Kid Citizen Scientist Finds First Snail for Project S.L.I.M.E.

March 18, 2015

A few weekends ago, citizen scientists from all over L.A. came to the Museum to see what they could find hiding in the damp and cool shadows of our Nature Gardens. Twenty people joined Museum experts (Lindsey Groves and Florence Nishida) to search for slugs, snails, and fungi—those often overlooked decomposers that break down dead and decaying material. They were also the first people to test out our latest and greatest citizen science project, S.L.I.M.E. (Snails and Slugs Living in Metropolitan Environments). Within ten minutes, one of our youngest citizen scientists made the first S.L.I.M.E. discovery - a glass snail (Oxychilus draparnaudi) in the Pollinator Garden.

Check out what else we found:

A bunch of turkey tail fungus on a dead log:

A pile of dog's vomit slime mold on the edge of a path:

Florence shows off some inky capped mushrooms found by Christopher Lanus (which he later submitted to iNaturalist):

And our Project S.L.I.M.E. results included 45 vials of snails and slugs:

There were 18 glass snails, like this one here:

Eleven gray field slugs (Deroceras reticulatum), like this one here:

And 27 banded garden slugs (Lemannia valentiana), like this one here:

Wow, so many specimens! We learned a lot from this test of Project S.L.I.M.E. Firstly, all of the snails and slugs we found are non-native to Los Angeles! Secondly, the group found most specimens in the Pollinator Garden, but none of the gray field slugs were found there at all!  Perhaps gray banded slugs don't like the plants in that part of the garden?

As you can tell see this test has raised a lot of questions for us; How does the diversity of snails and slugs we found in the Nature Gardens compare to the diversity in the surrounding neighborhoods and the rest of the L.A. basin? Are most of L.A.’s urban snails and slugs non-native?  How are our native snails and slugs fairing throughout the L.A. basin? Right now we don't know the answers, but when we publicly launch Project S.L.I.M.E. we'll be able to begin answering these questions because of citizen scientists like this group:

**Thanks to Jann Vendetti, Project S.L.I.M.E.'s creator! She couldn't join us for the event as she was giving birth to her daughter. Congratulations Jann!

Written by Miguel Ordeñana

 


(Posted by: Lila Higgins)


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More L.A. Mushrooms

August 24, 2012

As I proclaimed in last week's blog, it's been hot! Not the sort of weather you would expect to be finding mushrooms in the arid Southwest. However, Carol Bornstein, Director of North Campus and  gardens found mushrooms on her way into work on Monday morning. As she parked her car, she noticed some yellow patches under a citrus tree. Upon closer investigation, Carol discovered they were clumps of emerging yellow mushrooms!

Needless to say, I was out there quick as a flash to snap some photos. This is what I found:

 



 

When I parked the next morning the mushrooms had completely changed!

 



 Picture taken by Patrick Tanaka, Museum outreach instructor

 

According to Florence Nishida, Museum research associate and L.A. Mycological Society member, this mushroom is likely Leucocoprinus birnbaumii. Although it doesn't have a common name, it is often encountered in potted houseplants and sometimes in mulch outside! Through my research, I have discovered that people can get quite frantic upon finding these mushrooms in their homes. In particular, MushroomExpert.com has an entire article about frantic questions received from homeowners worried about the dangers of this mushroom.

 

The good news is, they are practically harmless. The plant is in no way affected by this cohabitant and as long as no person or pet eats it, everyone will be safe and sound. So next time you find yourself wondering if you should pick and eat that little yellow mushroom, stop yourself and remember safety first!

 

 


(Posted by: Lila Higgins)

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