Orientation behaviour of toads (Bufo bufo) displaced from the breeding site

J Comp Physiol A. 1987 Oct;161(5):715-27. doi: 10.1007/BF00605013.


The sensory basis and spatial range of orientation to the breeding site were studied in the toad Bufo bufo, during two breeding seasons. Toads were displaced passively from their breeding pond and fitted with a tracking device to record the path of migration in individuals. The directional choice and the straightness of trails after release were used to quantify the effect of experimental treatments. In both years, control (untreated) toads headed to the breeding site with the same precision at all release sites. The initial orientation of toads blinded by opaque tape over their eyes did not differ from controls, but the return paths were not as direct. The directional choice of anosmic toads was apparently random, however, individuals followed a straight path in a chosen direction. Anosmic toads also blinded were completely disoriented, moving in cycloid trails. Bar magnets glued to the head caused an increase in dispersion of toads. However, in some individual releases a directional bias without increased dispersion was observed. Sky conditions (clear or overcast) did not influence the initial orientation or the dispersion of toads. Nevertheless, the breeding site component was significantly correlated with wind direction in relation to the breeding site. Wind blowing from the breeding site improved the initial orientation, whereas wind from the opposite direction reduced the breeding site component. The spatial range for the ability to relocate the breeding pond after displacement exceeded 3 km, but the time taken to select the correct direction increased with the displacement distance. The results indicate that after displacement the initial orientation of B. bufo is based mainly on olfactory and magnetic cues, with visual control of straightness.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blindness / physiopathology
  • Bufo bufo / physiology*
  • Bufonidae / physiology
  • Motor Activity
  • Orientation*
  • Reproduction
  • Smell
  • Species Specificity