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.
This course will provide an introduction to identifying earthworms using the FSC AIDGAP Key to the Earthworms of the UK & Ireland. The course will include a short presentation introducing the ecological groups of earthworms and features used to identify specimens to species level. During the course participants will:
- Have learnt about the different ecological groups (or ecotypes) of earthworms
- Gain experience looking at earthworm ID features using a microscope.
- Use an ID key to determine earthworm specimens accurately to species level.
- Know how to take their interest further.
Please note that this course will using specimens that have been killed and preserved.
This course is heavily subsidised by the FSC BioLinks Project (funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund).
About the tutors
Dr Frank Ashwood's passion for nature led him to study Biology at university, where he carried out research projects into invertebrate ecology in Scotland and Mexico. He then worked on a number of UK biodiversity research projects where he carried out identification for various ground invertebrates, before undertaking a PhD studying earthworm ecology on reclaimed landfill sites. Frank now works as a soil ecologist for Forest Research, where he studies soil biodiversity in UK woodlands. In his spare time Frank is a passionate communicator on soil biology, and volunteers as the research officer for the Earthworm Society of Britain.
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 inverts to order level and sampling inverts across the New Forest (Hampshire) and the Malaysian rainforests of Borneo. Keiron now manages the FSC BioLinks project, with the aim of inspiring amateur naturalists to take up the identification and recording of invert groups that are often forgotten and rarely recorded. In his spare time he is a trustee of the London Natural History Society and is the national recorder for earthworms (running the National Earthworm Recording Scheme on behalf of the Earthworm Society of Britain).