Movement patterns of the grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum) in an arable field

John Ellis, Natalia Petrovskaya, Emily Forbes, Keith Walters, Sergei Petrovskii

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We report the results of an experiment on radio-tracking of individual grey field slugs in an arable field and associated data modelling designed to investigate the effect of slug population density in their movement. Slugs were collected in a commercial winter wheat field in which a 5x6 trapping grid had been established with 2m distance between traps. The slugs were taken to the laboratory, radio-tagged using a recently developed procedure, and following a recovery period released into the same field. Seventeen tagged slugs were released singly (sparse release) on the same grid node on which they had been caught. Eleven tagged slugs were released as a group (dense release). Each of the slugs was radio-tracked for approximately 10 h during which their position was recorded ten times. The tracking data were analysed using the Correlated Random Walk framework. The analysis revealed that all components of slug movement (mean speed, turning angles and movement/resting times) were significantly different between the two treatments. On average, the slugs released as a group disperse more slowly than slugs released individually and their turning angle has a clear anticlockwise bias. The results clearly suggest that population density is a factor regulating slug movement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17970
Number of pages16
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partially supported by AHDB through Project no. 21120078 (to E.F. and K.F.A.W.) and by EPSRC through Project EP/T027371/1 (to S.P.). J.R.E. acknowledges support in the form of a Research Associateship from the School of Mathematics, University of Birmingham.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, The Author(s).

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • animal movement
  • animal radio-tracking
  • correlated random walk
  • density dependence
  • superdiffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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