World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Slug

Article Id: WHEBN0018619339
Reproduction Date:

Title: Slug  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hermaphrodite, Land snail, Endodontidae, Onchidiidae, Snail
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Slug

Slug
Various species of British land slugs, including (from the top) the larger drawings: Arion ater, Kerry slug, Limax maximus and Limax flavus
Various species of British land slugs, including (from the top) the larger drawings: Arion ater, Kerry slug, Limax maximus and Limax flavus
Arion sp., from Vancouver, BC
Arion sp., from Vancouver, BC
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Included groups

Slug is a common name for an apparently shell-less terrestrial gastropod mollusc. The word "slug" is also often used as part of the common name of any gastropod mollusc that has no shell, has a very reduced shell, or has only a small internal shell (this is in contrast to the common name snail, which applies to gastropods that have a coiled shell large enough that the animal can retract its soft parts fully into it).

Slugs live on land and in saltwater, and one genus, Acochlidium, lives in freshwater. The unadorned word "slug", however, is applied primarily to land slugs, whereas slugs from the sea or from fresh water are usually referred to as "sea slugs" or "freshwater slugs". Land gastropods with a shell that is not quite vestigial, but is too small to retract into (like many in the family Urocyclidae), are known as semislugs.

Various taxonomic families of slugs form part of several quite different evolutionary lineages, which also include snails. Thus, for example, the various families of land slugs are not closely related, despite a superficial similarity in the overall body form. The shell-less condition has arisen many times independently during the evolutionary past, and thus the category "slug" is emphatically a polyphyletic one.

Slugs, like all other gastropods, undergo pneumostome, which is on one side of the animal, normally the right-hand side. The soft, slimy bodies of slugs are prone to desiccation, so land-living slugs are confined to moist environments and must retreat to damp hiding places when the weather is dry. The subsequent information in this article applies to land slugs.

Taxonomy

Of the six orders of Pulmonata, two – the Onchidiacea and Soleolifera – solely comprise slugs. A third family, the Sigmurethra, contains various clades of snails, semi-slugs (i.e. snails whose shells are too small for them to retract fully into) and slugs.[1] The taxonomy of this group is in the process of being revised in the light of DNA sequencing.[2] It appears that pulmonates are paraphyletic and basal to the opisthobranchs, which are a terminal branch of the tree. The family Ellobiidae are also polyphyletic.

Description

Drawing of slug with labels for the foot (bottom side) the foot fringe that surrounds it, the mantle behind the head, the pnumostome for breathing, and the optical and sensory tentacles
The external anatomy of a slug

Like other pulmonate land gastropods, the majority of land slugs have two pairs of 'feelers' or tentacles on their head. The upper pair is light sensing and has eyespots at the ends, while the lower pair provides the sense of smell. Both pairs are retractable, and can be regrown if lost.

On top of the slug, behind the head, is the saddle-shaped mantle, and under this are the genital opening and anus. On one side (almost always the right hand side) of the mantle is a respiratory opening, which is easy to see when open, but difficult to see when closed. This opening is known as the pneumostome. Within the tissue of the mantle in some species is a very small, rather flat shell, or in some other cases a collection of calcareous granules.

Like most gastropods, a slug moves by rhythmic waves of muscular contraction on the underside of its foot. It simultaneously secretes a layer of mucus that it travels on, which helps prevent damage to the foot tissues.[3] Around the edge of the foot is the 'foot fringe' or 'skirt'.

Vestigial shell

Most slugs retain a remnant of their shell, which is usually internalized. This organ generally serves as storage for calcium salts, often in conjunction with the digestive glands.[4] An internal shell is present in the Limacidae[5] and Parmacellidae.[6] Adult Philomycidae,[5] Onchidiidae[7] and Veronicellidae[8] lack shells.

Physiology

An active slug in Fremont, California

Slugs' bodies are made up mostly of water, and without a full-sized shell, their soft tissues are prone to desiccation. They must generate protective mucus to survive. Many species are most active just after rain because of the moist ground. In drier conditions, they hide in damp places such as under tree bark, fallen logs, rocks, and man-made structures, such as planters, to help retain body moisture.[3]

Slugs produce two types of mucus: one is thin and watery, and the other thick and sticky. Both kinds are hygroscopic. The thin mucus spreads from the foot's centre to its edges, whereas the thick mucus spreads from front to back. Slugs also produce thick mucus that coats the whole body of the animal.[3]

The mucus secreted by the foot contains fibres that help prevent the slug from slipping down vertical surfaces. The "slime trail" a slug leaves behind has some secondary effects: other slugs coming across a slime trail can recognise the slime trail as produced by one of the same species, which is useful in finding a mate. Following a slime trail is also part of the hunting behaviour of some carnivorous slugs.[3] Body mucus provides some protection against predators, as it can make the slug hard to pick up and hold by a bird's beak, for example, and the mucus itself can be distasteful.[9] Some species of slug, such as Limax maximus, secrete slime cords to suspend a pair during copulation.

