School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Ecology Research Students

Samantha de Silva
Samantha de Silva

Project description

My PhD is looking at improving understanding of feeding and digestion in the grey field slug (Deroceras reticulatum (Müller). Slugs feed on plants and this has a significant economic impact on the UK’s agriculture and horticulture industries.

The main form of protection currently employed by farmers are pellets containing the chemical metaldehyde. The consumption of these pellets by slugs is poor and the pellets leach metaldehyde during rainfall events.

This causes financial loss to the farming industry and high levels of the pesticide in water.

My research is funded by the UK Water Industry Research group that hope to reduce the amount of metaldehyde in the water system.

I am looking at if novel formulations will increase pellet consumption (this may lead to greater slug mortality) and reduce leaching of metaldehyde (preventing or limiting leaching into the water system).

My day-to-day work includes:

  • looking at slug consumption (bioassays)
  • comparing feeding patterns between pellet types (bioacoustics)
  • investigating the pH of the slug gut (dissections)


I enjoy dog walking or just nature walks, visiting animal rescue centres/ farms/sanctuaries. I love farm animals, especially pygmy goats! I can play the flute and piano - but prefer to watch the professionals at the ballet, theatre or musicals. I also cross-stitch bookmarks very slowly in my spare time.


  • BSc (Hons) Biology (University of Birmingham)
  • MSc Wild Animal Biology (Royal Veterinary College and Zoological Society of London)
  • E1&L, PIL A, B and C accredited training for mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits (Royal Society of Biology)