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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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.

DrJennaRoss
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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CABI joins international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System to fight crop diseases

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Blue-green sharpshooters are a disease vector of Xylella fastidiosa (Photo: Katja Schulz / Flickr)

CABI has joined an international team of scientists calling for a Global Surveillance System (GSS) to fight a range of diseases which threaten priority crops including maize, potato, cassava, rice, beans and wheat.

The team, which includes the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) – lead authors of a new report published in Science (28 June 2019), say a GSS is needed to ‘improve and interconnect crop biosecurity systems which could go a long way to improving global food security.’

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