Sluggy notes

In the most recent issue of the American Malacological Bulletin two papers appeared with notes on slugs in the Neotropics.

The first paper is by Clarke & Fields, entitled Mating in Veronicella sloanii. It describes observations on the copulation of this pest species on Barbados (W.I.).

The systellommatophoran slug Veronicella sloanii (Cuvier, 1817), is a simultaneous hermaphrodite. This slug is an agricultural and horticultural pest in Barbados and several islands of the Lesser Antilles. Over the period January-July 2006 and June-August 2010, the mating behavior of this species was determined by ad libitum and focal animal sampling of captive slugs collected from six sites on the island of Barbados, supplemented by observations and length measurements of slugs seen mating in the field. Individuals of Veronicella sloanii mated reciprocally in pairs, but also in a multi-partner ring formation involving three individuals. Two stages in the mating process were identified, courtship and copulation. Courtship was short, less than two minutes in mating events that led directly to copulation (mean 1.87 minutes, range 0.25–2, N = 53). Copulation in contrast was long, lasting on average 1.03 hours (range 0.4–2, N = 40). During mating the penial gland of each partner made contact with the foot or the hyponotum of the other partner. Aggressive behavior during mating in this slug was manifested by non-mating individuals pushing themselves between mating pairs resulting in the withdrawal of the penis of the mating pairs and cessation of copulation. A strong size-assortative mating pattern was observed; individuals in mating pairs were of similar size.

The second paper by Gutiérrez et al. is about invasive species in Argentina, of which four are reported as new to the fauna.

This paper reports for the first time the occurrence of four exotic terrestrial slug species in Argentina: Lehmannia valentiana (Férussac, 1823) (Limacidae),Deroceras invadens Reise et al. 2011 (Agriolimacidae), Arion intermediusNormand, 1852 (Arionidae) and Meghimatium pictum (Stolyczka, 1873) (Philomycidae). The study is based on specimens deposited in museums in Argentina. Both the morphologic characteristics and the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I gene sequences were used to identify the exotic species. Phylogenetic analyses were also carried out in order to explore the location of their origins. Lehmannia valentiana had the oldest records and has been widely distributed in Argentina. Deroceras invadens and A. intermedius were found to be restricted to the southern portion of the country. Meghimatium pictum was recorded in the northwest and northeast Argentina, and the DNA sequences analyzed from this species were more closely related to specimens from the west of the Strait of Taiwan. A determination of the origin of the other species was impossible because either the sequences analyzed grouped with samples from different geographical origins or only few sequences were available for comparison. In view of the invasive potential of these slug species, the present work provides new and potentially useful DNA sequence data obtained from morphologically-confirmed specimens. Information provided from these analyses should assist in making a rapid identification of these exotic slugs by nonspecialists and governmental authorities who are responsible for managing and controlling the presence of exotic species.

Although I had expected to find some catchy photographs of these species in the field, the paper is only illustrated with phylogenetic trees. Serving their purpose within the context, maybe a suggestion for a sluggy follow-up paper of some sort that may serve as a field guide?

References:
Clarke, N. & Fields, A., 2013. Mating in Veronicella sloanii (Cuvier, 1817) (Veronicellidae). – American Malacological Bulletin 31: 235-244.
Gutiérrez Gregoric, D.E., Beltramino, A.A., Vogler, R.E., Verónica Nuñez, M.G., Gomes, S.R., Virgillito, M. & Miquel, S.E., 2013. First Records of Four Exotic Slugs in Argentina. – American Malacological Bulletin 31: 245-256.

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