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Johnston, E;Kindermann, G;O'Callaghan, J;Burke, D;McLaughlin, C;Horgan, S;Mc Donnell, R;Williams, C;Gormally, M
Ecological Research
Monitoring the EU protected Geomalacus maculosus (Kerry Slug): what are the factors affecting catch returns in open and forested habitats?
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Geomalacus maculosus is a slug species protected under EU law with a distribution limited to the west of Ireland and north-west Iberia. The species, originally thought to be limited within Ireland to deciduous woodland and peatland, has been found in a number of commercial conifer plantations since 2010. While forest managers are now required to incorporate the protection of the species where it is present, no clear species monitoring protocols are currently available. This study examines the efficacy of De Sangosse refuge traps across three habitats frequently associated with commercial forest plantations in Ireland and compares them with hand searching, a commonly used method for slug monitoring. Catch data during different seasons and under different weather conditions are also presented. Results indicate that autumn is the optimal time for sampling G. maculosus but avoiding extremes of hot or cold weather. While refuge traps placed at 1.5 m on trees in mature conifer plantations and directly on exposed rock in blanket peatlands result in significantly greater catches, hand searching is the most successful approach for clear-fell areas. Hand searches in clear-fell preceded by rain are likely to result in greater numbers caught. The results of this study form, for the first time, the basis for G. maculosus monitoring guidelines for forestry managers.
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