Recording ‘ribbits’ and a bit of DNA, the key to keeping the Asian black spined toad out!

The Asian black-spined toad (ABST, Duttaphyrnus melanostictus) is a species of significant biosecurity concern to Australian authorities, as it is one of the most common stowaway species arriving into Australia via cargo and baggage.

This exotic toad has established populations in several locations outside its native range in Asia, where it causes significant economic and environmental impacts. To further add to this concern, much of northern and eastern Australia is suitable for its establishment, including areas outside of the predicted range of cane toads.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions is currently coordinating a number of projects across Australia to develop new types of surveillance techniques to keep this species out!

The projects involve researchers from our Centre’s members and partners including CSIRO, the state biosecurity departments and the University of Canberra. In one project, Biosecurity Queensland and University of Canberra are collaborating with Dr Mirza Kusrini of IPB University in Bogor Indonesia and Lin Schwarzkopf of James Cook University to examine the ABST in their native range.

In a COVID world, our international collaborations are even more important than ever, to ensure that our Centre can continue our research program through the collection of samples and data on potential biosecurity threats to Australia.

Dr Kusrini’s team in Indonesia is collecting audio calls and morphological measurements of ABST in their native range. The team will also assess the characteristics of the calls to optimise audio lures. These will then be tested on a native ABST population using ‘Toadinator’ Cane toad traps.

The Indonesian team have also collected water samples from a water bodies of varying type and ABST density which Dr Doug Beattie at the University of Canberra is using to verify the effectiveness of an ABST eDNA assay.

We look forward to seeing this relationship with Indonesia flourish as we ensure our next big pest threats don’t establish in Australia.

To find out more about these specific projects visit