Reproduction

Deroceras juvenile with eggs

Slugs are [10] Once a slug has located a mate, they encircle each other and sperm is exchanged through their protruded genitalia. A few days later, the slugs lay around thirty eggs in a hole in the ground, or beneath the cover of an object such as a fallen log.

Apophallation is a commonly seen practice among many slugs. In apophallating species, the penis curls like a corkscrew and during mating, it often becomes entangled in the mate's genitalia. Apophallation allows the slugs to separate themselves by one or both of the slugs chewing off the other's penis. Once its penis has been removed, the slug is still able to mate using only the female parts of its reproductive system.[10]

Ecology

Slugs play an important role in the ecosystem by eating decaying plant material and fungi.[11] Most carnivorous slugs on occasion also eat dead of their own kind.

Feeding habits

Large Slug near Manali, India

Most species of slugs are generalists, feeding on a broad spectrum of organic materials, including leaves from living plants, lichens, mushrooms, and even carrion.[11][12] Some slugs are predators and eat other slugs and snails, or earthworms.[11][13] Slugs can feed on a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, including flowers such as petunias, chrysanthemums, daisies, lobelia, lilies, daffodils, narcissus, gentians, primroses, tuberous begonias, hollyhocks, irises, and fruits such as strawberries.[14] They also feed on carrots, peas, apples, and cabbage that are offered as a sole food source.[12]

Slugs from different families are fungivores. It is the case in the Philomycidae (e. g. Philomycus carolinianus and Phylomicus flexuolaris) and Ariolimacidae (Ariolimax californianus), which respectively feed on slime molds (myxomycetes) and mushrooms (basidiomycetes).[12] Species of mushroom producing fungi used as food source by slugs include milk-caps, Lactarius spp., the oyster mushroom, Pleurotus ostreatus and the penny bun, Boletus edulis. Other species pertaining to different genera, such as Agaricus, Pleurocybella and Russula, are also eaten by slugs. Slime molds used as food source by slugs include Stemonitis axifera and Symphytocarpus flaccidus.[12] Some slugs are selective towards certain parts or developmental stages of the fungi they eat, though this is very variable. Depending on the species and other factors, slugs eat only fungi at specific stages of development. Moreover, in other cases, whole mushrooms can be eaten, without any selection or bias towards ontogenetic stages.[12]

Predators

Slugs are preyed upon by a myriad of vertebrates and invertebrates. The predation of slugs has been the subject of studies for at least a century. Because some species of slugs are considered agricultural pests, research investments have been made to comprehend and investigate potential predators. This is a necessary knowledge to establish biological control strategies.[15]

Vertebrates

Slugs are preyed upon by virtually every major vertebrate group. With many examples among reptiles, birds, mammals, amphibians and fish, vertebrates can occasionally feed on, or be specialized predators of slugs.[15] Fish that feed on slugs include the brown trout, (Salmo trutta), which occasionally feeds on Arion circumscriptus, an arionid slug.[15] Similarly, the shortjaw kokopu (Galaxias postvectis) includes slugs in its diet.[16] Amphibians such as frogs and toads have long been regarded as important predators of slugs. Among them are species in the genus Bufo (e. g. Bufo marinus) and Ceratophrys.[15]

Reptiles that feed on slugs include mainly snakes and lizards.[15] Some colubrid snakes are known predators of slugs. Coastal populations of the garter snake,Thamnophis elegans, have a specialized diet consisting of slugs, such as Ariolimax, while inland populations have a generalized diet.[17] One of its congeners, the Northwestern garter snake (Thamnophis ordinoides), is not a specialized predator of slugs but occasionally feed on them. The redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) and the brown snake (Storeria dekayi) feed mainly but not solely on slugs, while some species in the genus Dipsas, Sibynomorphus (e.g. Sibynomorphus neuwiedi) and the common slug eater snake (Duberria lutrix), are exclusively slug eaters.[15][18] Several lizards include slugs in their diet. This is the case in the slow worm (Anguis fragilis), the bobtail lizard (Tiliqua rugosa), the she-oak skink (Cyclodomorphus casuarinae) and the common lizard (Zootoca vivipara).[15][19][20]

