Erin Johnston PhD

Erin Johnston, an Assistant Ecologist who has been working with McCarthy Keville O'Sullivan since December 2016, has recently been awarded her PhD. Her research focused on Geomalacus maculosus, a protected species more commonly known as the Kerry Slug. Within Ireland the species was thought to be found only in deciduous woodland and peatland habitats in west Cork and Kerry until 2010 when it was discovered in a conifer plantation in Galway. It was later confirmed as present in conifer plantations throughout the south west of Ireland.  As the Kerry slug is protected under Annex II and IV of the Habitats Directive, its presence in commercial forestry is of great concern. Erin’s thesis was titled ‘Geomalacus maculosus: An assessment of trapping methods, forestry management impacts, and feeding preferences’.  The aims of which, given how little is known about the species, were to fill gaps in the literature to better inform the management of the species. Outputs from this work include an assessment of survey methods in a variety of habitats, and of weather and seasonal variables to determine optimal surveying conditions. This paper is available from the January edition of Ecological Research. Erin’s work will be used further to inform updates to current forestry guidelines on the Kerry Slug.

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