A small computer reveals how Tahitian snails avoid violent predators | #itsecurity | #infosec

Cindy Big Mission. An evolutionary biologist at the University of Michigan scans around her as she trek through a forested valley north of Tahiti. Most visitors come to this South Pacific island to enjoy the beaches and clear waters, but BIC is here for another reason. She found her quarry. There are bean-sized white dots on the sunlit leaves.that is Polynesian snail, A small snail with a big story about the risk and resilience of island species. Researchers are beginning to understand how this one species survived where many of its relatives died, with the help of a small computer about the size of a grain of rice.

Over the last few centuries, especially since the 1980s, hundreds of Pacific Islands snails have become extinct.They give a phenomenal explanation 40 percent Extinction of all documented animals.Isolated from the outside world, like other flora and fauna that evolved on the island Tens of millions of years, These species had little protection against the large number of invasive species introduced by humans, either intentionally or otherwise. In many cases, trying to control an invasive species by introducing another invasive species only caused greater confusion.

“What we can say about this family from a conservation status perspective is very tough,” says Brenden Holland, a conservation biologist at Hawaii Pacific University who studies terrestrial snails. P. hyalina.. “These strains are poorly adapted to combat invasive predators and tend to be a major threat, so in the last 40 years or so, very unusual levels of extinction have occurred. I was seen. “

However, since the cousins ​​no longer exist one by one, P. hyalina, Currently listed as vulnerable, but hanging. It wasn’t easy. In Tahiti, formidable predators hunt them: the invasive rosy wolf snail, YamahitachioAlso known as cannibalistic snails.These snails can grow 4 inches Long, impressive speed bursts are possible: they can reach when chasing prey 19 mph At a short distance.The rosy wolf snail is particularly terrifyingly armed Radula (Appendages like tongues lined with teeth) It can stretch, alienStyle beyond that mouth. The teeth themselves are stretched to scrape off the meat more effectively. “It can be devoured [another snail] It takes a little time to just beat the whole, or the soft body tissue of the snail, “says Bick. “It’s a pretty brutal way.”

A rosy wolf snail hunting with a small computer glued to its shell by a researcher. Courtesy Inhillie

Native to the southern United States, the rosy wolf snail has been introduced to Tahiti, Hawaii, and many other Pacific islands to control another invasive species, the giant african snail. African giants can grow up to 8 inches in length and were deliberately brought into the area as a potential food source. Arrived in Tahiti in 1967. “It grows fast and people once thought it would be a really useful source of protein,” says the Netherlands. “It turns out that it’s packed with pathogens and parasites. So people started eating them and started getting sick, and then people stopped eating them and [the snails] I went out and started eating everything. “

The rosy wolf snail was introduced in 1970s Expecting to eat african snails. Unfortunately, predators also like to eat a lot of other snail seeds. In Hawaii, for example, Holland’s the study Wolf snails show that they actually prefer to hunt native snails over African species.

How Big and her colleagues P. hyalina I managed to survive this greedy predator.They inferred it P. hyalinaThe bright white husks of the dark rosy wolf snail may help survive even when exposed to greater sunlight than the dark rosy wolf snail. A transition zone that has given way to a habitat with more sunlight than a dense forest floor, such as an open area of ​​trees, may serve as what the team called a “sun shelter.”on the other hand P. hyalina Can withstand hours of bright sunlight, rosy wolf snails are at risk of overheating and therefore avoid the area.

To test this hypothesis, scientists decided to measure how much light the various snail species received during the day. Every morning for several days early in the morning, Bick and her colleague went out looking for snails.

Evolutionary biologist Cindy Bick and her team spent hours searching for snails in the dense Tahiti forest. Courtesy Cindy Bic

When they found a rosy wolf snail, researchers glued a small computer to its shell. This was the first field application for the Michigan Micromote (M3), announced in 2014 as the world’s smallest computer. (The University of Michigan engineer then Even smaller computer. )

Researchers then undertook the difficult task of monitoring snails throughout the day while computers measured the exposure of animals to sunlight. “If you look back for five seconds, you can lose because of the benefits,” says Bick of the relatively fast brownish wolf snail. “They blend very well with the leaves and floor floors.”

P. hyalina Snails don’t move much during the day, but tracking snails presents another challenge. Researchers were not allowed to adhere directly to snails because they are a protected species. Therefore, I attached a computer to the leaf where the snail is placed.

Finally, the researchers’ hypothesis was confirmed through this new field test.by Their treatise, Released in June Communication biology, P. hyalina Sun shelter may have saved because it was exposed to much more sunlight than the wolf snail. P. hyalina From its horrific predator’s hands, or rather mouth extinction.

Seen from below, the Tahitian snail rests in full sun. Courtesy Cindy Bic

“Biologists and ecologists of this generation are looking for new answers, so this treatise was very interesting to me,” said the Netherlands, who was not involved in the study.

Bick believes that this treatise shows why humans need to protect forest edge habitats and the sun shelters that give them. P. hyalina Unlike many other island species, it’s a chance to fight.

“I think this is a pretty exciting story,” says Bick. “Most of the time we talk about being extinct or about to become extinct, but we never talk about success stories.”

She sees P. hyalinaThe story of resilience as a small piece to solve a larger puzzle: “Given climate change, globalization and ever-increasing deforestation,” says Bick. “What do we need to survive in this ever-changing environment, this ever-changing world?”

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