Birds that prey upon slugs include common blackbirds (Turdus merula), starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), rooks (Corvus frugilegus), jackdaws (Corvus monedula), owls, vultures and ducks. Studies on slug predation also cite fieldfares (feeding on Deroceras reticulatum), redwings (feeding on Limax and Arion), thrushes (on Limax and Arion ater), red grouse (on Deroceras and Arion hortensis), game birds, wrynecks (on Limax flavus), rock doves and charadriiform birds as slug predators.[15]

Mammals that eat slugs, include foxes, badgers and hedgehogs.[21]

Invertebrates

Beetles in the family Carabidae, such as Carabus violaceus and Pterostichus melanarius, are known to feed on slugs.[22][23]

Parasites and parasitoids

Slugs are parasitised by several organisms, including acari[24][25] and a wide variety of nematodes.[26][27] The slug mite, Riccardoella limacum, is known to parasitise several dozen species of mollusks, including many slugs, such as Agriolimax agrestis, Arianta arbustrum, Arion ater, Arion hortensis, Limax maximus, Milax budapestensis, Milax gagates, and Milax sowerbyi.[24][25] R. limacum can often be seen swarming about their host's body, and live in its respiratory cavity.

Several species of nematodes are known to parasitise slugs. The nematode worms Agfa flexilis and Angiostoma limacis respectively live in the salivary glands and rectum of Limax maximus.[28] Species of widely known medical importance pertaining to the genus Angiostrongylus are also parasites of slugs. Both Angiostrongylus costaricensis and Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a meningitis-causing nematode, have larval stages that can only live in mollusks, including slugs, such as Limax maximus.[26]

Insects such as dipterans are known parasitoids of mollusks. To complete their development, many dipterans use slugs as hosts during their ontogeny. Some species of blow-flies (Calliphoridae) in the genus Melinda are known parasitoids of Arionidae, Limacidae and Philomycidae. Flies in the family Phoridae, specially those in the genus Megaselia, are parasitoids of Agriolimacidae, including many species of Deroceras.[29] House flies in the family Muscidae, mainly those in the genus Sarcophaga, are facultative parasitoids of Arionidae.[30]

Behavior

A brown and yellow spotted slug curled up into a tight ball so that its head is withdrawn completely, its mantle edge and tail are nearly touching, and none of its foot surface is exposed
The alarm response posture of the Kerry slug, which is found only in this species

When attacked, slugs can contract their body, making themselves harder and more compact. By doing this, they become firmly attached to the substrate. This, combined with the slippery mucus they produce, makes slugs more difficult for predators to grasp. The unpleasant taste of the mucus is also a deterrent.[9] Some species present different response behaviors when attacked, such as the Kerry slug. In contrast to the general behavioral pattern, the Kerry slug retracts its head, lets go of the substrate, rolls up completely, and stays contracted in a ball-like shape.[31] This is a unique feature among all the Arionidae,[32] and among most other slugs.[31] Some slugs can self-amputate (autotomy) a portion of their tail to help the slug escape from a predator.[33] Some slug species hibernate underground during the winter in temperate climates, but in other species, the adults die in the autumn.[14]

Intra and inter-specific agonistic behavior is documented, but varies greatly among slug species. Slugs often resort to aggression, attacking both conspecifics and individuals from other species when competing for resources. This aggressiveness is also influenced by seasonality, because the availability of resources such as shelter and food may be compromised due to climatic conditions. Slugs are prone to attack during the summer, when the availability of resources is reduced. During winter, the aggressive responses are substituted by a gregarious behavior.[34]

Human relevance

The great majority of slug species are harmless to humans and to their interests, but a small number of species are serious pests of agriculture and horticulture. They can destroy foliage faster than plants can grow, thus killing even fairly large plants. They also feed on fruits and vegetables prior to harvest, making holes in the crop, which can make individual items unsuitable to sell for aesthetic reasons, and can make the crop more vulnerable to rot and disease.[35]

As control measures, baits are the norm in both agriculture and the garden. In recent years, [37] diatomaceous earth, crushed eggshells, coffee grounds, and copper. It is of scientific interest that salt kills slugs by causing water to leave the body owing to osmosis (demonstration)[38] but this is not used for agricultural control as soil salinity is detrimental to crops.[39]

