Locomotor behaviour promotes stability of the patchy distribution of slugs in arable fields: tracking the movement of individual Deroceras reticulatum

Forbes, E., Back, M.A., Brooks, A., Petrovskaya, N.B., Petrovskii, S.V., Pope, T.W. and Walters, K.F.A. (2020) Locomotor behaviour promotes stability of the patchy distribution of slugs in arable fields: tracking the movement of individual Deroceras reticulatum. Pest Management Science.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND The distribution of the grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum Müller) in arable fields is characterised by patches containing higher slug densities dispersed within areas of lower densities. Behavioural responses that lead to the spatial/temporal stability of these patches are poorly understood, thus this study investigated behavioural mechanisms underpinning slug distribution using a new method for long‐term tracking of individual slug movement in the field. RESULTS A technique for implanting radio frequency identification (RFID) tags (each with a unique identification code) beneath the body wall of slugs was developed. Laboratory tests indicated no consistent detrimental effect on survival, feeding, egg laying or locomotor behaviour (velocity, distance travelled). Movement of individual slugs above and below the soil surface was recorded for >5 weeks (in spring and autumn) in winter wheat fields. Most (~80%) foraged within a limited area; and at the end of the observation period were located at a mean distance of 78.7 ± 33.7 cm (spring) or 101.9 ± 24.1 cm (autumn) from their release point. The maximum detected distance from the release point was 408.8 cm. The remaining slugs (~20%) moved further away and ultimately were lost. CONCLUSIONS RFID tagging allowed continuous tracking of individual slugs, even below the soil surface. Localised movement of 80% of tracked slugs over 5 weeks offers a mechanism promoting stable slug patches in arable crops. Rapid dispersal of the remaining slugs facilitates exchange of individuals between patches. Precision targeting of pesticides at such stable slug patches may facilitate reduced usage.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: grey field slug, patchy distribution, in‐field tracking, RFID tags, slug locomotory behaviour, slug patch stability
Divisions: Crop and Environment Sciences
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 02 Jun 2020 08:44
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2020 08:44
URI: http://hau.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17550

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