Navigation Links
Grazing slugs hinder grassland restoration
Date:7/13/2013

Selective grazing by slugs may prevent key grassland species from taking hold and hampers efforts to restore our hay meadows, new research has shown.

Work by scientists at Newcastle University, UK, has looked at the impact slugs have on grassland biodiversity and how this might inform future restoration work.

Although renowned for their ability to chew through a gardener's prize petunias or strawberry patch, still relatively little is known about the effect these munching molluscs have on large scale grassland conservation projects.

But for the first time this latest research shows that some of the most ecologically important species such as the red clover are particularly tasty to slugs, which may reduce the number of seedlings becoming established and overall plant diversity.

Publishing their results next month in the academic journal Annals of Botany, the research team has shown the impact of Deroceras reticulatum otherwise known as the field slug may need to be managed in order to help seedlings establish and contribute towards successful restoration.

"Herbivory is a fundamental driver of plant diversity," explains Dr Sarah Barlow, who carried out the work while at Newcastle University and is now based at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

"We know a lot about the benefits and drawbacks - of grazing by larger vertebrates such as cows and sheep but we haven't studied in detail the impact slugs might have, particularly on very young plants in meadows that we are trying to restore.

"What these initial studies have shown is that Deroceras reticulatum may actually be very damaging in this situation due to it finding some key species particularly tasty.

"One of these, red clover, is particularly important due to the symbiotic bacteria which live in its roots and help to fix Nitrogen into the soil, benefitting not just the clover but all the meadow seedlings."

Only around 5% of the slug population is actually above ground at any one time. Deroceras reticulatum prefers to feed above ground and is particularly fond of seedlings, which is why they can have such a devastating impact on this type of conservation project.

The team looked at slug feeding damage to seedling monocultures of 23 meadow species. The severity and rate of damage suffered by each plant species was analysed and each species ranked for their acceptability and hence potential vulnerability to slugs in meadows.

Drawing up a 'hierarchy of acceptability', the team found the slugs' favourite five were: yarrow; Yorkshire fog; rough-stalked meadow grass, creeping red fescue and red clover. On the bright side, said Dr Barlow, the slugs did not like the seedlings of some of the desirable wildflowers such as wood cranesbill, rough hawkbit and greater burnet.

Newcastle University's Dr Gordon Port, a senior lecturer and an expert in pest management said: "Just like us, slugs have their favourites and will eat some plants in preference to others.

"We have to cope with native slugs in our gardens and crops, but this research shows they can be equally damaging in natural systems. If invasive species, like the Spanish slug establish in the UK it will move the battle against slugs to a much higher level."


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Gordon Port
gordon.port@ncl.ac.uk
44-019-122-26894
Newcastle University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. The neurobiological consequence of predating or grazing
2. Selective grazing and aversion to olive and grape leaves achieved in goats and sheep
3. Grazing snails rule the waves
4. Invasion of the slugs -- halted by worms...
5. Traumatic mating may offer fitness benefits for female sea slugs
6. Do intellectual property rights on existing technologies hinder subsequent innovation?
7. After long-ago mass extinction, global warming hindered species recovery
8. Privately owned genetic databases may hinder diagnosis and bar the way to the arrival of personalized medicine
9. Researchers find reducing fishmeal hinders growth of farmed fish
10. UEA research reveals catastrophic loss of Cambodias tropical flooded grasslands
11. Diversity keeps grasslands resilient to drought, climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/16/2016)... YORK , May 16, 2016   EyeLock ... solutions, today announced the opening of an IoT Center ... to strengthen and expand the development of embedded iris ... an unprecedented level of convenience and security with unmatched ... authenticate one,s identity aside from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... DUBAI , UAE, May 9, 2016 ... choice when it comes to expanding freedom for high ... Even in today,s globally connected world, there ... online conferencing system could ever duplicate sealing your deal ... are obtaining second passports by taking advantage of citizenship ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... , April 28, 2016 Infosys ... (NYSE: INFY ), and Samsung SDS, a global ... that will provide end customers with a more secure, fast ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130122/589162 ) , ... but it also plays a fundamental part in enabling and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... GUELPH, ON , June 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - BIOREM ... it has been advised by its major shareholders, Clean ... LP, United States based venture ... common shares of Biorem (on a fully diluted, as ... for the disposition of their entire equity holdings in ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... operations for Amgen, will join the faculty of the University of North ... adjunct professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at UNC Kenan-Flagler, with a focus on ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the z-dimension of ... higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. Z-dimension ... of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow cell product ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ... and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 ... targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting class ... in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial advances ...
Breaking Biology Technology: