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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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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Collaborative effort in Kenya to manage the impact of scale insect in coastal region

Coffee production in Rwanda
Coffee is a value cash-crop for many in Africa but successful yields can be affected by scale insects including the coffee mealybug (Copyright Charles Agwanda/CABI)

By Fernadis Makale, CABI

Scale insects – such as the coffee mealybug and cassava mealybug – are some of the least studied group of invertebrates in East Africa. However, a collaborative effort has been made to address the threat they pose to smallholder farmers: despite their cross-cutting status as pests in all plant groups, crops, ornamentals, trees and weeds.

Several organisations* in Kenya including CABI, and in conjunction with the UK’s Natural History Museum, have joined forces to train up to 30 new extension officers whose role will include identifying scale insects and communicating theirs risks and how they can be managed with smallholder farmers.

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Kenya faces devastating Prosopis invasion: What can be done

By Purity Rima Mbaabu. Originally published on The Conversation.

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Prosopis in Lake Baringo, Kenya. Photo: ©CABI

Woody plant species have been deliberately introduced into many arid and semi-arid regions across the world as they can help combat desertification and provide resources – like fuelwood – to the rural poor. But some of these alien trees and shrubs have become invasive, having devastating effects on other species as well as people.

This is big problem in the mainly arid Baringo County, in Kenya’s Rift valley as well as other counties north, east and south of the country.

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Scientists recommend measures to contain rapid woody weed spread in Baringo County, Kenya

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A team of international scientists, including CABI’s Dr Urs Schaffner, have recommended ways to manage the devastating spread of the woody weed Prosopis juliflora, where in Baringo County, Kenya, its coverage rapidly increased by 2,031 percent in just 28 years.

PhD student Purity Rima Mbaabu, affiliated to the University of Nairobi and co-supervised by Simon Choge, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Dr Sandra Eckert, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Switzerland, Profs. Maina Gichaba and Prof. Daniel Olago, University of Nairobi, and Dr Schaffner, is lead author of new research which states that the rates of Prosopis invasion in Kenya are a ‘major threat to the environment and rural people’s livelihoods.’

The study calls for the ‘urgent implementation of coordinated and sustainable Prosopis management in Baringo County and other invaded areas in East Africa’.

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