#TBT The Osprey – Ask a natural history question: Why slugs?

The Osprey, vol. 42, no. 03 (Summer 2011) By: Barry J. Hicks Q: Slugs are the bane of vegetable gardeners everywhere (especially this rainy spring and summer!), but do they have any redeeming qualities? What is the ecological role of the slug and is there a reason why we can’t do without them? A: Slugs are the bane of many gardeners. Many people do not have a loving relationship with these invertebrates that share their gardens. Although they are not well known in North America, the slugs are considered important members of terrestrial ecosystems world-wide by many biologists. The slugs are terrestrial, air breathing molluscs they are also related to bivalves (e.g. mussels and clams) and cephalopods (e.g. squid and octopus). Generally the molluscs have a muscular foot and a mantle which secretes a calcareous shell. However some molluscs have reduced or absent shells. Slugs are an example of a…

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