Research Paper on Slugs and Cold Temperature Resistance

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  678 Words
Date:  2022-04-12


Slugs are mostly herbivorous, and they have different eating habits depending on their size, habitat and nutritional requirement. Their diet ranges from leaves, stems and dead plants (South & Springer Science Business Media, 2011, p. 55). Most of the fat content in their food is stored so that it may be used during the cold temperature season as the slugs hibernate. Freezing of body fluids in slugs results in the accumulation of glucose, succinate, and lactate. At high temperatures, slugs survive through greater rate food consumption and breakdown of body tissues. The collection of succinate and lactate is an indication that the production of ATP occurs through fermentative pathways which is an indication that oxygen is depleted in the frozen tissues of slugs (South & Springer Science Business Media, 2011, 68). There is an increase in glucose levels when a slug is subjected to freezing temperatures which acts as a cryo-protectant.

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Slug's growth rate and reproductive fitness are affected by the dynamic content, edibility and nutrient composition of their food. Food absorption and digestibility also significantly affects their growth rate. Slugs have been found to hibernate during cold weathers where they are not very active and go for days without any food (Russell-Hunter, 2013, p. 445). During this period the food reserves are used to provide nutrients for the slugs which enable them to survive the cold temperatures. In a study by Thomas (1987), he found out that calcium alginate which is found in carbohydrates is very helpful to slugs during the hibernation period(Russell-Hunter, 2013, 445). It is relatively low in nitrogen but high in carbohydrates and is beneficial in low-frequency feeding regimen.

In an article on "Effects of food type, feeding frequency and temperature on juvenile survival and growth of (Mollusca: Gastropoda)" a study was conducted where different families of slugs were placed in a laboratory and were subjected to various feeding frequency and food quality. Their weights were also measured before the experiment. Three types of food were employed which included lettuce, alginate with fish food and alginate with snail mix. The diet was also controlled where the slugs were allowed to feed for a pre-determined period after which the food was removed. The slugs were then subjected to different temperatures and then offered a different type of food. From the study, some slugs were not able to survive in some conditions after they had fed on a particular kind of food. In the experiment, there was a significant difference in protein content per-gram dry-weight among the three types of food that were provided to the slugs.

Lettuce had the highest protein content among the three. Mortality rate was observed to be high when the slugs were given lettuce and left for days without any food while being subjected to cold temperatures. Conversely, slugs that were fed with lettuce showed a significant increase in their growth rate in comparison to slugs that were fed on alginate food. From the study, it is evident that manipulating the fat content in the slug's diet negatively affected the amount of time they were able to survive in the cold temperatures (Hockings & Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, 2014, p. 5). A cryoprotectant is a substance which is used to protect the biological tissues from the effects of freezing during cold temperatures. During cold temperatures, slugs can synthesize ATP from the accumulation of glucose in their bodies (Wheeler-Toppen, 2014, 8). The glucose thus acts as a cryoprotectant as it helps slugs protect their tissues from the freezing effect of extreme temperatures.


In conclusion, more research needs to be conducted on the effects of diet in the adaptation of slugs to extreme weather conditions and further tests should also be done to ascertain the type of food (rich in fats) that help slugs during cold temperatures.


Hockings, F. D., & Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (Australia).(2014). Pests, diseases, and beneficials: Friends and foes of Australian gardens.5

Russell-Hunter, W. D. (2013). Ecology. Elsevier Science.445

South, A., & Springer Science+Business Media. (2011). Terrestrial slugs: Biology, ecology andcontrol. Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media.55,68

Wheeler-Toppen, J. (2014). Orchid mantises and other extreme insect adaptations.8

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