Potential Slug Invasions and their Impact on UK Biosecurity (Part 2)

By Dr Jenna Ross

Guest writer, Dr Jenna Ross, from Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), joins us for the second of her two-part special series (read part 1) on the outputs of her prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship. Jenna spent 26 weeks travelling the world studying all aspects of slug invasions and slug control, and in this article discuss the impact of slug invasions on UK biosecurity.

Molluscs (slugs and snails) are a significant risk to biosecurity worldwide due to their:

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Figure 1: Dr Jenna Ross
  • Varied diet, thus can be herbivores, predators, scavengers or omnivores;
  • Ability to carry parasites and pathogens, including some that impact on human and animal health;
  • Survival in disturbed environments, especially when they are in close association with human activity;
  • Rapid reproduction, laying hundreds of eggs over a short period of time;
  • Reproduction strategy, in that they can self-fertilise, thus having the ability to survive without a mate, and establish a population with a single invader; and
  • Ability to aestivate and emerge when weather conditions are more favourable.

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Invasion of a predator: Lionfish

By Rebecca Quarterman and Hannah Fielder

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Lionfish populations continue to expand, threatening the well-being of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems (Image: Pixabay)

The majestic, unusual looking Lionfish could be seen as harmless to the untrained eye. Yet, this invasive species has multiplied aggressively over the last two decades to become a serious threat to biodiversity in the marine setting.

The red lionfish (Pterois volitans) and the devil firefish (Pterois miles) are native to the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean respectively, though their ranges overlap in the waters around Indonesia. These two species are collectively known as lionfish and are so similar in appearance that scientists usually rely on genetic analysis to tell them apart. Thriving on coral reefs and among mangroves and seagrass, lionfish have distinctive white and red/brown striped bodies and venomous spines on their fins to protect them from predators.

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Traded forest tree seeds pose a great risk of introducing harmful pest, new research shows

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American acorn (Quercus garryana) with fungus on the inside of the skin and feeding damage by weevil larvae (Photo: ©CABI/Iva Franić)

CABI has led an international team of scientists who strongly suggest that the global trade of forest tree seeds is not as safe as previously believed, with insect pests and fungal pathogens posing a great risk to trees and forest ecosystems worldwide.

Non-native insect pests and fungal pathogens present one of the major threats to trees and forest ecosystems globally, with the potential to cause significant ecological changes and economic losses.

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Invasive species hitch a ride on marine litter

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Photo credit: Rey Perezoso, Flickr

We are more aware than ever of the impact of pollution on marine life, from ingestion and entanglement in manmade waste, through to the discovery of microplastics within microorganisms, fish and large mammals. One perhaps overlooked impact is its role in the spread of invasive species. Acting as a raft on which potential invasive species can attach, floating marine litter can significantly expand a species’ ability to colonise new regions.

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Continuing the biological fight against a hardy foe – the maize-devastating western corn rootworm

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Stefan Toepfer, Szabolcs Toth and Matija Milkovic collecting western corn rootworms from highly invested maize fields in southern Hungary (Photo: Matija Mikovic)

CABI is continuing the fight against the maize-devastating western corn rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera virgifera) by collecting more than 22,000 live specimens of this chrysomelid beetle for further research into its biological control.

Dr Stefan Toepfer has been busy in the maize fields of southern Hungary gathering the insects, which, of Mexican origin, have invaded many maize production areas of North America and Europe – adapting to nearly all management options regardless of insecticides, transgenic maize, or crop rotation.

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Potential slug invasions and their impact on UK biosecurity (Part 1)

By Dr Jenna Ross

Guest writer, Dr Jenna Ross, from Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), joins us for a two-part special series (read part 2) on the outputs of her prestigious Nuffield Farming Scholarship, where she spent 26 weeks travelling the world studying all aspects of slug invasions and methods of control. In Part 1, Jenna discusses the current slug fauna of the UK and potential slug invasions.

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Figure 1: Dr Jenna Ross

The slug fauna of the UK is constantly evolving. To date, there are an estimated 42 slug species in the UK, with another newly introduced milacid species identified in 2018. However, what is particularly interesting, is that of the species present in the UK, only 18 are native, with the rest being introduced. This means that over 50% of the UK’s slug fauna are exotic. So why are slugs so successful at invading new habitats? There are many reasons for this, including their high reproductive rates, environmental tolerance, flexible behaviour, ability to thrive in association with humans (synanthropic) and the fact they are free from their natural predators and parasites when entering new unoccupied ecological niches.

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Deploying biopesticides to combat fall armyworm in South Sudan

Ivan was in South Sudan to assist farmers to manage FAW

A new project in South Sudan is combatting the fall armyworm, an insect that can cause significant damage to crops, particularly maize. With more than half of South Sudan’s current population—nearly 6.2 million people—in need of life-saving food assistance, safeguarding food security where possible is essential. Launched in January 2019 as a partnership between CABI, a private sector partner – AgBiTech, CIMMYT, FAO, USAID, and the South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS), the project is piloting the use of a baculovirus biopesticide called Fawligen.

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