid in water bodies away from predators. A female toad lay over 10000 eggs at a go and can be stretched to a length of over 60 feet. The eggs are black in color covered with a jelly-like layer with a diameter of 1.8 mm. The rate at which the eggs will produce a tadpole will depend on variation in temperature. The toad poles eggs hatch within two days after fertilization by the male toad though the time may differ depending on the atmospheric temperature condition. The eggs hatch into many minute tadpoles that form in groups or cluster after ten days to 2 months the tadpoles enters the juvenile stage of its development. The eggs of a cane toad will successfully hatch into tadpoles without interference from animals because both the eggs and the tadpoles are poisonous thus they will never be feed on with any predator. Once the eggs hatch into tadpoles, they move and grow faster, but when they are about to enter the juvenile stage, the growth rate decreases drastically. Biologists argue that the tadpole usually has a higher growth rate because that is the only means of survival to evade their enemies and also overcome competition in the ecosystem. When the tadpole reaches the juvenile or intermediate stage, they lose their toxicity...

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