There are 29 species of earthworm living freely in soils in the UK. They are vital to the economic health of our country, as they are crucial for soil health, food production, waste decomposition and even flood mitigation. It is therefore vital that the impacts of agricultural practices on earthworm populations and diversity are considered. The FSC BioLinks Project has teamed up with the Earthworm Society of Britain to help RSPB Hope Farm identify the earthworm samples they have been collecting as part of a field-scale research project looking at the impact of using green compost on agricultural soils.
This expert-led volunteer day will involve sorting through earthworm samples and recording the numbers of juveniles present, as well as identifying adult earthworms to species level using the FSC AIDGAP Key to the Earthworms of the UK & Ireland. It is the perfect opportunity to get some practice identifying British earthworms and contribute to a meaningful study furthering our understanding of earthworms. Please note that this event is not for complete beginners and attendees should have attended an Earthworm Society of Britain ID course previously.
Free event - see FSC website for booking details.
Keiron Derek Brown first became interested in invertebrates during a field-based entomology module at university and went on to volunteer on soil biodiversity research projects at the Natural History Museum (London). This included sorting samples of invertebrates to order level and sampling invertebrates across the New Forest in Hampshire and the Malaysian rainforests of Borneo.
Sophie Mott discovered the pathway to invertebrates through a fieldwork and laboratory identification university module. Though the module was only an overview, further skills and knowledge followed via a sheer determination and passion to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible about some of our smallest friends! Sophie joined the RSPB team at Hope Farm in Knapwell last year and has dived into the cover-crop and compost research trial, collecting and identifying invertebrates using many sampling techniques to order, and often family level. During this work, the importance of earthworm populations became abundantly clear and, as such, Sophie introduced mustard water sampling to the project specifically to assess earthworms to species level.