In a few rare cases, humans have developed Angiostrongylus cantonensis induced meningitis from eating raw slugs.[40] Live slugs that are accidentally eaten with improperly cleaned vegetables (such as lettuce), or improperly cooked slugs (for use in recipes requiring larger slugs such as banana slugs), can act as a vector for a parasitic infection in humans.[27][41]

Gallery

References

  1. ^ a b "HOW TO BE SLUGGISH", Tuatara 25 (2): 48–63 
  2. ^ White, T. R.; Conrad, M. M.; Tseng, R.; Balayan, S.; Golding, R.; de Frias Martins, A. M. & Dayrat, B. A. (2011). "Ten new complete mitochondrial genomes of pulmonates (Mollusca: Gastropoda) and their impact on phylogenetic relationships". BMC Evolutionary Biology 11 (1): 295
  3. ^ a b c d Denny, M. W.; Gosline, J. M. (1980). "Ariolimax columbianus"The physical properties of the pedal mucus of the terrestrial slug, . Journal of Experimental Biology 88 (1): 375–393. 
  4. ^ Loest, R. A. (1979). "Ammonia Volatilization and Absorption by Terrestrial Gastropods_ a Comparison between Shelled and Shell-Less Species". Physiological Zoology (The University of Chicago Press) 52 (4): 461–469.  
  5. ^ a b Branson, B. A (1980). "The recent Gastropoda of Oklahoma, Part VIII. The slug families Limacidae, Arionidae, Veronicellidae, and Philomycidae". Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 60: 29–35. 
  6. ^ Alonso, M. R.; Ibañe, M. (1981). Webb & Van Beneden, 1836, y consideraciones sobre la posicion sistematica de la familia Parmacellidae (Mollusca, Pulmonata, Stylommatophora)"Parmacella valenciannesii"Estudio de . Boletín de la Sociedad de Historia Natural de les Baleares 25: 103–124. 
  7. ^ Dayrat, B. (2009). "Review of the current knowledge of the systematics of Onchidiidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Pulmonata) with a checklist of nominal species". Zootaxa 2068: 1–26. 
  8. ^ Schilthuizen, M.; Thome, J. W. (2008). "Valiguna flava (Heynemann, 1885) from Indonesia and Malaysia: Redescription and Comparison with Valiguna siamensis (Martens, 1867)(Gastropoda: Soleolifera: Veronicellidae)". Veliger 50 (3): 163–170. 
  9. ^ a b Nixon, P. "Slugs". Home, Yard & Garden Pest Newsletter. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  10. ^ a b "Perverted cannibalistic hermaphrodites haunt the Pacific Northwest! « The Oyster’s Garter". Theoystersgarter.com. 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  11. ^ a b c "What Do Slugs Eat?". Diet.yukozimo.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  12. ^ a b c d e Keller, H. W.; Snell, K. L. (2002). "Feeding activities of slugs on Myxomycetes and macrofungi". Mycologia 94 (5): 757–760.  
  13. ^ )videoWorm-eating slug found in garden (, BBC News. Published 10 July 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  14. ^ a b Sandy; Misner, L; Balog. "Arion lusitanicus". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h South, A. (1992). Terrestrial Slugs: Biology, ecology and control. Boundary Row, London, UK: Chapman & Hall. pp. 428 pp.  
  16. ^ McDowall, R. M.; Main, M. R.; West, D. W.; Lyon, G. L. (1996). Clarke (Teleostei: Galaxiidae)"Galaxias postvectis"Terrestrial and benthic foods in the diet of the shortjawed kokopu, . New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 30 (2): 257–269.  
  17. ^ Britt, E. J.; Hicks, J. W.; Bennett, A. F. (2006). "The energetic consequences of dietary specialization in populations of the garter snake, Thamnophis elegans". Journal of Experimental Biology 209 (16): 3164–3169.  
  18. ^ Maia, T; Dorigo, T. A.; Gomes, S. R.; Santos, S. B.; Rocha, C. F. D. (2012). (Semper, 1885) (Gastropoda; Veronicellidae): a trophic relationship revealed"Potamojanuarius lamellatus (Ihering, 1911) (Serpentes; Dipsadidae) and Sibynomorphus neuwiedi". Biotemas 25 (1): 211–213.  
  19. ^ Avery, R. A. (1966). "Food and feeding habits of the Common lizard (Lacerta vivipara) in the west of England". Journal of Zoology 149 (2): 115–121.  
  20. ^ Hewer, A. M. (1948). "Tazmanian lizards". Tazmanian Naturalist 1 (3): 8–11. 
