This page is about us - the people who are doing the scientific research on cane toads in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales. We are TEAM BUFO.
Rick Shine is a Professor of Biology at the University of Sydney, and until recently was also a Federation Fellow of the Australian Research Council. He’s the person who created TEAM BUFO a few years ago, and he still heads the group.
Rick has been passionate about wildlife, especially reptiles and amphibians, since he was a small child in Brisbane. He turned that passion into a career, doing an undergraduate degree in science at the Australian National University (in Canberra), then a Ph.D at the University of New England (in Armidale). Then, after a few years’ postdoctoral work in the USA (where he met Terri), they both returned to Sydney in 1978. Rick has been employed at the University of Sydney ever since.
Rick has conducted research all over the world, mostly on the ecology of snakes (which was the subject of his Ph.D). He’s published about 750 papers, and received many national and international awards for his research – the “official” university website has all the gory details if you’re interested.
Rick Shine's University of Sydney web page
And then, cane toads appeared on our research horizons. The toad invasion front had been travelling from Queensland towards Fogg Dam for 70 years, and in 2004 it was just at our doorstep. Clearly, this was a unique opportunity for Australians to find out what cane toads actually do at the invasion front, and what effects they have.
Remarkably (given all the public money and private effort that has
been devoted to toads in Australia), we really had very little detailed
information on these animals. But with their impending arrival we had
the chance to get that information at Fogg Dam – one of the most
intensively-studied and thus best-understood chunks of tropical real
estate in Australia, and probably even worldwide (tropical ecosystems
have been ignored, compared to those in cooler climates closer to the
main universities in North America and northern Europe).
Rick was awarded a Federation Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC), beginning in 2006. The funds from the Fellowship allowed a rapid expansion of our activities, at just the right time – shortly before the toads were due to arrive.
The Australian Research Council is a federal government agency that supports scientific research.
The main way we communicate the results of our research is to publish scientific papers in journals. These don't look much like the glossy magazines most people are used to reading - they are pretty drab and are mostly read only by professionals who conduct research in the field, and by up-and-coming research students. We also give talks about our research results at scientific conferences - again, to other scientists. There's nothing confidential about these results, and lots of our papers are available free from our “official” website.
Rick's laboratory web site has lots of detailed information.
If you want more detail about the scientific
evidence behind the information we provide on this website, then by all
means pop across to Rick's laboratory website (see the link above) where
you can see all of the papers listed, with quick summaries of each.
Just email us (see the Contacts page) for the actual paper - with all
the evidence - if you want to follow things up in more detail.
This website is produced by Terri Shine, whose main link to the strange and wonderful world of cane toads comes from being married to Rick Shine for the last 30 or so years.