The semi-slug: discoveries up the mountain

Today we climbed higher into the Luquillo mountains – all the way to the top of Pico El Yunque. At these elevations the tabonuco rainforest (named for the dominant species, Dacryodes excelsa – more on this another post) transitions into cloud forest and elfin forest. At these elevations the forest is always in the clouds, so a cool mist pervades the environment – sometimes entire clouds blow past. Below you can see a stone tower built in this forest.

One of the most exciting finds of the day was a semi-slug, Gaeotis flavolineata. These are gastropods whose shells have evolved to become too small for the organism to retract fully – something in between a land snail and a slug. The bright green part is the shell in this photo; the transparent part is its body. If you know anything more about this species please make a comment!

Because of all the moisture coming from the bath of clouds, streams and waterfalls are a common sight, making for beautiful hiking! Tomorrow we’re back to work in the forest dynamics plot, but with good memories of another biological world higher up.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Erica N. says:

    Hey Ben- My boyfriend David has done all of his PhD work in French Polynesia, where they have similar, reduced-shell snails like this one in the high-altitude cloud forest. There’s no information about your snail on the Wikipedia, but David says that it might be a succineid (Family: Succineidae), which are pretty common in the Pacific.

    Wonderful blog. I am enjoying all your posts 🙂

    1. bblonder says:

      Erica, thank you for passing that on – I am lucky to have a social network that can resolve these questions! Glad you are enjoying the blog.

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