EVENTS

Members Reports and Photos

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SATURDAY 1 SEPTEMBER  2013

PRAEGER CENTRE, NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS

LEADER: ROY ANDERSON

SLUGS

Roy Anderson’s workshop can only be described as a tour de force. His introductory talk brought us up to date with regard to developments in slug taxonomy which have been great aided by easy access to DNA analysis which has helped to confirm and, in some case drive, changes in the taxonomy of the slug family. En route he gave us some equally fascinating insights into elements of Irish Biogeography, the ancestry of western Irish people, Cistercian Abbeys and our Lusitanian flora and fauna. Limacus maculatus is native in Bulgaria. Why has Geomalacus maculosus (Kerry Slug) moved into conifer plantations?

How many of us were aware of the presence of Tandonia rustica, apparently at its only site in Britain and Ireland, at Blarney and that Stella Davies was the first person to recognise the existence of a new orange-fringed species Arion owenii (1979) from her visits to Buncrana in the Inishowen Peninsula? Her pioneering work has since been confirmed by DNA analysis.

Those of us who have struggled to identify slugs using what was then Cameron’s innovative and excellent coloured Field Study Council key will look forward to the new key which Roy together with Ben Rosen and others at the Welsh Museum are testing – perhaps with some trepidation because of new species and unfamiliar names. However, judging by our experience with the prototype it should be a very rewarding experience and on reflection it will be “a must” for everyone who has any interest in this group of molluscs. The simple device of using a colour banding to reflect variation in pigmentation will extremely useful.

Identification is done using external features e.g. presence of absence of keel, colour, the position of the pneumostome, presence of ‘fingerprint”, colour of antennae, and relative size of tubercles ….

Arion is now split into four groups: Arion (Kobeltia), Arion (Carinarion), Arion (Mesarion) and Arion (Arion), comprising some 11 different species and it does make sense!

The workshop was well attended with participants demonstrating exceptional interest by their preparatory work. Sprinklers were out in gardens because of the drought and combined with apple offerings ensured an impressive number of specimens. But the prize, if there was one, would go to the buckets of slugs which arrived from Crossmolina! Everyone got an opportunity to test the key with identified specimens and had the bonus of leaving with an element of their garden fauna well catalogued. The question being asked was the date of the next event!

Mollusc Ireland http://www.habitas.org.uk/molluscireland/is a very good site but bear in mind that parts or it will soon be superseded. Look at the species lists on this site for further information.

 

                  

       

        

   

    

Photographs © Pat Lenihan

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