  21. ^ "Slugs". Cardiff.ac.uk. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  22. ^ Brandmayr, P. (et al.); Paill, W. (2000). "Slugs as prey for larvae and imagines of Carabus violaceus (Coleoptera: Carabidae)". Natural History and Applied Ecology of Carabid Beetles. Sofia, Moscow: PENSOFT Publishers. pp. 221–227. 
  23. ^ Symondson, W. O. C.; Glen, D. M.; Erickson, M. L.; Liddell, J. E.; Langdon, C. J. (2000). "Do earthworms help to sustain the slug predator Pterostichus melanarius (Coleoptera: Carabidae) within crops? Investigations using monoclonal antibodies". Molecular Ecology 9 (9): 1279–1292.  
  24. ^ a b Baker, R. A. (1978). "The food of Riccardoella limacum (Schrank) - Acari-Trombidiformes and its relationship with pulmonate molluscs".  
  25. ^ a b Barker, G. M.; Ramsay, G. W. (1978). (Acari: Ereynetidae) in New Zealand"Riccardoella limacum"The slug mite . New Zealand Entomologist 6 (4): 441–443.  
  26. ^ a b Teixeira, C. G.; Thiengo, S. C.; Thome, J. W.; Medeiros, A. B.; Camillo-Coura, L.; Agostini, A. A. (1993). "On the diversity of mollusc intermediate hosts of Angiostrongylus costaricensis Morera & Cespedes, 1971 in southern Brazil". Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz 88 (3): 487–9.  
  27. ^ a b Senanayake, S. N.; Pryor, D. S.; Walker, J.; Konecny, P. (2003)."First report of human angiostrongyliasis acquired in Sydney". The Medical Journal of Australia 179 (8): 430-431.
  28. ^ Taylor J. W. (1902). Part 8, pages 1-52. Monograph of the land and freshwater Mollusca of the British Isles. Testacellidae. Limacidae. Arionidae. Taylor Brothers, Leeds. Introduction page XV., pages 34-52.
  29. ^ Robinson, W. H.; Foote, B. A. (1968). , a Phorid Predator of Slug Eggs"Megaselia aequalis"Biology and Immature Stages of . Annals of the Entomological Society of America 61 (6): 1587–1594. 
  30. ^ Coupland, J. B. (2004). "Chapter 3: Dipteras as predators and parasitoids of terrestrial gastropods, with emphasis on Phoridae, Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, Muscidae and Fannidae". In Barker, G. M. Natural Enemies of Terrestrial Molluscs. Wallingford, Oxfordshire, UK: CABI Publishing. pp. 88–124.  
  31. ^ a b "Forestry and Kerry Slug Guidelines". Forest Service Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. July 12, 2009.  9 pp.
  32. ^ Kerney, M. P; Cameron, A. D. & Jungbluth, J. H. (1983). Die Landschnecken Nord- und Mitteleuropas (in Deutsch). Hamburg and Berlin: Verlag Paul Parey. p. 138.  
  33. ^ Pekarinen, E. (1994). Autotomy in arionid and limacid slug.Journal of Molluscan Studies 60(1): 19-23. [1]
  34. ^ Rollo, C. D.; Wellington, W. G. (1979). "Intra- and inter-specific agonistic behavior among terrestrial slugs (Pulmonata: Stylommatophora)". Canadian Journal of Zoology 57 (4): 846–855.  
  35. ^ "SlugClear Ultra: Highly efficient protection against slugs and snails | Gardening tips and advice". LoveTheGarden.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  36. ^ "Less toxic iron phosphate slug bait proves effective". Extension.oregonstate.edu. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  37. ^ "~ Slug Traps ~ Death by Beer Offers and Reviews". Gardening-guru.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-16. 
  38. ^ "Slugs and Osmosis". Newton.dep.anl.gov. Retrieved 2014-03-02. 
  39. ^ "How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs: 17 steps (with pictures)". Wikihow.com. 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  40. ^ "Health and Medicals News - Man's brain infected by eating slugs". Retrieved 2006-03-15. 
  41. ^ Anna Salleh (20 October 2003). "Man's brain infected by eating slugs". 

Further reading

  • Burton, D. W. (January 1982). "How to be sluggish". Tuatara 25 (2): 48–63. 

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Slugs and Their Management. Ohio State University Extension.
  • How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs. WikiHow.
  • The Secret Lives of Jumping Slugs. The Nature Conservancy.
  • Land Slugs and Snails and Their Control. USDA Farmer's Bulletin No. 1895. Revised 1959. Hosted by the UNT Government Documents Department
  • Slugs of Florida. University of Florida IFAS
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.