Tonight our guest was Dr. John Pearse, Professor Emeritus, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Pearse is a distinguished scientist with a long list of publication credits and awards. He talked about creatures familiar to many here in Mendocino County, particularly us coastal residents: Banana Slugs. We asked about their evolutionary history and their place in the forest ecosystem, before getting into the racy stuff: their strange reproductive biology and frankly bizarre sexual practices!
Dr. Pearse helpfully provided some visual references to enhance the discussion:
PDF slideshow – All About Banana Slugs (April 2010 presentation)
PowerPoint presentation (large file; you must have PowerPoint installed on your computer)
Video of Banana Slug copulation
At the end of the show, we asked Dr. Pearse about the “wasting disease” that has been affecting starfish on the West coast. A great deal of information can be found here, including identification guides and a portal to enter citizen-science observations.